<
>

Cowboys' secondary revamp won't happen all at once

FRISCO, Texas -- Next Saturday, the Dallas Cowboys will be on a plane for California and the start of training camp.

Expectations are high for a team that went 13-3 last season and has a young core that should improve in 2017, but there are questions. Many center on the pass rush. The Cowboys don't have a DeMarcus Ware type pass-rusher, and they are relying on quantity over quality when it comes to pressuring the opposing quarterback.

There are also major questions in the secondary with the losses of Brandon Carr, Barry Church, J.J. Wilcox and Morris Claiborne. For years, many Cowboys fans lamented the play of those four players, and now many of those same fans don't know how they will get by without them.

To me, the secondary is a bigger question than the pass rush. I believe the Cowboys' pass rush will be OK. Not great. Not bad. Middle of the road. An all-at-once change in the secondary could create issues, but the Cowboys could have long-term solutions in their youth movement.

And that brings us to this week's Twitter question:

@toddarcher: The Cowboys drafted Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, Xavier Woods and Marquez White in the spring in hopes of revamping their secondary over the next few years. Anthony Brown proved to be an exceptional find in the sixth round of last year's draft. Byron Jones, the club's first-rounder in 2015, has the potential to be one of their best safeties since Darren Woodson.

Could these rookies make that type of impact this year? That would surprise me a ton. Orlando Scandrick, Nolan Carroll and Jeff Heath will have something to say about it. Scandrick was moving better in the spring than he did a year ago. Carroll had a solid season in Philadelphia last year and had moments in the spring, too. He could face discipline from the NFL for an offseason DWI arrest, but I would expect him to start. And Heath has the inside track to start next to Jones.

There have been some comparisons between the Cowboys' youth movement and what the San Francisco 49ers did in 1981 when they drafted Ronnie Lott, Eric Wright and Carlton Williamson in the first three rounds. The Niners had a terrible pass defense in 1980 and started all three rookies in 1981 and began their march to greatness.

The Niners' success is more the outlier than the predictor of success. The Cowboys like Awuzie, Lewis, Woods and White, and they have shown a willingness to play younger players in recent years.

They won't go all-in with the rookie defensive backs in 2017, but that doesn't mean these players can't make contributions.