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:
- Tyron Smith’s health concerns, and
- 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.
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.
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.
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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.