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NFL Draft

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
  • John McClain

    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

      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

        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

          That would definitely make things interesting.

        • jglousa210

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

          • EverybodyTalks

            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
      • Brian Martin
    • jglousa210

      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

        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
  • Quavion Harris

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

    • Brian Martin

      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

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

        • Brian Martin

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

          • Quavion Harris

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

          • Brian Martin

            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.

  • Randy Martin

    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

      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

        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

          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.

  • TexasX

    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

      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.

  • EverybodyTalks

    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

      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

        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

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

  • Tyler Cardon

    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

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

  • Russ_Te

    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

      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.

  • jglousa210

    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

      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

  • Andre Hickman

    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.

NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Class: How Many Will Be Starters In 2018?

Kevin Brady

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2018 NFL Combine: 3 LBs Who Impressed
Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys have been showered with praise by most national NFL media outlets for their 2018 NFL Draft class. NFL.com graded the Cowboys as having the 2nd best class in the league, and most other analysts have agreed that the team had a strong showing.

But now, of course, it's time to see what these new players will actually do on the field. Some are hoping the team found 3-5 new starters for the 2018 roster, but history would suggest that is pretty rare.

Dallas' 2016 draft class has been lauded as one of the best in the last decade, especially considering they look to have found their franchise quarterback in round four. That strong class only features four full-time starters heading into 2018, but we have to wonder if that's the outlier and not the norm.

Still, as we look back and examine this 2018 draft class it really appears they have found three day one starters in the first three rounds.

First round pick Leighton Vander Esch is expected to be the starting MIKE linebacker this season, with former second round selection Jaylon Smith moving to SAM. Vander Esch wasn't my favorite option at 19, but he is certainly starter-worthy in this Cowboys LB corps.

On day two the Cowboys added OL Connor Williams and WR Michael Gallup, two of my personal favorite picks of their entire class. Williams should be the starting LG week 1 of the season, and Michael Gallup may overtake Allen Hurns as the most productive WR on the roster by year's end.

Cowboys Land Small School WR In Latest PFF Mock Draft

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 1: DUPLICATE***Colorado State Rams wide receiver Michael Gallup (4) picks up a few yards after catch as Colorado Buffaloes defensive back Isaiah Oliver (26) comes in for the tackle during the first quarter on September 1, 2017 in Denver, Colorado at Sports Authority Field. (Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post)

What about the rest of the class?

Dorance Armstrong will probably have too much competition to start at defensive end this season, but he should be an interesting rotational pass rusher. TE Dalton Schultz has the chance to surprise some people, but overtaking Geoff Swaim as the "starter" would be unexpected.

After that, the player with the best chance to make the team and contribute early on might be Boise State WR Cedrick Wilson. Wilson was a late day-two, early day-three pick to me so snagging him in the sixth round should provide incredible value to this roster. That wide out room is getting very crowded, though, so Wilson has his work cut out for him heading into camp.

How many of the Cowboys' 2018 draft picks will be starters in 2018? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.


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NFL Draft

Did the Dallas Cowboys Find 4 Starters in the 2018 NFL Draft?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Did the Dallas Cowboys Find 4 Starters in the 2018 NFL Draft?

One of the many winners of the 2018 NFL Draft were, without a doubt, the Dallas Cowboys. Not only did they addressed some of the team's most pressing needs, but they managed to draft very talented, capable players beyond the first round.

Cowboys Nation had to feel better about the rookie class the front office walked away with, specially after the second day of the Draft. Just like last year, they managed to find steals in the second and third rounds. In 2017, they did so with Cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis. Now, they stayed put at their original picks and walked away with OL Connor Williams and WR Michael Gallup.

But first things first. In the eyes of many, Leighton Vander Esch wasn't worth the 19th overall pick. While I do agree that Vander Esch was a questionable selection, the Cowboys fixed arguably their most concerning position of all. As much as it pains to admit it, Sean Lee has yet to play an entire NFL season and Jaylon Smith was pretty much the only other capable starter on the roster.

Cowboys en Español: Dallas Selecciona a Vander Esch, ¿Quién Sigue?

Although Vander Esch needs to develop a ton before reaching his full potential. he's a week 1 starter and an early contributor for this defense. Whether it felt like a "reach" or not, the Cowboys took a starter in the Boise State linebacker.

Later, the Cowboys managed to add an arguably first-round talent with pick #50 to plug-and-play along the offensive line. Texas OL Connor Williams was also seen as a tackle prospect, but he'll likely start at guard for Dallas as a rookie.

Since Ron Leary left for Denver, the left guard spot hasn't been as stable. Jonathan Cooper did a decent job filling that spot, but with Williams taking his place, the Cowboys dominance in the trenches will finally return. Playing next to All-Pros Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick, Connor Williams might become the best rookie in this class for the Cowboys.

One can't simply say the team found a "replacement" for Dez Bryant since he's a special player and with a very specific skill set, but Michael Gallup from Colorado State has the potential to become the team's WR1 pretty soon.

In the team's effort to build a Dak-friendly offense, Gallup is a crafty and smooth route-runner who has what it takes to play in any spot of the offense. His skill-set will allow him to play anywhere on the field and become Dak's favorite target in a year in which Jason Witten and Dez Bryant will no longer be lining up on his squad.

Taken in the first three rounds, Vander Esch, Williams and Gallup will be unquestionable starters. The question, however, is who else could become a starter for the Cowboys? Who could line up and start in week 1?

Dallas Cowboys Add Depth on Day 3, Building Future with Young Starters 1

Even though it definitely isn't as certain as the other three rookies, I'm betting on Dalton Schultz to be a more important starter than we imagine. Listen, maybe it's not an ideal scenario to have the TE from Stanford start in week 1, but it could be necessary.

The Rico Gathers Adventure might just be over before it starts and Geoff Swaim and Blake Jarwin may not be anything special. In college, Schultz was pretty good at run blocking. In the Cowboys' offense, led by one of the best running backs in the league, Ezekiel Elliott, Schultz may be able to find success earlier than expected.

Besides, he has what it takes to catch passes in the NFL and although he certainly won't be the flashiest, he could be enough to give Dak Prescott a reliable tight end.

Dalton Schultz could be the surprise of this Draft for Dallas. He'll probably become a starter at some point in the season and for a fourth-round pick, that's a very good thing to say.

For a front office that's constantly bashed by Cowboys Nation, their job at this year's NFL Draft was a pretty good one. Now it's just a matter of time to find out which picks were as good as we originally thought.

Tell me what you think about "Did the Dallas Cowboys Find 4 Starters in the 2018 NFL Draft?" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!


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NFL Draft

Why Cowboys Nation Should Feel Better About Leighton Vander Esch

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Why Cowboys Nation Should Feel Better About Leighton Vander Esch
Loren Orr / Getty Images

A week ago, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell walked out to the stage at AT&T Stadium to announce the Dallas Cowboys first pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. For the second consecutive year, a large portion of Cowboys Nation was not pretty happy about the player America's Team had drafted in the first day of the Draft.

Boise State's Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch has become one of the main debates among Cowboys fans right now and will continue to be one at least until the season starts. Some are fine with the decision the front office made and some simply don't view Vander Esch as a first round talent.

Naturally, taking Leighton in the first round has been widely compared to the team's last first round pick: Taco Charlton.

Both of these selections resulted in fans all around the world complaining and criticizing the selections since they both seemed like a reach, arguing that they could've gotten better players at other positions.

But fans shouldn't be so quick to compare the Charlton and Vander Esch selections, because they really aren't that similar. Sure, most of the media and Draft fans didn't consider any of these players worthy of a first round pick, but that doesn't mean both players were ranked similarly in the Cowboys' draft board.

Defensive End Taco Charlton, despite showing some very promising flashes towards the end of the year, wasn't able to become a starter at any point during his rookie season. Hopefully he develops into one next season. But when you're talking about first-round picks, being a solid starter at the end of the season at the latest is a very usual expectation.

Possibly what made the Taco pick hurt even more, is the fact that the front office didn't even consider him a first-round talent. Although he was drafted to wear the Star with the 28th overall pick, he wasn't their guy.

Drew Davison on Twitter

The #Cowboys had three first-round grades on DEs, but Taco Charlton wasn't one of them.

With Leighton Vander Esch, the same can't be said. The Cowboys knew he was their guy and that they were going to take him, regardless of the situation. For many weeks we wondered about just every scenario the team might face when they were on the clock.

What if DE Harold Landry is available? What if Calvin Ridley is still on the board? What if Derwin James slides, would they trade up?

For the front office, there was quite a lot of talent to choose from at 19 (not to mention James did slide out of the top 15), but they still took Leighton Vander Esch, even with Landry and Ridley on the board. We might disagree with the pick. We might not think the Boise State's product should've been taken so early. That's completely fine.

But Cowboys Nation should be happy knowing that this was the guy they wanted all along. Maybe if Derwin James hadn't been drafted by the Los Angeles Chargers with the 17th pick, Dallas would have still taken Vander Esch.

 "If the Cowboys traded up a few spots in the first round, I believe it would have been to ensure they got Vander Esch, not get James or Edmunds." Dane Brugler on the Cowboys' approach to the Draft. 

For now, it's time to root for the Dallas Cowboys' new rookie. Vander Esch will provide a special factor to this defense and has the potential to become a very good starter down the road. Playing side by side with Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith will certainly help his development and turn him into an impact player soon.

At the end of the day, it takes years to properly evaluate how a draft pick turned out in the NFL. There are first round players who turn out to be complete busts just like there are sixth or seventh round players that go on to become superstars in the league.

The Dallas Cowboys did a hell of a job addressing their needs throughout the Draft this year and there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about this year's draft picks. Leighton Vander Esch is without a doubt, one of them.

Tell me what you think about "Why Cowboys Nation Should Feel Better About Leighton Vander Esch" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!


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