Dallas Cowboys' Position Battles: Cornerback and Linebacker

Martin LongCorrespondent IJune 22, 2009

DENVER - AUGUST 16:  Cornerback Orlando Scandrick #32 of the Dallas Cowboys warms up prior to facing the Denver Broncos during preseason NFL action at Invesco Field at Mile High on August 16, 2008 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Cowboys 23-13.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Things are really heating up in Dallas Cowboys camp now. There is competition up and down the board, but where it really gets interesting is on the defensive side of the ball, where the spots for the left starting corner and nickel linebacker are up for grabs.


Cornerback Battle

Last year, the Cowboys drafted Mike Jenkins from South Florida in the first round. He played well and made great strides finishing with 19 tackles, one interception (which was returned for a touchdown), and four passes defended.

Last year in the fifth round, the Cowboys drafted Orlando Scandrick from Boise State. He also played very well and made as big of strides as Jenkins, if not bigger. He finished with 36 tackles, four passes defended, and one sack

These two corners had fairly similar seasons, though Scandrick was perhaps a more physical player as he finished with 17 more tackles. They are very similar height and weight wise: Jenkins is 5'11" and 190 pounds, and Scandrick is 5'10" and 192 pounds.

They are both very fast as well and will be able to play a lot more man coverage than Anthony Henry did while he was in Dallas. Scandrick might just have a bead on Jenkins here as he runs a 4.3-flat 40-yard dash, while Jenkins runs a 4.38. As little as a difference this is, this may be the only thing that separates them, as they both have fantastic instincts and are above average at tackling for corners.

I believe it will come down to whoever manges to stick it out and perform the best during training camp, because I believe they are both very talented, young corners, and in the future they are probably the two starting cornerbacks for the Cowboys.


Linebacker Competition

The nickel linebacker spot is up for grabs now that Kevin Burnett has moved on to San Diego. This position most people think would automatically go to Bobby Carpenter because he was the Cowboys' 2006 first-round draft pick.

This is not the case though, as Carpenter is not that fast (4.59 40-yard dash), which means he may have some trouble covering tight ends or rushing the passer in the nickel packages. The main competition for Carpenter is coming from Jason Williams, the Cowboys' third-round draft choice out of Western Illinois this year.

Williams is an extremely athletic linebacker and may be better suited for the this position because of his speed (4.46 40-yard dash), which makes him quicker than any linebacker that attended the NFL Combine. He also had a 39-inch vertical jump.

As Williams said, "These numbers don't lie." He's right, they don't, and he is a great prospect and is clearly far more athletic than Carpenter, which would most likely give him the edge in coverage and pass rush. The only edge Carpenter has on Williams is experience, but I believe Williams will gain that quickly enough.

I think Williams is probably better suited for the job, but I am slightly biased in this opinion as I am not happy with how Bobby Carpenter has performed since he was drafted, and I don't believe he should just be given this position.

Anyway, it should be a very exciting training camp for the Cowboys, and I will be very happy to see this fierce competition going on.

Thanks and Go 'Boys.