After every NFL Draft we develop a fascination with the rookie class and try to envision roles for them on the team. Offensive Lineman Matt Farniok, the Cowboys' 7th-round pick in 2021, will have the toughest road to making it past final cuts. However, could his valuable versatility help the rookie make the 53-man roster?
Farniok was Dallas' last of 11 players drafted two weeks ago; the only 7th-round pick of the bunch. He just finished a four-year run at Nebraska where he was a two-time captain and an Honorable Mention on the 2020 All-Big Ten team.
While playing mostly right tackle from 2018-2019, Farniok moved inside as senior. In the pandemic-shortened 2020 season he started seven games at right guard and one at center.
Immediately following the draft I did a 53-man roster projection and did not have Farniok making the team. This wasn't so much a reflection on him but just the harsh reality of the numbers:
- STARTERS: Tyron Smith, La'el Collins, Zack Martin, Connor Williams, Tyler Biadasz
- BACKUPS: Ty Nsekhe, Josh Ball, Connor McGovern, Brandon Knight
Nine offensive linemen is generally enough; sometimes only eight actually dress and are active on gamedays. So unless that ninth or tenth lineman is so valuable that you don't want to risk him on the practice squad, keeping him on the 53 means risking a prospect at some other position.
Matt Farniok has the same opportunity as anyone to compete and earn a roster spot in the coming months. But he comes in with less experience than most and wasn't a mid-round pick like Josh Ball. On paper it's easy to see him as the odd man out.
However, Farniok's versatility is no minor attribute. The more Swiss Army knives you have on your depth charts then that's freedom to keep luxury players like a third QB or a pure special teamer like C.J. Goodwin.
To be fair, college versatility doesn't necessarily translate to the NFL. Farniok may have played a lot of tackle for Nebraska but just may not be qualified to do it in the pros. That's what the Cowboys coaches will be working to figure out in the coming months.
Recently-cut Cowboy Adam Redmond comes to mind when I think of Farniok. Redmond floated between the practice squad and official roster for three years and mostly because he could play center, but also because he had the size and background to play any position on the line.
We'll see how far versatility takes Matt Farniok as a rookie and in the coming years. He has a lot of competition to make Dallas' roster but he could potentially force his way on if he provides value and upside across the offensive line.