While offensive tackle isn’t high on the Dallas Cowboys’ list of needs this year, it’s still an area of interest for the 2019 NFL Draft. Preparing for 2020, when La’el Collins becomes a free agent, should factor into the Cowboys’ draft strategy.
Right now things look great on paper; Collins and Tyron Smith are the starters and veteran Cam Fleming is the swing tackle. Dallas could easily stand pat this season and worry about 2020 during the next offseason.
In a way, the Cowboys have already begun preparing for the future. Fleming’s new contract includes a team option for the 2020 season. Some have speculated that this is so Dallas can use Cameron as insurance against not re-signing Collins next year.
Remember that Fleming started over 20 games in his time with the New England Patriots, including playoff appearances. He was a starter in the AFC Championship Game and Super Bowl during the 2017 season.
Roughly speaking, Cam Fleming will probably cost about half what La’el Collins would in 2020. Depending on how Collins performs this season, Dallas may decide that Fleming is the better value.
If the Cowboys are thinking about moving on from Collins next year, drafting someone now could have a dual benefit. If nothing else, that player could hopefully move into the swing tackle role that promoting Fleming would vacate.
Ideally, though, that young OT prospect could compete for the starting role.
Another consideration here is the age and health of decorated left tackle Tyron Smith. Turning 29 in December, Smith remains one of the top tackles in football but has struggled with nagging injuries the last few years. Those red flags become bigger and brighter as he goes into his 30s.
Tyron had only played 13 games in each of the last three years. A few of those nine misses were for veteran rest, but the other were due to injuries. There has to be some concern that Smith could miss even more time as his career continues.
Cam Fleming is far better suited to play right tackle, as is La’el Collins. In the event that Tyron were to be out or an extended period, Dallas might want someone in place with the athleticism and skill set to play the left side.
That being said, the 2019 draft may not be right time to find that player. Dallas has more critical needs at most other positions.
If they were to draft any OT, it’d be because a player of exceptional value fell into Day 3.
However, unlike running backs or even interior offensive linemen, impressive offensive tackles don’t tend to fall in the draft. They are highly coveted, claiming two starting spots and a key reserve role on almost any NFL roster.
The most likely scenario for the Cowboys drafting an offensive tackle is in the seventh round, perhaps some small school player who the team doesn’t want to risk losing in undrafted free agency.
So no, even though there are some potential uses for an offensive tackle out of his 2019 draft, I don’t see any significant picks being spent on one.
Draft Likelihood: 10%
Projected Round: 7th
~ ~ ~