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When it comes to cornerbacks, height matters for the Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys have made it a point to opt for size as a preference when it comes to their cornerback acquisitions this offseason
Credit: AP
Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris (25) lines up against the Detroit Lions during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

DALLAS —

There is never a dull moment with the Dallas Cowboys, even when they are minding their own business. The latest adventure comes courtesy of Chris Harris Jr., former cornerback of the Denver Broncos, and now member of the Los Angeles Chargers.

Harris was released by the Broncos this offseason and was coming off a subpar season. One of his suitors was expected to be the Cowboys, who let their own top corner, Byron Jones, leave via free agency. Many insiders believed Dallas would pursue Harris at a much lower cost than they would have needed to shell out to keep Jones.

The Cowboys never made a strong pitch for Harris, who has his own theory for why. 

According to Harris, the Cowboys didn’t pursue him because he wasn’t six feet tall, something he feels is a requirement for Dallas.

This isn’t a new philosophy for the Cowboys and it isn’t a shocking development under new coach Mike McCarthy. It has been known for a long time the personnel department and team scouts prefers taller, longer corners. 

Harris isn’t breaking any news we didn’t already know. Team Vice President of Player Personnel Will McClay reiterated this on draft weekend.

Dallas’ track record of drafting or acquiring taller corners has been well documented over the last decade. The 2020 offseason alone shows their preference for taller corners: Trevon Diggs, Reggie Robinson, Maurice Canady, Daryl Worley, and Saivion Smith all stand at 6-1.

However, for Harris to say he was told by the team that they “don’t want any corner under six feet” is not entirely accurate. The Cowboys might prefer corners over six feet, but it’s not a prerequisite for the team.

Currently, Mike Nolan’s defense has two cornerbacks under six feet on the roster. Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis stand at 5' 11" and 5' 10" respectively, and Brown just re-signed with the Cowboys this offseason. It seems like a strange signing to re-up with a guy who is under their threshold for height, if the team only wants taller corners.

But, then again, the Cowboys are familiar with Brown and what he is capable of and his extension wasn’t as pricey as a bigger name corner of similar shorter stature likely would have been.

Lewis does seem like a bit of an anomaly for the Cowboys, and indeed, he’s had difficulty finding his niche and playing time on the team, but Dallas drafted him in the third-round in 2017 and they’ve kept him on the roster as a slot corner option. 

While it’s obvious that they have a preference, Lewis' presence alone shows that Dallas mostly covets good players, rather than being unbending sticklers for certain body types at any one position. 

Only the Cowboys know why they didn’t sign or pursue Harris more aggressively. Perhaps his down season in 2019, the price tag, or his age made Dallas more cautious about adding someone who wasn’t ideal for their CB profile. 

However, Harris speaking in absolutes about the Cowboys and their height requirements isn’t entirely accurate. It’s Dallas’ preference to have taller corners on their roster, but it isn’t a prerequisite.

As always, there’s never a dull day with the Dallas Cowboys.

Are you in favor of the Cowboys having physical preferences for their cornerbacks even if they miss on some talent outside of their comfort zone? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.

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