It’s been quite a long time since the Cowboys draft strategy felt this unpredictable.
Under Jason Garrett’s leadership, certain positions and physical thresholds had been targeted in particular rounds. Of course, things changed a bit year to year based on need, but you basically new what Garrett and company were looking for in their draft class.
Now, with Garrett gone and Will McClay potentially having an even bigger say on who is drafted in early rounds, just about anything feels in play. And while offensive tackle doesn’t jump off the page as a position of need for the Cowboys heading into the 2020 season, it’s a sneaky area they do need to address.
Stephen Jones spoke to the media at the combine this week, and was asked specifically about how the Cowboys view their current tackle situation.
Dallas just extended right tackle La’el Collins, who emerged as a top tier right tackle immediately after inking that new deal. Collins figures to be a factor on the right side for the years to come, but some are beginning to wonder if we are entering the twilight years for left tackle Tyron Smith.
Smith hasn’t played a full 16 games since 2015, missing three games in each season after that. When he’s healthy and playing, Smith is still an incredible player. One of the best left tackles in all of football, in fact. Still, given his injury history at this point, drafting someone who can fill in for him at the drop of a hat seems important.
“I think you always need a swing tackle. That’s just important.”
Cameron Fleming has filled that role over the last couple of seasons, and has done a decent job when called upon. It doesn’t always look pretty with Fleming in terms of technique, but he’s gotten the job done in emergencies. Fleming is under contract for the 2020 season, but is set to be a free agent in 2021.
Stephen Jones added that while the Cowboys could target that swing tackle in this upcoming draft, they still feel comfortable with Tyron Smith’s health going forward.
“It’s not because of Tyron’s health…We feel good about his health. We feel good that he’ll be ready to roll again and have a great year again.”
I tend to agree with Jones that Tyron Smith is far from done in this league. He’s also on an incredibly team friendly deal given his talent level, so it’s not as if his injuries make him a bad contract on the Cowboys’ books.
Finding a young tackle who can fill in and excel in a pinch would obviously be great for the Cowboys, but most teams can’t even find two reliable starters at tackle.
Let alone a third on top of two Pro Bowlers.