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Cowboys Must Make Offensive Line Depth a Priority

Jess Haynie

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Chaz Green

The Cowboys' 9-7 finish in 2017 exposed some clear weaknesses on their roster. One of the major problem areas was the depth of the offensive line, which should make it a top priority in the 2018 offseason.

Of course, any mention of offensive line woes makes you think of Chaz Green getting obliterated by Adrian Clayborn and the Atlanta Falcons. Clayborn, who only had 9.5 sacks total for the year, picked up six of them in that game as Green tried to play left tackle for the injured Tyron Smith. But the issue extends beyond Chaz.

Byron Bell was an improvement -- but still a liability -- when he took over as the swing tackle. Further, the Cowboys currently have no proven backups at guard or center with Joe Looney's contract now expired.

Now that Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin are all veterans, Dallas has to start thinking about the wear and tear they take, and having better reserve options in place. The luxury of guys like La'el Collins and Jonathan Cooper on the bench is over; they're now starters after Ronald Leary and Doug Free departed last season.

Cowboys Place LT Tyron Smith On IR Before Week 17

Dallas Cowboys OT Tyron Smith

Even though all of the starters are in their prime years, injuries can happen at anytime. All it takes is that one play when your legs get caught under you; "pop" goes the ACL, and your season is over.

The Cowboys rely too heavily on their offensive line to play loose with the depth chart. Going thin last year just might have cost them a game or two when Smith and Collins had to miss time, and Dallas can't take that same chance in 2018 with a return to the playoffs as their goal.

Thankfully, picking up quality depth isn't a major expense. Solid veteran reserves can be had for a couple million dollars, maybe even less.

If they elect to use the draft to restock, a capable swing tackle may be found in the second or third round. A solid guard or center option could even be found in the middle rounds.

There will be plenty of spots to fill. Outside of the returning starters, Dallas only has Chaz Green and prospects Kadeem Edwards and Jarron Jones under contract. Like Joe Looney, Byron Bell is also a free agent this offseason.

As much as we're focused on more glamorous positions right now for offseason needs, the offensive line depth should not take a backseat. All the receiver talent in the world doesn't matter if Dak Prescott is getting killed like he was that day in Atlanta.

The time for experiments and second chances (sorry Chaz) is over.


Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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1 Comment
  • Travis Diggs

    Forget depth, i wouldn’t be opposed to offensive line with the first pick. Will Hernandez or Orlando Brown Jr will take this OL to the next level. Wrs, Rbs, and whatever else can wait to the later rounds

Dallas Cowboys

Should Gregory’s Potential Reinstatement Alter Cowboys Draft Plan?

Sean Martin

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Cowboys en Español: Buenas Noticias para Jaylon Smith, ¿Fin de Randy Gregory?, ¿Adiós a Lucky Whitehead?

A lot has happened with the Dallas Cowboys roster in a short period of time leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft. Just four days away now, the Cowboys are still adjusting to life without Dez Bryant, and may be preparing to welcome back Randy Gregory this season.

After months of speculation about the Cowboys' exiled pass rusher turning his life around for the better, the end result may be Gregory triumphantly returning to the field and filling a considerable position of need in Dallas.

Through Gregory's numerous absences from the Cowboys, the team has searched for temporary fixes at his right defensive end spot until drafting Taco Charlton in the first round last year. In his rookie season, Charlton looked much better at left end behind DeMarcus Lawrence than he ever did rushing against left tackles.

mike fisher ✭ on Twitter

ALERT: Sources offer me very positive reports on #Cowboys DE @RandyGregory_4 coming bid for NFL reinstatement, as @BobbyBeltTX also notes. Randy Gregory has a chance to be a terrific story.

Randy Gregory can beat left tackles with speed and bend, but also has more career suspensions than he does sacks. Finding another defensive end with these traits in the draft could put the Cowboys defensive line over the top, but doing so with this year's class could cost them a pick better spent elsewhere.

Of course, this will be the case if Gregory does complete a comeback that the Cowboys have been understandably quiet about until recently. Stephen Jones has said the plan for Gregory is to apply for reinstatement following the draft.

The Cowboys "smart" approach of rebuilding their front four on defense as if Gregory would never see the field again has yielded them plenty of success - at all but the spot Gregory would line up at. DeMarcus Lawrence, David Irving, Maliek Collins, and Taco Charlton should all inspire hope for this unit in 2018.

This is more than we were ever able to say about forgotten defenders like Benson Mayowa, who remains a free agent RDE.

Sean's Scout: Cowboys Can Fix RDE Problems with BC's Harold Landry

The same can be said about prospects like Harold Landry or Marcus Davenport. At this point though, it feels like a priority draft pick spent at DE is a sudden sign of nervousness about Randy Gregory's return by the Cowboys.

This team has plenty of depth to deploy Rod Marinelli's patented "waves" of pass rushers, finally entering a season with an elite talent at DE too. The opportunity to have DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory attack opposing quarterbacks from opposite sides is a reality the Cowboys are prepared to work towards.

They should do so looking elsewhere early in the draft, coming back to defensive end if a developmental player they like falls.

Tell us what you think about "Should Gregory’s Potential Reinstatement Alter Cowboys Draft Plan?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!


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Player News

Cowboys Quarterback is playing Moneyball

Shane Carter

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Jekyll or Hyde: Year 3 "Prove It" Season For Dak Prescott?

A Fully Focused Ezekiel Elliott can Carry the Cowboys into 2018 PlayoffsMoney talks, and no one talks louder than the Dallas Cowboys. It’s hard to find a more affordable Pro Bowl player than Dak Prescott. A former fourth-round pick from Mississippi State, Prescott is only scheduled to make around $680,000 in 2018. It’s only his third year, but it may be his most important when it comes to his future with the Cowboys.

When a team drafts its franchise quarterback, they usually only get about two seasons to prove they’re "the guy."

Every year, teams draft someone, usually in the first round, with hopes that he'll be their sought after franchise quarterback. However, by being drafted so high, there’s little margin for error afforded to them.

In Dak Prescott’s case, being drafted outside the first round, he wasn’t expected to contribute near as much in his first two seasons as he has. A day-one starter for the then injured Tony Romo gave him his opportunity and he has made the most of it.

In two seasons, Dak Prescott has a 22-10 record, made the playoffs and Pro Bowl, completed 65.2% of his passes and has added a new dimension in the Cowboys offense thanks to his mobility in and out of the pocket. However, I wouldn’t be the first to tell you that his year two wasn’t as good as his year one was. Prescott lost four more games, completed fewer passes and more interceptions in year two.

To be fair, some of his issues attributed to the injury of Tyron Smith, Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension and many of his receivers dropping more passes than we’ve previously seen. These issues will have to be cleaned up not only for the team, but for Dak Prescott’s future.

According to Spotrac.com, Dak Prescott’s market value today is around $25 million a year, which would make him among the most paid players in the league. In comparison, Kirk Cousins will be paid the most in the league at $28 million this year, while Aaron Rodgers will make $22 million.

So, the Cowboys quarterback's market value is among the best in the league.

Cowboys fans everywhere are rooting for him to succeed but year three will be crucial. If he can improve on his play from a year ago and keep winning games, he would likely see his extension happen sometime around his fourth season.

People have already seen Prescott at his highs and lows. Going into 2018 with a new receiving core, the return of Ezekiel Elliott and a new left guard will get rid of any excuses.

If Dak Prescott really is who he believes he is, and who fans know he can be, then the Cowboys have their quarterback. If not, then the search will continue.

Prescott should be plenty motivated to be the Cowboys quarterback for the present and the future. Also, he should be motivated by how much money he could get it.

It is a game, but it’s still a business. And C.R.E.A.M.


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Player News

Cowboys Expected to Pick Up Byron Jones’ Fifth-Year Option

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Film Room: Cowboys DB Byron Jones Is A Vital Piece To A Rebuilt Defense

2018 should be a huge year for the Cowboys' 2015 first-round pick Bryon Jones. After being used all over the secondary, it seems like he'll finally find a position to stay next season. The announcement was made that heading into his contract year, Jones would be moved to the cornerback position full-time.

Fortunately for him, the Cowboys are now expected to pick up his fifth-year option. This may come as a surprise for Cowboys Nation, given there haven't been any hints by the franchise to do so. However, it definitely will be a wise decision.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

The #Cowboys are expected to pick up the fifth-year option for Byron Jones, source said. That should give him $6.17M salary for 2019, one that is guaranteed for injury. The 2015 first-round pick should benefit from a full-time move to corner.

Since he played most of his snaps as a safety in 2017 (his third year in the league), Byron's fifth-option will be less expensive than one from a cornerback. This is obviously good news for the front office since it means more cap space will be available in 2019.

Hopefully, Byron finds success under the new secondary coach in Dallas, Kris Richard. With him moving to cornerback full-time, we might just see his incredible athleticism translate into consistent impact on the field.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Byron Jones said ever since Kris Richard was hired as the Cowboys' new DBs coach he talked about moving Byron back to CB. "I think it will be a good move for me and the team.

Jones has a ton of talent but bouncing from one position to another is not good for player progression. Heck, we talk about how hard it is for many talented prospects to come into the NFL and adapt, now imagine a player who's played in different spots in the secondary all through his first three years.

If #31 becomes a quality starting cornerback in 2018, the CB room will be loaded in Dallas.

Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis showed us they could become the next great CB duo for the Cowboys in their rookie seasons. Anthony Brown had a rough 2017, but can still play at a decent level if he's not asked to be CB1.

Add Byron Jones to the mix, and Cowboys Nation should be really comfortable with how this position will look next season.

Picking Byron's fifth-year option will be a wise decision for Dallas, and Cowboys fans should be happy about it. Let's go!

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Expected to Pick Up Byron Jones’ Fifth-Year Option" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!


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