Todd Archer, ESPN Staff Writer 51d

How Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs' game, name growing quickly

FRISCO, Texas -- The names that second-year cornerback Trevon Diggs finds himself in the same conversations with these days just keep getting bigger and bolder.

Not many knew cornerback Don Bishop had interceptions in each of the first five games in 1961 for the Dallas Cowboys, but Diggs has matched that team record. With 12 games left to play, he can begin to look at the team record of 11 set by Everson Walls in 1981 and thinking about becoming the first player with more than 10 picks in a season since Walls' mark 40 years ago.

"How many picks does he have? Six? That's crazy," Ezekiel Elliott said. "What's the NFL record?"

Dick "Night Train," Lane had 14 in 1952 for the Los Angeles Rams.

"OK, that's a lot," Elliott said. "But if they keep throwing at the kid, he's going to get more. I mean, he almost had two other ones today. If you keep throwing the ball at 7, he's going to pick you off. I think it's about time for quarterbacks to stop looking his way."

Maybe the quarterbacks will stop looking his way and limit his chances, but announcer Troy Aikman said on the Fox broadcast Diggs' play is reminding him of former Cowboys cornerback Deion Sanders. Former Cowboys greats Michael Irvin and Dez Bryant tweeted the same thing.

Last week, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn did not name names when asked if Diggs reminded him of any other cornerback he had coached but it was clear who he was talking about.

"I hope we are having this conversation years from now and people are saying, 'He reminds me of Trevon Diggs,'" Quinn said. "He is a very unique player with the length of his arms and ball skills. So I will leave that to you guys, but he is off to a fantastic start.

"Certainly I have had players in the past who have had those kind of length and ball skills. Honestly I love them both. So I don't want to compare one to the other. He just came back in the league."

Quinn was referencing Richard Sherman, a five-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro, who he coached in Seattle and returned to the NFL two weeks ago with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Sherman has taken noticed. He tweeted Diggs is the Defensive Player of the Year so far.

"It's amazing. It's a blessing. He's someone I was watching in college," Diggs said. "When I got switched over to defensive back, I was like 'Who can I watch that's similar to me, similar to my body type.' He was one of the guys that I was really watching. The Legion of Boom was there, so I was watching him do a great job on the field. That's why I still look up to him. I have a tremendous amount of respect. So, that meant a lot."

After picking off two Sam Darnold passes in the Cowboys' win against the Carolina Panthers, Diggs was asked for his definition of a lockdown corner.

"Darrelle Revis. He when he was out there playing that was someone I really watched and looked up to," he said. "He's a true lockdown corner."

Revis was a four-time All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowler in his 11 years spent with four teams, but he never had more than six interceptions in season in part because quarterbacks did not throw his way.

"Some of these interceptions he's getting, I learned long ago in the spring not to try him on those routes or on those plays," quarterback Dak Prescott said. "When he gets interceptions I almost laugh, like, 'Yeah, I understand.'"

Diggs never wanted to play cornerback. During his freshman season at Alabama, he was a receiver like his brother, Stefon Diggs, who stars for the Buffalo Bills and was with the Minnesota Vikings at the time of the switch. Trevon wanted to fall in line with the other great Alabama receivers, like Julio Jones and his current teammate, Amari Cooper. Alabama coach Nick Saban had other ideas, moving Trevon as a sophomore.

"I was hurt at first, honestly," Diggs said. "I called my brother. I was crying. He's not the type to be saying, 'Oh it's OK.' He's like, 'Nah, come on. Let's go. Now we got to go to work.' He's one of those types. And that's exactly what I did. I sucked it up and got back to work. And I thank Saban for that."

What was Saban's selling point?

"He said that the league is looking for corners with your body type, tall, long," Diggs said. "That's how he sold it."

The NFL is also looking for cornerbacks with ball skills. He has more combined interceptions (six) and deflections (10, which leads the league) than completions allowed (15).

According to Next Gen Stats, opposing quarterbacks have completed 15 of 34 passes against Diggs for 267 yards for a 32.0 passer rating through five games. The 44.1% completion percentage against Diggs is the ninth-best among defensive backs as the nearest defender with a minimum of 100 coverage snaps.

Coach Mike McCarthy said Diggs has the best balls skills he has seen for a young corner. Diggs looked like a receiver in tracking Giants quarterback Mike Glennon's deep throw to receiver C.J. Board, reaching 21 mph, according to Next Gen Stats, before leaping for the pick.

"I was standing there with Dak and I'll use his words -- 'I've never seen anything like it,'" McCarthy said. "The ball goes up in the air and he's coming down with it. I don't even think it's a 50/50 ball anymore."

After a promising rookie season with three interceptions, the Cowboys felt they had a building block for their secondary, but nobody could have expected this.

"The first thing I say is keep pedaling downhill, man. Keep attacking," Quinn said. "I just want him to stay in this pocket of where he's at. He's present, he stays focused and he doesn't look past anything other than nailing that day and that week. I've been impressed by that so far."

Diggs was named the NFC's defensive player of the month for September and has added three more interceptions in two October games. He is the first Cowboy with six picks in a season since cornerback Anthony Henry in 2007 and the season is just five weeks old. The Cowboys have not had a Defensive Player of the Year since Charles Haley in 1994, although DeMarcus Ware finished second in 2008 when he had 20 sacks.

With an interception Sunday against the New England Patriots, Diggs can match the longest season-opening interception streak in NFL history at six games held by three players. The most legendary of Cowboys' names is on that list in Tom Landry, who opened the 1951 season with a pick in six straight games for the New York Giants.

"I try not to chase anything," Diggs said. "I just take what they give me. I play how I play. If I read my keys and do what I'm supposed to do, it's going to take care of itself."

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