The Dallas Cowboys seemed to have found a potential star in DaRon Bland.
Not bad for a guy they took in the fifth round of the draft last year.
Bland ran back his fourth interception for a touchdown of the season during Sunday’s win over the Carolina Panthers. The second-year corner is on the precipice of NFL history, as the pick-six of Bryce Young matched the NFL record for a single season.
It’s been 30 years since anyone has accomplished such a feat, with Eric Allen, Jim Kearney and Ken Houston the only others to do so. With seven games left in the season, it’s certainly conceivable Bland could set the record before the year ends.
Bland’s emergence has been a godsend for Dallas, especially with Trevon Diggs out for the season. He’s formed a formidable partnership with Stephon Gilmore as the Cowboys continue to boast one of the best defenses in the NFL.
Cowboys EVP Stephen Jones raved about Bland during his Monday appearance on K&C Masterpiece.
“He’s certainly playing as well as anybody, as far as we’re concerned,” Jones said. “A lot of people forget last year he led all rookies in interceptions. That’s one of the things we’re stressing when we do draft corners are their ball skills. We’ve had a lot of corners that are very sticky in coverage and play the position well, but haven’t had the ball skills. Guys like Diggs and Bland have.
“Guys like a (Terence) Newman and a Byron Jones are top, top corners, but they were not necessarily interceptors of the ball. Certainly we’ve got two now – Diggs unfortunately not being able to play for us right now.
“Bland is showing everybody why we liked him. Just making plays on the ball, which we can all see how that ultimately can win football games for you. That pick-six, that's what we really needed to put that game away yesterday. He continues to make plays like that for us.”
The ball skills always were there for Bland, but, ironically enough, he didn’t have a single defensive touchdown in college between three years at Sacramento State and one at Fresno State.
Regardless, he’s made that a big part of his game in the NFL, much to the benefit of the Cowboys.