We're taking a look back at the 2012 season by analyzing the work done by all of the Cowboys position groups by themselves. The cornerbacks are up next.
The Players: The Cowboys pinned a lot of their hopes for the season on acquiring Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne to give them the cornerback play they sorely missed in 2011. The season didn't go quite as planned in the record department, but they got a pair of starters better than they had before. Orlando Scandrick and Mike Jenkins played in sub packages with Sterling Moore replacing Scandrick at the end of the year after Scandrick broke his wrist.
2012 Performance: Carr proved worth the money and played very well while the rest of the defense was falling apart because of injury. His interception to set up the win against Pittsburgh was the kind of play that would have gone down in the annals if the rest of his teammates could have made a few more of them.
Claiborne's level wasn't quite as high and he had some dreadful games -- five penalties in the first Eagles game -- but there was enough skill there to see why he went sixth overall. He was solid this year, with the obvious hope that there's something more exciting in the future.
Scandrick's job as a slot corner is a tough one. When he wins, you usually don't notice it. When he loses, as in the Atlanta game, it is a glaring error. Jenkins was ineffectual and Moore actually did a better job after signing off the street.
Room for Improvement: You're not changing the starters so any across the board improvement will have to come from depth. In a perfect world, you'd have a better slot corner than Scandrick and Scandrick would play the fourth corner. Moore's a guy who should be fighting for a job, right now he's probably guaranteed one. Jenkins won't be back.
Individually, Claiborne's obviously got room to grow.
Chance of Improvement: Claiborne should improve in his second season, although the switch in defenses could slow that curve down a little bit. It isn't a perfect world so Scandrick likely stays in the third spot. It's not the worst thing in the world, though. And, again, it'll be a new defensive scheme so it's hard to know just how the pieces fit in the abstract.
Long-Term Outlook: As strong as things look at the top, cornerback is a position where you should constantly be bringing in new bodies. The NFL isn't going to turn into a running league again anytime soon and there's always a need for good athletes on special teams to boot.
Having said that, the Cowboys have bigger priorities than corner right now.
Conclusion: If the Cowboys were to hit it as big on offensive linemen this offseason as they did on corners last offseason, the team would really be getting somewhere. The new defense could cause some unforeseen changes to the reserves or to productivity, but the Cowboys are well stocked at corner.