FRISCO (AP) — The Cowboys remained focused on defense in the NFL draft, shifting to pass coverage Friday after trying to boost the pass rush with their first pick.
Dallas selected Colorado cornerback Chidobe Awuzie 60th overall in the second round, not a surprising move after losing lost two starters in free agency in Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne.
The Cowboys went cornerback again with the 92nd overall pick in the third round, taking Jourdan Lewis, a Michigan teammate of Dallas’ first-round choice, defensive end Taco Charlton. Lewis has a domestic violence charge pending in Michigan.
Awuzie had five interceptions in four seasons with the Buffaloes. His 26 tackles for loss were the most for a defensive back in school history. He played cornerback and both safety spots.
“They know they can put me anywhere,” said Awuzie, who said the Cowboys have already talked to him about playing all over the secondary. “I am going to embrace the underdog role, and no matter where they line me up, I’m going to outperform the next guy.”
In the first round Thursday, the Cowboys tried to bolster a mediocre pass rush by taking Charlton 28th overall.
Executive vice president of personnel Stephen Jones said after the opening night of the draft that the Cowboys went with Charlton because they thought the options were getting limited with pass rushers while the pool of potential cornerbacks remained deep.
And Dallas stuck with the plan of taking one.
The Cowboys had eight interceptions two years ago when they were last in the NFL in takeaways and turnover margin, and just nine last season when their offense carried them to the top seed in the NFC behind a pair of rookie sensations in quarterback Dak Prescott, the Offensive Rookie of the Year, and NFL rushing champion Ezekiel Elliott.
Cornerbacks accounted for just four interceptions last year, and none of them had more than one. And the biggest play of the season was a letdown in the secondary, when Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers completed a 36-yard pass to Jared Cook to set up a final-play field goal for the win in a divisional playoff game.
Even with the loss of Carr and Claiborne, Dallas has two capable starters in Orlando Scandrick and Anthony Brown, another promising young player from last year’s draft, one of the best in franchise history.
But the Cowboys are still searching for an impact player five years after signing Carr to a big contract in free agency and moving up eight spots in the draft to take Claiborne sixth overall in 2012.
Dallas needs help at safety as well after losing two more starters in free agency in Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox.
Lewis pleaded not guilty last month to misdemeanor domestic violence after authorities say he assaulted his girlfriend. The charge is punishable by up to 93 days in jail and a $500 fine.