Cowboys rookie minicamp: CB Caelen Carson adjusting to blueprint of the NFL

It wasn’t one of the top positions of need entering the NFL draft, but the Dallas Cowboys needed to add another cornerback with Trevon Diggs returning from a torn ACL and the uncertainty of former Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore still in free agency. Dallas waited until Day 3 and took Caelen Carson out of Wake Forest in the fifth round.

The Cowboys welcomed their 20 rookies to the Star in Frisco for minicamp on Thursday. Although he was a late-round selection, Carson isn’t looking to turn heads or prove himself in camp. Instead, it’s about adjusting to what it takes to make it on the professional level.

“Just trying to get used to the grind,” said Carson. “Not really trying to prove nothing. Prove something to myself for real, but I ain’t coming out here trying to do too much.”

Carson doesn’t have long speed downfield or a ton of ball production, but he does a great job of sticking to wide receivers by using his hands to disrupt routes and having the ability to flip his hips quickly. He has a very physical style of play and does a great job of dissecting plays and attacking downhill. Carson is also equipped to play against the run, posting a run defense grade of 83.4 for Wake Forest last season per Pro Football Focus.

During his collegiate days, Carson showed versatility by logging 98 snaps in the slot over the last three seasons. However, he’s more comfortable as an outside corner as he amassed 1,289 snaps on the boundary. That’s where he’ll take his reps for the Cowboys behind All-Pro’s Diggs and DaRon Bland while battling Nahshon Wright, Eric Scott and others for primary backup duties.

Carson is coming into a great situation having accomplished veterans in front of him, especially when it comes to Diggs.

Definitely. And we got the Maryland connection, too.

Diggs was born in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and attended Thomas S. Wootton High School (Rockville) and The Avaion School (Wheaton) while Carson was born in Waldorf, Maryland, and went to North Point High School. Carson is also a former receiver like Diggs, which undoubtedly helps him recognize tendencies and nuances while playing corner.

Defensive backs coach Al Harris has molded Diggs and Bland into elite playmakers. He has a great foundation with Carson, and it’ll be interesting to see how fast he can get him developed.


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