The Dallas Cowboys took a huge blow on Thursday when star cornerback Trevon Diggs suffered a knee injury during practice that an MRI later confirmed was a torn left ACL. Diggs, a former First Team All-Pro who led the NFL with 11 interceptions on 2021 and was arguably even better in 2022, was off to the best start of his career through the first two games of this season, allowing a passer rating of 1.0 on throws in his direction, according to Pro Football Focus.
So, how can the Cowboys replace Diggs in the lineup?
"You can't do that," Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said, according to The Athletic. "That's just not real. That's like saying, 'I want to be Tom Cruise.' You don't replace these irreplaceable players."
Diggs has been one of the league's best playmaking cornerbacks since entering the league in 2020, and over the past couple of seasons has hammered out some of the issues he'd faced with over-aggressiveness and his susceptibility to double moves. This offseason, the Cowboys paired him with former NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore to form one of the NFL's top cornerback tandems. They also have 2022 fifth-round pick DaRon Bland, who led the team with five interceptions last season, and former starter Jourdan Lewis, who returned last week from a Lisfranc injury suffered in 2022.
So, they do have the ability to maintain a high level of play in their cornerback room. However, "No one has the impact that [Diggs] has," Jones said, per Yahoo! Sports. "The facts are that we do have depth. We don't have depth with someone (of) his very unique qualities."
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That's clearly true. There's a reason Diggs received a five-year, $97 million contract extension this offseason. He is one of the best in the game, and his ability to succeed in man coverage and take the ball away from the other team is rare. The Cowboys are fortunate that they have solid depth, as well as one of the league's best defensive fronts so they can take some pressure off the players on the back end. But without Diggs, the ceiling for what looked like it had the capability to be a truly, all-time special defense is certainly quite a bit lower.