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Even After Restructures, Dallas Cowboys Should Consider Tackle in the First Round

The Dallas Cowboys cleared up salary cap space the other day by restructuring the contracts of offensive tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins. Both players missed all or nearly all of the 2020 season with injuries and brought the question of drafting an offensive tackle with a premium pick to the forefront in 2021.

Yesterday, fellow Staff Writer Brian Martin here at InsideTheStar.com wrote a piece crossing offensive tackle off the list of potential directions the Dallas Cowboys could go with the 10th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Brian makes a great point that the Cowboys must feel really good about the health of their tackles as they head into draft season. However, given the issues the Cowboys have had along the offensive line, it wouldn’t be wise for the Cowboys to ignore the offensive line.

Yes, when healthy, Tyron Smith and La’el Collins are one of the better tackle tandems in the NFL, but that “when healthy” caveat is being used far too often when describing the Cowboys offensive line situation. Throw in the back issues that have cropped up with Zack Martin over the last couple of years and you have an aging offensive line with injuries in areas of the body that are extremely vital to an offensive lineman’s performance.

Tyron’s neck is going to be involved in every snap. As is his back. As is La’el’s hips. As is Zack’s back. Ignoring offensive line solely because you restructured these contracts and have a good feeling that these players will be able to see the end of their contracts isn’t a wise plan.

Remember, when drafting you aren’t simply looking at the coming season, but are drafting with two or three years in mind. Like in the 2017 NFL Draft. Sure, the Cowboys needed an infusion of secondary talent when they drafted Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Xavier Woods. At the same time, the Cowboys saw that Byron Jones and Jeff Heath would have contracts expiring after the 2019 season as well. They would need players to help bridge the gap and provide some insurance if they lost those players in free agency, which they did.

Scratching any position off your draft list isn’t a good approach to drafting. Had the Cowboys completely ruled out wide receiver before the 2020 NFL Draft because they had Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, they wouldn’t have landed CeeDee Lamb and we know how good of a draft pick that was in his rookie year.

As Stephen Jones mentioned in the press conference to announce Dak Prescott’s contract signing, the Cowboys have to keep an open mind when it comes to any position in the NFL Draft. Ruling out a position leaves you open to draft mistakes. Had the Cowboys passed on Lamb for another position, it might have worked, but they wouldn’t have hit the home run they hit by adding arguably the best wide receiver in the draft.

The Cowboys at 10 will be in a great position to add a standout defensive player to their roster for 2021 and that’s likely the direction they’ll go. Patrick Surtain, Caleb Farley, and Jaycee Horn are excellent prospects that will fit nicely in Dan Quinn’s defense. But there are also several really offensive players and offensive tackles that could be available there for the Dallas Cowboys as well.

Rashawn Slater is a player that the Dallas Cowboys could plug in right away at right tackle or at left guard on their offensive line. They don’t need him, but given the injury history of Tyron Smith, it would be wise to consider drafting Slater at 10 and getting him ready to play left tackle in the even Smith continues to have issues with his neck and back.

Going into free agency or the NFL Drat, you want to keep an open mind, because you never know the opportunities that will present themselves. Completely ruling out a position may cause the Cowboys to miss on a significant upgrade at a position group that they might not have thought of otherwise.

That reality led to CeeDee Lamb at 17 last year, and I think it’s safe to say, we all enjoyed his fine work during his first year in the NFL. Keep an open mind.

What do you think?

John Williams

Written by John Williams

Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual, reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.

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  1. Franky I was shocked they restructured T Smith. Martin and Collins made sense but the gimpy Smith?

    Based on the Smith restructuring i would expect them to wait till 2nd/3rd rd to go OL especially with the defensive needs. But if Sewell somehow falls?

  2. I disagree John , the thing about O-Line , you can almost always find really good quality O-Lineman in rounds like 2-4 or even later , especially if you’re just looking for backups for the time being anyways , they’re pretty comparable to like the pros and cons of picking a RB in 1st round , I do think your suggestion of maybe going with Kyle Pitts at TE you presented in a earlier article could actually be a possibility , but OT with 1st round pick ? WIth all the needs we have on D ?

    If I have a choice between Slater or say Parsons at LB , i’d go Parsons , if he isn’t there then i’d consider trading down being another option and a better one then just going with Slater at 10 , we could then pickup a extra 3rd (which we could use to get a OT or fill another position of need) and still possibly get Horn , who might be best CB in draft , or get someone like Barmore who could help us with a need at DT

    if i can’t do any of those things then maybe i’d go Slater as a last resort , but i don’t think that would be a big option for me

    • Connor Williams and Connor McGovern were 2nd and 3rd round picks.

      Williams has been solid, but by no means a dominant player.

      After two seasons, we still don’t know what we have in McGovern.

      Slater is a sure thing. I do get what you’re saying about defense, though Parsons wouldn’t be my target. And yes, Pitts should certainly be in consideration as well.

  3. If Sewell falls Gary b , i’d consider it then , he’s imo one of 3 surefire hits in this draft , he could very much be the next T Smith , I doubt he will though , if he does then I’m pretty salty if i’m a Bengals fan or if I’m Joe Burrow

    I to was surprised they restructured T Smith contract but the damage is done , we gotta go with him for the short term anyways

    • Agreed. I’d be floored if they went away from Sewell. But they could reunite Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase and that could be super fun. Come back at the top of the second and get a tackle. But Sewell would be incredibly difficult to pass on.

  4. This is why Dallas is doomed to not win a Superbowl any time soon hanging on to old injured players the Cheifs just cut both their tackles for the same reason you can’t win in the NFL making ignorant gutless decisions over and over the only reason they signed Dak was fear so they pay a average QB like he’s perennial pro bowler and everyone knows he’s not just an average frame of mind doomed to mediocrity

  5. I don’t think Dak’s average Don , even before I was anti pay Dak , i still thought he was right at top 10 QB and if he can put that stats up and back that up with wins , then he can be very much worth what we paid him , though i do think we did overpay , but the jury is out still as he can prove whether he’s right to be paid what he is being paid , or not

  6. Simply put, the only positions off-limits with the #10 pick are FB, RB, QB, and C. Because of the talent that could still possibly (stress: possibly) be available at that pick, even TE or WR is a viable option (if Pitts or Chase are still there). Literally, everything else is a possibility, and can be argued as prudent.

  7. Such a bad idea. Quite a few quality OTs (granted not instant starter Slater good) throughout the draft. Dallas can’t win because their D sucks. If you are going to waste a pick in Round 1 on OT, trade back and gain more picks.

    • What if you addressed needs in free agency with actuall players instead of low-rent afterthoughts.

      In theory I agree, but expecting any first round rookie defender to step in and be a game changer is unrealistic.

      Slater is instantly your starting LG in year one.

  8. If Sewell falls to 10 than all bets are off and they move Collins back to RG and Sewell at RT. Dallas must feel real good abt Tyron’s progress. We’ll see, but I dnt see him playing 16 games and if he does than we will go deep into the playoffs.

    • I agree, Sewell is the CeeDee Lamb of this draft. If he gets to you by some inexplicable reason then you pull the trigger and figure out what to do with your offensive line after.

  9. After reading some comments, I agree the only possibility of signing an OT is if Sewell is available at # 10. But realistically, he wont be. Cincinnati or the Jets will pick him up right away !

  10. OK….the Cowboys screwed this last season up so badly that the very LAST thing they should do is trade back. If you are fortunate, or unfortunate enough to have a top 10 pick, try to get one of the few blue chip type players that are not going to be there later in the spot you traded back to. This team needs playmakers, not leftovers. If you have a shot at one of the best players in the draft, the same player that is a playmaker and can immediately be an impact player, you take him. DB, LB, DL or OL, take him. This team has holes everywhere. No games, draft a top 10 player!

  11. Yeah the problem Stephen is there isn’t really a blue chip surefire Defensive player in this draft ,

    I like Parsons the most of any of the defensive prospects but he has some off the field issues and he hasn’t played a ton at LB

    I like Farley but his injury history concerns me and the possibility of him injuring it again ,

    Surtain is good , but seems to lack some speed which is something you can’t teach

    Horn is my fave at CB but there’s a good chance you can trade back and still get him

    so there isn’t necessarily a guy there at 10 that’s a standout above the rest of D players , so i do believe trading back and picking up a 3rd (another dice roll, a gamble , maybe if we do that enough , we’ll hit on something ) and still getting a Defensive player we need in first round

    OR if we stick at 10 , then i’m open to going Offense like a Pitts at TE or maybe even Waddle at WR (he’s a speed demon)

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