When it comes to the Cowboys, several players can be looked at as X-factors. CeeDee Lamb, Tony Pollard, and even Michael Gallup when healthy fit that description for the Cowboys offensively.
On the defensive side of the ball, Micah Parsons would be the first choice for this distinction. However, Pro Football Focus has another player in mind. In terms of the 2022 season, they listed cornerback Trevon Diggs as the Cowboys’ biggest X-factor.
PFF’s Ben Linsey on what makes Diggs a difference maker:
“Cornerback Trevon Diggs became one of the most polarizing players in the NFL last season due to his boom-or-bust, risk-taking play style. Diggs’ 1,016 passing yards allowed into his coverage in 2021 led the NFL, but he was still a valuable component of the Cowboys’ better-than-expected defense because interceptions are such high-leverage plays, and Diggs came away with 11 of them. The question now becomes how replicable those results are this season.”
Diggs hasn’t established himself as a true lockdown corner yet seeing as he can still get better with his technique. With that said, he has already shown elite ability in one area, creating turnovers because of his nose for the ball. In 28 career games, he’s logged 14 interceptions and ran two back for touchdowns.
That was the key component in the Cowboys’ turning around their defense from 2020 when they gave up a franchise-record 473 points. The Cowboys led the NFL in turnovers with 34 last season, and Diggs was the biggest contributor with a league-leading 11 interceptions. It will be hard for the Cowboys’ defense as a whole to replicate that many extra possessions again in 2022, but if Diggs individually keeps taking the ball away at the rate he does, it will set up the offense with a lot of favorable drives.
With only five years of experience at corner, Diggs has shown an uncanny ability to make plays on the ball with his instincts. A big advantage he has is having played the wide receiver position in high school and college so he can recognize certain tendencies.
Diggs may give up plays here and there with his style of play. However, if it results in a plethora of turnovers, the Cowboys will live with it.
Feature image via Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports