The Cowboys have an intriguing rookie free agent cornerback coming into training camp. Oh, I can hear some of you skeptics out there. All the free agents are intriguing this time of year. Okay, I’ll grant you that, but this free agent is especially intriguing.
Chris Westry comes out of Kentucky. Yeah, I was surprised too. I thought they only played basketball at Rupp University. Who knew? But, this young man might look more at home on the hardwood floor. Westry is a 6’4” cornerback. T
hat might make him the tallest the Cowboys have ever had. Chris also runs a 4.5 second forty, which qualifies him for the position.
What we have to remember is who coaches defensive backs for Dallas.
The cornerback guru for the Cowboys is Chris Richard, who has a well-known propensity for tall rangy corners. A tall speedy lump of Clay for Richard to mold? It might be fun to watch.
Thought the story ended right there, until I read an article in Dallascowboys.com.
What are the odds of a free agent becoming something special?
After all, 32 teams passed on him for seven rounds. Well, these are the same Dallas Cowboys who have had just a pinch of luck with undrafted DBs.
Would you like a list? Okay. Let’s take them in reverse order:
10. Danny McCrae, a safety taken in 2010. He joins Cowboy legend Bill Bates as the only players to lead the Cowboys in special team tackles two years in a row. He currently ranks 6th all-time in special team tackles.
9. Keith Davis, or should I say, Italy’s own Keith Davis. Keith, not only made the team as a free agent, but he did it after being shot on two different occasions.
The former Gladiator safety was also a special team whiz. Davis ranks third all-time in special team tackles.
8. Jeff Heath, currently a starting safety. Heath, who started his Cowboy career injured, has been a fixture in the defensive backfield that has become a strength on defense.
7. Barry Church a safety also signed in 2010 along with McCrae. Church was a fixture at safety for most of his seven years with our guys, until he signed with Tampa Bay as an unrestricted free agent in 2017.
The Cowboys still liked him. He just got to be too expensive.
6. Bill Bates. Second to Roger Staubach, possibly the second most popular Cowboy of all time. Bill Bates put the special in special teams. Bill was so good, he forced the NFL to add a Pro Bowl spot just for special teams players.
Bates played 15 years for the Cowboys. 15 years is unheard of unless your name is Tuinei or Witten.
5. Mike Gaechter. Now, you have to be as old as Ray Jacobs or I to remember this name. Gaechter was an undrafted free agent back when I was too shy to try that new-fangled twist dance at my first 7th grade up close encounter with 7th grade girls.
Oh, and you have to remember, back in 1962, there were about 50 rounds to the NFL draft.
4. Michael Downs out of Rice was signed in 1981. Downs had seven interceptions as a rookie starter over 15 games.
He had 35 interceptions over nine seasons. He had at least one interception or fumble recovery in each of those nine seasons….
Oh, and he was only the second best DB signed as a free agent that year.
3. Everson Walls was the reason Downs was only the second best free agent DB in ’81.
Walls, out of Grambling was too slow to play corner in the NFL. In 1981, Walls had 11 interceptions. In ’82, he had seven in a strike shortened nine game season. He led the league three times in interceptions.
2. Cornell Green. Downs and Walls in the same year? Try Gaechter and Cornell Green both being signed as undrafted free agents in ’62. In 13 seasons, Green had 34 interceptions and made five Pro Bowls.
1. And, at number one … drum roll please … Cliff Harris. Harris, a Ring of Honor member, and a man who should be in the NFL Hall of Fame, was the ultimate safety.
He was a terror for receivers over the middle, and played the position like an extra linebacker.
The Ouachita Baptist grad, had 29 career interceptions, but was third in league history with six playoff picks. One of the greatest safeties to ever play the game.
So, Chris Westry, may not be a Hall of Famer. He may not be a starter.
Heck, he may not even make the practice squad. However, with the Dallas history, we can certainly call him intriguing.