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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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31 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.

    • 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

  • 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

Sean’s Scout: Florida DT Taven Bryan A Disruptive Target for Cowboys

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Florida DT Taven Bryan A Disruptive Target for Cowboys

By now you know that the Dallas Cowboys have not prioritized the defensive tackle position at the Draft in some time, a point made prominent with the amount of talent available at DT in this 2018 class.

Despite not being as high on him as most, Florida's Taven Bryan would fit what the Cowboys are doing defensively under Rod Marinelli very well. Bryan is a disruptive player at the 3T position, where the Cowboys currently have a decision to make on RFA David Irving.

Even if Irving and Maliek Collins are back in the fold for 2018, Taven Bryan would be a great addition to this front seven - thanks to his raw athleticism and motor.

Let's take a closer look at how Bryan fits the Cowboys' defense.

Bryan2 - Streamable

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"Bryan excels at not giving his man much of a blocking surface area – playing with good pad level and impressive bend for a DT."

This film clip and quote comes from my full scouting report on Florida's Taven Bryan at Slant Sports. Far from a finished product, Bryan shoots gaps and beats guards off of the line with ease. This is a player with rare traits at the 3T position, bending well while playing with enough strength throughout his entire frame.

"Using a smooth upper body paired with quick footwork and burst, Bryan is frequently shooting gaps to finish in the backfield."

When I watched Taven Bryan, I was reminded of current Cowboys DT Maliek Collins in 2016. As a rookie, Collins played the penetrating 3T spot with similar burst and power.

With the Cowboys now preferring Collins at the 1T position, Bryan could fill in on day one as an interior force with the upside to become one of the league's best match up weapons up front.

Bryan1 - Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

Unless a blocker across from Bryan works quickly into his frame, this is a player that is going to generate push and flow to the football with elite speed and balance.

"Taven Bryan allows his frame to be controlled too often, effectively getting washed out of any play where his blocker can squat against the speed rush and shoot their hands inside on Bryan."

Cowboys Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence proved that he is the "alpha" of this defensive line in 2017. Building this unit around Lawrence will yield positive results for the Cowboys, especially if they can find a long-term 3T to play alongside him.

One with as high of a ceiling as Taven Bryan becomes an intriguing option, especially considering the Cowboys' ability to play him in a rotation early in his career.

"Unleashing Taven Bryan as a gap-shooting 3T DT is the best way to see this prospect reach his ceiling..."

The Cowboys' 19th overall pick may be a bit rich for Taven Bryan, but this is a prospect to look for in the second round, where Dallas holds the 50th overall pick. A second round DT on my 2018 NFL Draft Board, Bryan should outplay his draft status regardless of the pick if put in the right situation to use traits that would greatly help the Dallas Cowboys.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Florida DT Taven Bryan A Disruptive Target for Cowboys" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!


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NFL Draft

2018 NFL Draft: How Early Should Cowboys Consider Tight End?

Sean Martin

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Looking on the Bright Side of an Ugly Dallas Cowboys Loss
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

With Tight End Jason Witten set to enter his 16th season for the Dallas Cowboys, it has become an annual offseason tradition to discuss the team's need for young talent at TE. In a down year for the entire Cowboys offense, Witten caught the fewest passes (63) he has since 2003 - his rookie year.

Since 2003, the Cowboys have drafted seven tight ends, most of which suffering the same fate in Dallas. Playing behind the future first-ballot Hall of Fame TE in Witten, the only players that have sustained any success behind him remain current tight ends James Hanna and Geoff Swaim.

Geoff Swaim

Dallas Cowboys TE Geoff Swaim

A sixth and seventh round pick respectively, Hanna and Swaim don't exactly excite anyone expecting the Cowboys to upgrade their passing game in 2018 and beyond for Quarterback Dak Prescott.

For all of the buzz about the Cowboys using their current 19th overall pick on a WR (a decision I would be against), where is the ideal spot in this draft to target a TE?

This year's draft class at TE is a top-heavy one, with some big time pass catchers available at the top of it. If the Cowboys are serious about adding a legitimate middle-of-the-field threat on offense, they could consider the likes of Dallas Goedert, Mike Gesicki, or Ian Thomas with the 50th overall pick in the second round.

Of course, Cowboys Nation continues to hold out hope for Rico Gathers to revolutionize the TE position in Dallas as their last pick in the 2016 draft, but the Baylor basketball convert has done little to prove he's motivated to rise up the depth chart anytime soon.

Doug Nussmeier is the Cowboys' third TE coach in as many seasons, joining the staff for 2018 with no previous experience in this coaching role specifically. Nussmeier does bring extensive experience alongside Cowboys OC Scott Linehan, as well as nine years as an OC himself with Fresno State, Washington, Alabama, Michigan, and Florida.

It is safe to say that Nussmeier understands the importance of the TE position for a QB, especially a young one like Prescott - who has inconsistently used Jason Witten as the "security blanket" he became known as under Tony Romo.

If recent draft history holds up, the Cowboys will wait until the later rounds to possibly address tight end. The impact a top player from this class could immediately have in Dallas needs to be considered though, making TE an intriguing draft need as early as the second or third rounds.

Tell us what you think about "2018 NFL Draft: How Early Should Cowboys Consider Tight End?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!


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NFL Draft

The 1 Player Cowboys Should Consider Trading Up For

Kevin Brady

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1

The Dallas Cowboys enter the 2018 NFL Draft needing help in multiple areas. Of course, they could use new blood on the interior of their defensive line, in their linebacker corps, and in their receiver room. Their most important need to fill in the first round, however, seems to be left guard.

If the Cowboys could find an immediate starter at left guard, a dominant player who can function as an effective run blocker and allow Dak Prescott to trust his left side once again, their offense would be back in business. We typically think of the Cowboys offense, and their line in particular, as a strength. But down the stretch in 2017 that simply wasn't the case.

As I've discussed before, there should be realistic options available with the 19th overall selection, particularly Georgia guard Isiah Wynn. There is one player in this NFL Draft class they should consider moving up for if the price is right, though.

That player is Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson.

Make no mistake, Quenton Nelson is the best prospect in the 2018 NFL Draft class. He is a massive, yet athletic interior offensive lineman who cemented himself as the best guard in college football during his senior season with the Fighting Irish.

Nelson plays with an edge that you love from offensive linemen, especially from those you will be asking to run block often. He doesn't just open holes, he embarrasses defensive tackles. He doesn't just smartly use body positioning and footwork, he finishes his blocks and snatches souls. Plus, he shows the athleticism and agility to get to the second level to seal off linebackers.

Quenton Nelson works well in pass protection as well. Often labeled a weakness in his game coming out of high school, Nelson has shown vast improvements in his footwork, awareness, and balance in his pass set while at Notre Dame. He would be a day one starter in Dallas, and would take the Cowboys' offensive line back to their 2014-2016 form.

But how realistic is it that the Cowboys would move up for Nelson?

Well, not very realistic at all. In fact, I'd say it's more likely the Cowboys move back to take Will Hernandez or Isaiah Wynn than it is they give away future assets in such a Day Two-rich draft. If, for some reason, Quenton Nelson falls to around the 12th overall pick however, there could be an opening for the Cowboys to come up and snag him.

I don't condone trading up often whatsoever, but Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson leads a very short list of players I'd move up for if I were the Cowboys. Trading up for a guard seems like flawed logic, but considering the importance and impact he would have for this team, Quenton Nelson is well worth it.


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