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Luxury or Need for Cowboys to Draft Another 1st-Round OL?

Brian Martin

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Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, Travis Frederick, offensive line

Due to growing concerns about Tyron Smith's availability and future health, due to reoccurring back injuries, there seems to be a growing consensus among Dallas Cowboys fans that there's a need to draft an offensive lineman with the first-round pick. But, is it actually a need, or would it be more of a luxury?

There is legitimate concern about Tyron Smith and his future health.

Back injuries have a way of flaring up at the most inopportune times. It's also not an injury that's going away anytime soon, if ever. This is the unknown the Cowboys are faced with heading into the off-season, and it could end up having a major impact on the direction they go in the 2018 NFL Draft.

There seems to be a growing consensus around Cowboys Nation that the Dallas Cowboys should seriously consider selecting the best available offensive tackle with the 19th overall pick.

There are probably two reasons for this:

  1. Tyron Smith's health concerns, and
  2. the need to upgrade the swing tackle position after watching Byron Bell and Chaz Green play in 2017.

But, the question remains: is drafting yet another offensive lineman in the first-round a luxury or need for the Dallas Cowboys?

Personally, I can see both sides of this argument. So, let's break it down a little and examine each.

Luxury

Zack Martin

Dallas Cowboys RG Zack Martin

The Dallas Cowboys have already invested an enormous amount of resources to build arguably the best offensive line in the NFL.

They've spent three first-round draft picks to acquire Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin, two of which have already received long-term extensions with Martin waiting in the wings.

That's a lot of money devoted to one position, which ultimately means the Cowboys have to go cheaper in other areas in order to fit under the salary cap. This is the money that would be used in free agency to acquire some of those higher-priced free agents fans are always hankering for.

It also can be used to re-sign some of the Cowboys players at other positions, such as DeMarcus Lawrence.

But, it's not only the money that makes drafting a first-round OL a luxury.

Four out of five of the Cowboys OL are already pretty much set in stone. The left guard position is really the only unoccupied position right now, but that could be filled rather easily. This, of course, is assuming Tyron Smith stays healthy, but regardless, he is the starting left tackle when the 2018 season begins.

Need

Byron Bell

Dallas Cowboys OL Byron Bell

There's no reason to believe Tyron Smith will be able to play an entire 16-game season going forward. The last two seasons he has had to sit out several games due to injuries, and unfortunately his back issues aren't going away anytime soon.

To make matters worse, Dallas doesn't have an adequate backup, which was proven on more than one occasion in 2017. Hence the need.

With the exception of the quarterback, the left tackle position is arguably the most important on offense. They protect the QB's blindside and are largely responsible for keeping him healthy and upright.

There's a reason they are drafted so highly and paid so handsomely: they are that important to a team's success.

There was also a reason the Dallas Cowboys offense started to sputter once Tyron Smith started missing time. Opposing defenses no longer respected the Cowboys LT, and started putting their best pass rusher on that side to get after Dak Prescott.

Prescott ended up having happy feet and it had a ripple effect throughout the entire offense, and not in a good way.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Quite honestly, I think it would be a luxury to draft any kind of offensive lineman with the Cowboys' first-round selection, but I wouldn't be completely surprised if that's the direction they went. There are positives and negatives to both sides of the argument.

But, if they stick to the draft board and an OL is their highest rated player there, I say go for it.

The only thing we can do is have faith that the Dallas Cowboys know more about Tyron Smith's health and his availability to play then we do as fans. If they decide to draft an offensive lineman early, I think we should all take that as an indication that they are worried about Smith, at least a little bit.

Luxury or Need: Do the Cowboys draft a first-round OL?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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35 Comments

35 Comments

  1. John McClain

    January 15, 2018 at 11:49 am

    I believe if Vita Vea is their he would be the best pick the Cowboys can get otherwise a linebacker or wide receiver plus the Cowboys need to cut Dez.

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      January 15, 2018 at 12:00 pm

      I think that would be a great pick for the Cowboys. At LB keep an eye on Tremaine Edmonds out of Virginia Tech. I think he’s going to climb up draft boards and could be in play for the Cowboys at 19.

      • EverybodyTalks

        January 15, 2018 at 9:36 pm

        I have been fired up about Roquan, but Tremaine is right up there also. He is likely there at 19. Maybe his brother, Terrell, becomes our Safety. The Smiths brothers and the Edmunds brothers on the same team…hmmm.

        • Brian Martin

          Brian Martin

          January 16, 2018 at 9:49 am

          That would definitely make things interesting.

        • jglousa210

          January 16, 2018 at 10:24 am

          Jaylon is trash and was a wasted pick. We need a true middle lb and secondary studs.

          • EverybodyTalks

            January 16, 2018 at 11:24 am

            Haters gonna hate. I, for one, think he was a great pick. If Jaylon can impress Sean Lee, then that’s good enough for me.

          • Brian Martin

            Brian Martin

            April 25, 2018 at 9:29 pm

        • Brian Martin

          Brian Martin

          April 25, 2018 at 9:29 pm

      • Brian Martin

        Brian Martin

        April 25, 2018 at 9:29 pm

    • jglousa210

      January 16, 2018 at 10:25 am

      We’re not cutting dez after we just paid him lol. Do you not know how contracts work? And a WR? Lmfao we need defense. Not more wrs when we already have a bunch.

      • John Mcclain

        January 16, 2018 at 9:38 pm

        210 I would actually bet money if I knew you that we will cut Dez. He’s not earning his money and if you actually read about his contract the Cowboys can save 8 million dollars on this years cap by making him a post June cut

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      April 25, 2018 at 9:29 pm

  2. Quavion Harris

    January 15, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    Derwin James is what we are missing can someone please get his name in the discussion please

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      January 15, 2018 at 12:38 pm

      I’m sure he’s in the discussion, but I doubt he still on the board when the Cowboys are on the clock at 19.

      • Quavion Harris

        January 15, 2018 at 12:58 pm

        Yah I’m sure he’ll be gone by then but he is the kind of player to trade up for.

        • Brian Martin

          Brian Martin

          January 15, 2018 at 1:29 pm

          I’m not a fan of trading up in most cases. It rarely works out.

          • Quavion Harris

            January 15, 2018 at 1:41 pm

            Come on now I’m sure you’ve seen him play he is the chess piece we’re missing

          • Brian Martin

            Brian Martin

            January 15, 2018 at 2:06 pm

            He’s a good player, but still pretty raw. I don’t know how much his addition would upgrade the Cowboys defense. I think the Cowboys would have a hard time passing him up if he’s there though.

  3. Randy Martin

    January 15, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    The reality is both Guard and Tackle are positions of need but are they a big enough need that we have to take one at 19? Most agree that some of losses we had during the season were because we couldn’t adequately replace the injured Smith. As you said that is going to be an ongoing health concern and you only have 3 options: 1) expect that someone currently on the roster will improve enough to fill in; 2) find someone via free agency; or 3) draft one. In the first round you have a few players to consider. At guard, some say is the safest pick in the entire draft is Quenton Nelson. He will be off the board at 19 so he is out of the discussion. Tackles are always a need in the NFL because of their importance to protect the QB and the fact that CFB doesn’t supply enough good ones. There are two or three first round prospects in Connor Williams, Mike McGlinchey and maybe Orlando Brown, though he is still a bit of a project. The first two may or may not be on the board at 19 but I’m thinking they are gone so it might be a moot discussion. However, despite what we have tied up in money on the line that shouldn’t be a concern because we are talking about 4+1 years down the road and who knows what the health of our existing nucleus will be. It’s a position we always need to replenish. All of that being said, outside of Brown, if one of the other three were on the board it wouldn’t bother me if they took one of them but I’d prefer they look in a subsequent round and focus on either LB or WR with that pick.

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      January 15, 2018 at 4:26 pm

      There’s another name to consider in that LT group you mentioned… Jamarco Jones, Ohio State. I actually like him better than Orlando Brown. But, everything you said is true. I just think the Cowboys need to stick to the draft board regardless of position for the most part.

      • Randy Martin

        January 16, 2018 at 2:58 am

        Yeah Jones is a consideration but not in play at 19 which is within the context of your write-up. I like Jones but maybe in the 2-3 range.

        • Brian Martin

          Brian Martin

          January 16, 2018 at 9:50 am

          I think he’s going to start rising up draft boards once we get further into the process. I don’t know if he’s a consideration at 19, but he could be a trade back option.

  4. TexasX

    January 15, 2018 at 5:04 pm

    An O-lineman is a dire need. Tyron Smith’s back and leg ailments are related. They have not been fixed. What you saw in 2017 is what you will see in 2018. The offense depends on the line dominating. Dallas could trade for a second first round selection if there is a special wide receiver available. Try to shore up the defensive line in the second round.

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      January 15, 2018 at 6:09 pm

      I think it’s definitely a concern, but I don’t know if using their first-round draft pick on another OL is wise considering all of the resources/money already invested in that area.

  5. EverybodyTalks

    January 15, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    Trying to decide if Swing Tackle is more important then Guard…not sure? Both Smith and Collins have had injuries, so there is that. I would like to see them go DL or OL in the first round. Agree on Vita Vea – total disruptor…total freak!

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      January 15, 2018 at 6:10 pm

      I think if they take another tackle early in the draft, then they probably are considering moving La’el Collins back inside to LG. At least, that’s what I would look into.

      • EverybodyTalks

        January 15, 2018 at 9:47 pm

        OT seems a bigger priority to me, not as a starter, but as a swing. I think Cooper can be resigned. I’m just curious if Jonathon found his old self, as a 1st rounder, or if the Line makes him better? I also question if Collins is a better guard or a better tackle? He is a damn good athlete. With 10 picks in the upcoming draftI l can see a Jonathon Jones in the 3rd or 4th. Sean Welsh is classified as a center, but has played guard. Looney says he wants to start for someone. Lots of questions, but to me, the O-line is why Dak is good, why the WRs get open and why Zeke has holes to run through. OL is a need.

        • Brian Martin

          Brian Martin

          January 16, 2018 at 9:51 am

          I can’t argue with anything you said. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

  6. Tyler Cardon

    January 15, 2018 at 9:19 pm

    I like the idea of the cowboys filling their draft board with Gaurd, Tackle, D-Tackle, DB and WR for the first 2 rounds and whoever falls our way we take. The team has room for each of those positions to be a day 1 upgrade in 2018, and a long term need extending past 2018. And, I think any one of those spots could also “get by” with a mid round pick (since we have extras coming our way with comp picks this year). We’re In a good spot with the ability to re-sign guys in those positions if needed. Or, let guys go and bring in starters in the first two rounds…

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      January 16, 2018 at 9:52 am

      Tyler, you’re exactly right. This will be an interesting draft.

  7. Russ_Te

    January 15, 2018 at 10:15 pm

    I also think it’s best-available, and hopefully an impact OT, WR, RDE or LB will fall to 19. It may not be likely the Cowboys will move up in the 1st, but probably is that they deal some of the compensatory picks to move up in later rounds.

    They always find talented project picks, which is a great way to get impact guys down the draft if they hit. Most will bust, but a hit at one of those spots this year will go a long way.

    Remember that Garrett did not post winning seasons until Dallas invested in the OL and paired it with a talented RB. Not Romo, Parcells, T.O. – nothing got this team to contention before that. It has to be religion – you don’t win if you don’t win in the trenches. So OT / Swing OL has to receive attention this year. Don’t wait until it is depleted again.

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      January 16, 2018 at 9:54 am

      The Cowboys should have plenty of options at 19. I think they could go any direction there with the exception of maybe QB and RB.

  8. jglousa210

    January 16, 2018 at 10:21 am

    Defense wins championships, until the cowboys realize that were gonna suck forever. All this wasted money on offense when the defense still gives up 30 points a game. If a defense does its job our offense only has to score 2 to 3 times to win a game instead of 5 to 7 scores to win because our defense shits the bed every Sunday.

    • Tyler Cardon

      January 17, 2018 at 6:11 pm

      7 of our 9 picks last year were defense.. including 1st, 2nd and 3rd round. They get it, defense is important. Ya know what else is important? Keeping the defense off the field. That’s why online and sustained drives helps the defense as much or more than adding a player to the defensive unit. I agree we need to help out the defense, but I’m not convinced that adding a player to the roster is the only way to do that

  9. Andre Hickman

    January 16, 2018 at 11:46 am

    it is definitely a luxury. what the Cowboys need to be drafted as a linebacker and then worry about taking the best player left on the board.

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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Target: Kentucky CB Lonnie Johnson Jr.

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Draft Target: Kentucky CB Lonnie Johnson Jr.

Since Kris Richard has taken over the back-end of the Dallas Cowboys defense, they have clearly shown a bias towards a "type" of cornerback. Richard, looking to build this Dallas unit in a similar form to his Seattle teams, has prioritized long corners both in height and arm length.

As his responsibilities within the organization increase, it's only fair to expect Kris Richard to have more say in who the Cowboys' defense acquires in terms of talent. This means we should anticipate more defensive backs who fit his type, such as Kentucky Wildcats cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr.

The Player

So why does Lonnie Johnson fit the mold of what Kris Richard tends to look for? Well, for starters, he is 6'3" and 206 lbs with 32 1/4" arms. He's a long corner with excellent size and the trait profile which indicates he could be the perfect candidate to play cornerback in Dallas.

But while he might look great on paper, the tape is always the most important factor for evaluating and projecting talent. And, for Johnson, the tape isn't all-that great. Despite his length, Johnson struggled mightily in press-man coverage at Kentucky. Too often he is late or ineffective with his hands, leaving him susceptible to being blown by by the opposing receiver. He often loses balance due to poor footwork, and is rather average with his hips and quick change of direction.

Where Johnson was his best in college was in zone coverage, playing his deep third of Kentucky's cover-three look. Rarely did he allow receivers behind him in zone coverage, and displayed good instincts when deciding whether to jump routes or play more conservatively when playing in that deep third. He was not nearly as comfortable underneath, and Kentucky didn't ask him to play in that role too often. Because of how big he is, Johnson is able to contest at the catch point regularly, yet he only deflected 9 passes in 2 years.

What gives me the most hope for Lonnie Johnson as a prospect (besides his length) is his Senior Bowl performance. Johnson impressed daily at the Senior Bowl, looking more comfortable in man coverage and playing much better in his press technique.

Was this Johnson becoming more comfortable over time and a sign of things to come at the next level, or was it an anomaly that we shouldn't read too much into? The answer to that question is up to the individual teams, but his combine performance will play a huge role in how those teams answer.

The Fit

As I've discussed already, Lonnie Johnson Jr. fits what Kris Richard tends to look for in his cornerbacks. He is long, tall, and relatively athletic, making him a clay piece for a coach like Richard to develop.

The question is, however, how much development can really occur? The highs for Johnson are rather high when he maximizes his natural abilities on the field. But too often he is sloppy in technique, or looks lost in man coverage. Whether or not Richard can "fix" Johnson completely may never be seen, but teams (especially this one) could fall in love with him as a prospect for what he can become if it all comes together.



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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Target: Oklahoma Sooners RB Rodney Anderson

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Draft Target: Oklahoma Sooners RB Rodney Anderson

NAME: Rodney Anderson

SCHOOL: Oklahoma

CONFERENCE: Big 12

POSITION: Running Back

CLASS: RS Junior

JERSEY: No. 24

RECRUITMENT RATING: 4-star

HT: 6'1"

WT: 219

D.O.B.: 9/12/96

Highlights:

Rodney Anderson || 2017-18 Highlights ᴴᴰ || Oklahoma

Rodney Anderson || 2017-18 Highlights ᴴᴰ || Oklahoma Like, Comment, and Subscribe for More! Follow my Instagram: @szhighlights Songs: - "Don't Know Me" by Trae Tha Truth - "Better Days" by Trae Tha Truth I do not own any of these highlights or music clips.

Before we get into the player, we should really try to get to know Rodney Anderson the person. He attended Katy High School in Katy, Texas, one of the powerhouse HS football programs in the state. He was a four-star recruit who received offers from Auburn, Baylor, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma. He originally committed to Texas A&M, but changed his mind and decided to go to Oklahoma instead. He had an up-and-down career on the football field at Oklahoma because of injuries, but did graduate with a degree in Arts and Sciences in May 2018 and is pursuing his Master's in Human Relations.

Pros:

Rodney Anderson has the ideal size and athleticism to become a featured back in the NFL. He shows good patience and vision on film to allow his offensive lineman to secure their blocks before sticking his foot in the ground and exploding through the hole. He runs behind his pads and shows good strength, loose hips, and balance to run through arm tackles. More than capable of picking up those "dirty yards" and is surprisingly slippery as a runner in the open field.

Anderson is capable of playing in a power scheme or a zone heavy scheme like the Dallas Cowboys deploy. He has been featured in a number of rushing concepts including gap/power, read action, and power sweeps. His talent also carries over to the passing game. He possesses soft hands and looks natural catching the ball both out of the backfield and down the field as a receiver. Solid in pass protection, but this is an area of his game where he can improve.

Cons:

The biggest negative about Rodney Anderson is his injury history at Oklahoma. He is basically a one-year wonder because of three separate season-ending injuries, but bad things happen in three so maybe that's behind him. Durability will be a question mark entering the NFL though.

His vision is sometimes questionable, especially on inside and outside zone reads. Has a tendency to to try to bounce runs to the outside too often or cut back too quickly. Shows good explosiveness, but only average burst through the hole. Seems to have adequate long speed on tape, but is 40 yard dash time will be heavily scrutinized if he's able to run at the NFL Scouting Combine.

In the passing game he needs to improve his route running and pass protection if he wants to be a three-down back in the NFL. The talent is there, just not the production and consistency. Will also have to prove he can be productive against stacked boxes at the next level since he rarely saw any in college due to Oklahoma's spread offense.

Cowboys Fit:

If the Dallas Cowboys are looking for a running back capable of being a featured back in the NFL, while also spelling Ezekiel Elliott from time to time, then Rodney Anderson is there guy. His combination of power, balance, explosiveness, and scheme diversity could come in handy as their RB2. Not only would he provide a good insurance policy if the unthinkable were to happen to Zeke, but he could take over if they decide not to give No. 21 a contract extension.

There is a lot to like about Rodney Anderson's game and his ability to contribute in the running and passing game, but he is not by any means a clean prospect. Despite his immense talent, his injury history and lack of consistency in college is bothersome. But, as a mid-round pick the reward far outweighs the risks. Paired with Elliott, the Cowboys could have a formidable one-two punch in their backfield and could pound opposing defenses into submission.



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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Target: South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Draft Target: South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel

Our search for a new pass catcher for the Cowboys in this years' draft class continues, this time with a wide receiver.

South Carolina's Deebo Samuel put himself on the map with a strong Sophomore season, but fell off a bit due to a severe leg injury early in 2017. After a strong 2018 campaign, and an impressive performance at the Senior Bowl, Samuel has played himself back into early Day Two draft discussions.

The Player

I don't know that anyone "won" Senior Bowl week more than Deebo Samuel did this January. Samuel, who had to deal with some poor quarterback play throughout his college career, didn't get much of a break in that department either at the Senior Bowl. But, he did show out every day at practice, and seemed to go viral on Twitter at least once a day.

During his actual collegiate season, Samuel finished with 882 yards and 11 touchdowns on 62 catches, solid production especially coming off an injury and playing in a limited offense. Initially in the NFL, Samuel is going to make his money in the slot. He's a shifty yet explosive receiver type than can quickly beat defenders with his speed. He's not the speedster than someone like Marquise Brown is, but he is explosive enough in his own right, especially in terms of short-area quickness.

Samuel isn't someone who will go up and grab the ball consistently, or even make up for inaccurate throws as often as some others might be able to. But he does have reliable hands, and his ability to get open quickly and create separation should give someone like Dak Prescott easy windows to find him in for completions.

What makes Deebo Samuel so fun for me to watch, though, is his ability after the catch. Despite his lack of size, Samuel is tough as nails, and rarely defers out of bounds or avoids contact. He's built well enough to withstand that contact as well, and when he gets free, he's hard to catch and bring down.

The Fit

Drafting Deebo Samuel 58th overall would be a heck of a haul for the Dallas Cowboys. In need of another playmaker in the passing game, the Cowboys could make immediate use of Samuel's talents in 2019, specifically as a slot receiver.

As has been mentioned ad nauseam, it seems unlikely that Cole Beasley will be returning to the team this season, which makes the need for a slot wide-out that much greater. Samuel has big play ability from the slot already, and has traits which project him to potentially work outside as well. If he tests well enough at the combine, reps on the outside could very well be in his future.

Samuel should be on every Cowboys fans' shortlist of draft targets in the second round this year.



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