FRISCO - The Dallas Cowboys prioritized cornerback atop the 2020 NFL Draft, and for all their celebration over selecting linebacker Micah Parsons in this year, truthfully were doing the same - prioritizing cornerback - atop the 2021 NFL Draft. Eventually, Dallas got there, taking a pair of corners on draft weekend.
All of whom now sit and learn as veteran Anthony Brown clings to the starting job.
"I definitely want to be a big brother to all the guys," says Brown, now entering his sixth NFL season and at 27 therefore the "old hand'' at the position. "I want them to look to me if they have any questions, if they have any concerns they want to talk about."
It's an ironic stance, because Brown helping last year's second-round pick, fellow starter Trevon Diggs, and because Brown helping this year's rookies (second-rounder Kelvin Joseph, third-rounder Nahshon Wright) might lead to him losing his spot.
But that is the nature of the gig.
"My mindset,'' he says, "is to make everybody better around me and do my job at the same time."
Also part of the nature of the gig: Playing through injuries - in the case of Brown, a series of issues that began in Week 2 when he sustained five fractured ribs in practice (a teammate accidentally cleated him in the midsection) ... which led to a punctured lung ... which a few weeks later was complicated by the fracturing of a few more ribs in a game a few weeks later.
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But he hangs in, and hangs on. At this moment, he's the other starter, with another vet, Jourdan Lewis, in the slot. Clearly, though, the Cowboys' masterplan is to have Diggs joined by Joseph in the starting lineup. And part of the plan, the nature of the sport when done right, is for Brown to mentor them, as guys like Brandon Carr and Orlando Scandrick once did for him when he was a 2016 sixth-round rookie.
Brown will say and do the right things; it seems to be his nature. And the benefits will hopefully come. An example: Diggs calls him a "big brother.''
"He's a really good influence on my career," Diggs said of Brown, who hopes to be that - and to be a good influence on his own.