Dallas’ secondary is now in really bad shape
There are reports out of Dallas Cowboys camp that Orlando Scandrick has suffered a season-ending torn ACL. This is a potentially devastating loss for the team, not just because Scandrick is a quality player, but because it comes at the position at which they are weakest.
There were only six cornerbacks in the NFL last season with at least seven interceptions and passes defensed combined, and no touchdowns allowed. Scandrick is on that list among two of the league’s highest rated cornerbacks, Vontae Davis and Chris Harris. Adding to Scandrick’s value is the fact that he can play both outside and in the slot. He and Brandon Boykin were the only two cornerbacks in the NFL last year with at least 300 coverage snaps in the slot and no touchdowns allowed.
Brandon Carr, who has missed preseason action with a broken hand, is the Cowboys’ top outside cornerback. He allowed an NFL passer rating of 116.6 when targeted last year. That’s not good. 2012 first-round pick Morris Claiborne would likely be the other full time cornerback if healthy, but he has missed time each of the last two seasons and also hasn’t played this preseason. Then there is the issue of his performance: In 2014, he allowed 2.45 yards per coverage snap, which was fourth-worst for cornerbacks with at least 50 snaps.
Dallas spent its first-round pick on cornerback Byron Jones, but he also missed time last year at UConn and missed the 49ers preseason game with a shoulder injury.
While some combination of those three will take all of the outside cornerback snaps, assuming two are healthy, Tyler Patmon is the most likely man to take the snaps in the slot. As an undrafted rookie last year, he managed 117 snaps as the Cowboys’ fourth cornerback late in the year. In limited playing time, he allowed a high catch rate at 81.3 percent, but never allowed a pass more than 26 yards.
If the Cowboys had to start the season now, their top healthy cornerbacks would be Tyler Patmon and Corey White, with Robert Steeples or Joel Ross coming in the nickel defense. The rest of the NFC East would love to face that group.