Cowboys: Jordan Mills will help Darrion Weems


The Cowboys’ recent acquisition, Jordan Mills, not only helps the Cowboys, but he helps his primary competition, Darrion Weems too.

The Cowboys have been looking for offensive tackle depth ever since they lost swing tackle Jermey Parnell to Jacksonville in free agency. The swing tackle is typically a developmental position on most teams’ rosters. It is the primary (and in some cases – only) active backup offensive tackle, so it requires a player capable of playing both the right and the left tackle positions.

The right and left side are vastly different in technique, assignments, strengths, and weaknesses. It’s typically reserved for a player that lacks seasoning, but still has starting potential.  It is a very difficult position to adequately fill and usually involves a calculated gamble year to year.

The Cowboys were hoping their rookie 3rd round pick, Chaz Green, could be their man at the swing, but after having offseason hip surgery, Green will start the season on the PUP (physically unable to perform)list.

Then the Cowboys set their sights on third year pro, Darrion Weems, as the favorite to land the swing tackle role. Standing 6’5” 310 lbs. and possessing above-average athleticism, Weems has the potential to be a swing tackle, but much of that potential is still unrealized.

After Weems struggled during training camp and the preseason games with effort and technique, the Cowboys signed former Chicago Bears right tackle starter, Jordan Mills. The 24 year old Mill’s comes to Dallas with 29 games under his belt.

Jordan Mills has experience but he’s certainly not without warts. Mills has virtually no experience at left tackle. He played exclusively on the right side at Louisiana Tech as well as Chicago. Mills is slow on his feet and gives up far too much pressure to athletic pass-rushers.

Pro Football Focus (subscription required) graded him with only six positively scored games last year, ranking as the 66th offensive tackle in the league. In 2014 he gave up six sacks, six hits, and 31 hurries on the year. Comparatively, Doug Free only gave up three sacks, two hits, and 17 hurries.

Despite being cut in Chicago, this preseason was much better for Mills. Mills notched positive run-blocking grades and ranked as the preseason’s 41st OT. Not surprising to anyone who watched the Cowboys’ preseason games, but Weems ranked 129th on the list of 136.

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The notable difference between these two players is their skill set and their projected long-term roles. Darrion Weems has left tackle athletic ability and moderate strength, so theoretically he could play both tackle spots if needed. Jordan Mills has good strength with below average athletic ability, so he projects best as a right tackle but not at all as a left tackle.

Jordan Mills can help Darrion Weems’ future because Mills should allow Weems to focus primarily on one position (LT). Mills, a true RT, will likely serve as the swing tackle early in the season, but it shouldn’t surprise anyone to see Weems unseat him later.

Weems still appears to have the greater potential of the two, and if he can develop into something other than a complete liability (which he’s been this preseason), then he would be the better option at swing tackle in the future.

At the end of the day, this is another savvy move by the Cowboys’ front office. It doesn’t take an economist to know that competition makes everything thing better for the consumer, and competition is exactly what the Cowboys have in Weems and Mills.

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