The Cowboys currently hurt for a guard, and Jerry made sure they can’t get a new one on the free agent block. That leaves either the first or second round. Being an optimist, most of my mock drafts have them taking offensive line in two of the first three rounds. Being realistic, I would be shocked to see them take offensive line twice. Apparently, mid-round offensive line depth isn’t nearly as intriguing as a practice squad receiver. Then again, what do I know about football? Compared to an NFL staff I know absolutely nothing, but than again it was a rhetorical question designed to highlight overlooking key deficiencies in the middle rounds. You get the point. Back to prospects. Dallas Thomas is a durable, completely legitimate second round option at guard and is likely good enough to start on an average team. Obviously, the Cowboys are the epitome of an average team, so he should at least fill a hole. Granted, Thomas would compete with Nate Livings, so he wouldn’t need raw talent, skill, nor desire of any sort. Still, even with lack of typical prerequisites needed to take Livings’ job, Thomas has enough of all of those things that I think he could push Livings over. Unlike Jerry’s China collection, when Thomas plays “legitimate” football he finishes the season. When he plays “prospect” football, he injures himself some time into June. The fact that he had been extremely durable in his career prior to his depressing injury gives me hope that he will not become injury prone. Obviously the Cowboys’ medical staff will have to look that over. The injury might cause him to drop some, but I doubt he will have a Marcus Cannon style free fall. After all, 4-6 months still lets him enter training camp.
Charlie Campbell wrote that, at least on skill related areas, Thomas is sound to very good. He excels at both run and pass blocking, while also using proper technique. He does, however, seem to have a case of David Arkin disease. In other words, he is a solid technician but is light. He’s over 300 pounds, so he isn’t a shrimp, but it would be nice if he could gain another 10. The scouting report mentions his footwork, which is important to note for the next source.
Oddly, this report completely contradicts what Charlie Campbell had to say. While Campbell wrote of Thomas’ “quick feet”, NFL.com says that the Tennesee guard’s foot speed “is a bit lacking.” Both mention his lack of strength, the NFL source stating more specifically that the problem is in the lower body, and also delivers a slightly less positive impression of Thomas’ form. They mention “his tendency to lunge in a three point stance”, but with the new coaching positions I think that would get sorted out. Notably, both sources laud his agility.
I think overall, he would certainly be a fit, though maybe not at a Chance Warmack-like level. Thomas should make a fully capable guard, but he comes from a quicker breed of guard. Actually, he started out at tackle and his short arms means he has to be moved, but he would play a quick tackle. Anyway, should he bulk up I think he would do well on the squad, but he would need to be drafted in conjunction with someone else to make the impact on the offensive line fully felt.Last year’s signing of Nate Livings complicates things in the War Room. If the Cowboys go the one-and-done route, here is their offensive line:
LT LG C RG RT
I don’t love the line by any stretch, but forcing Makenzie Bernadeau out should at least contain the damage. Free will be the bigger issue. Since he has proven incapable of manning an NFL tackle spot two years in a row, he really should be moved to guard, so the team can at least salvage any leftover value. If a tackle isn’t added, that would create a two way battle between two overpaid players at right guard with a giant hole at right tackle. Basically, if the Cowboys are serious about fixing their offensive line through the draft (their cap situation suggests that they are), than if they draft a guard they also need a tackle. It has to be a two for one gig, otherwise they Cowboys will have a bottom tier right-side offensive line*. Where do you think Jason Pierre-Paul would line up all game long?
*Note: I’m operating under the assumption that they Cowboys would put the better guard on the left side. Some other teams may do it differently, but Nate Livings was the more heralded, talented signing and started on the left side. That tells me the Cowboys administration values the left side over the right. Since I consider Thomas to be the superior player, I just automatically sent him over left. Also, he is a better pass blocker, so his skill set matches up better there too. The balance issue could be fixed by drafting a right tackle, but that still leaves a right tackle hole, since I have lost all confidence Free can effectively play there. Either way, a serious offensive line upgrade requires the Cowboys to cut either Free or Livings while adding a right tackle through the draft. Even though I just thrashed him throughout my article, in this scenario I put money on Livings. If the Cowboys don’t care, the choice is much easier-choose the best player available at guard and damn right tackle.