It’s been an unusually busy offseason in the NFL in regard to the quarterback position. These moves not only impact where quarterbacks fall in the NFL Draft but it also shuffles draft projections greatly.
The Cowboys are a team with a few specific needs. However, none is more pressing then solidifying their offensive line.
There are few elite offensive line prospects in this years draft and even less elite offensive guards. Prospects Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper were the guys who many had pegged to help keep Tony Romo upright.
That all seems like a pipe dream now, the latest transactions might have ruined that.
Here is a list of quarterback transactions:
San Francisco 49ers- Acquired QB Colt McCoy via trade
Buffalo Bills- Signed QB Kevin Kolb
Cleveland Browns- Signed QB Jason Campbell
Arizona Cardinals- Signed QB Brian Hoyer
Kansas City Chiefs- Traded for QB Alex Smith, Signed QB Chase Daniel
New York Jets- Signed QB David Garrard
Oakland Raiders- Acquired QB Matt Flynn via trade
Here is a list of other major transactions with draft implications:
Cleveland Browns- Signed Paul Kruger, Signed Desmond Bryant
Miami Dolphins: Signed Mike Wallace, Signed Dannell Ellerbe, Signed Brent Grimes,
Tennessee Titans: Signed Andy Levitre
St. Louis Rams: Signed Jake Long
San Diego Chargers: Signed Derek Cox
Philadelphia Eagles: Signed Connor Barwin
Why is this important?
The surface-reaction is that teams spend money in free agency. We see this all the time right? Big name players get paid big money to play big roles on new teams.
While, mostly, I agree with that statement, it has a different meaning this year. For the first time in a good bit, there are no legitimate blue-chip players, there are no franchise caliber quarterbacks that are luring teams, and there are no sure-fire locks in this draft.
Simply put, the Cowboys can’t count on their plans working out. Now that teams have filled some of their other needs, the chances the Cowboys land their targeted players is substantially dwindling.
Here is a list of teams that have comparable needs of the Cowboys that draft before 18 overall:
Detroit Lions- Offensive Line, Safety
Cleveland Browns- Offensive Guard
Arizona Cardinals- Offensive Line
Tennessee Titans- Offensive Line
San Diego Chargers- Offensive Line
Miami Dolphins- Offensive Tackle
Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Safety
Carolina Panthers- Defensive Tackle
New Orleans Saints- Offensive/Defensive Line
St. Louis Rams- Offensive Guard, Safety
The Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Oakland Raiders and Philadelphia Eagles have all been linked to first round quarterbacks. However, those teams have filled their needs in other places. The Cleveland Browns have been linked to a few linebackers. The Miami Dolphins have solidified most of their needs outside of offensive line. The St. Louis Rams most glaring hole is at interior offensive line.
My point here is very clear; most teams recognize that this is a deep draft in regards to offensive lineman. As the free agency period has concluded most teams have spent small amounts of money to secure big needs.
Now there are 10 teams drafting ahead of the Cowboys that are all targeting one of the five elite offensive lineman in this draft class.
It’s a chess match, one where teams are ensuring the most value for their limited budgets. The Cowboys need offensive lineman but so does the rest of the league. The Cowboys lack of funds may have them a step behind in the game.
Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper are the best options for the Cowboys because they lack the cap space to sign premier free agents at the position. However, with offensive lineman commanding so much money in the open market the best plan for all teams has been to acquire through the draft.
The Cowboys may not get their targets in the first round but they can’t afford to whiff. They must be diligent in studying all potential prospects to ensure the team improves.
It’s a long game of strategic movements and the Cowboys need to plan thoroughly or they’ll find themselves in the worst place…