Cowboys Draft: When to target Swing Tackle in the upcoming draft

LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 29: Offensive tackle Tyron Smith #77 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field on October 29, 2017 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 29: Offensive tackle Tyron Smith #77 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field on October 29, 2017 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

Last season, the Cowboys learned the hard way how important the swing tackle position is in this league. Based on draft boards, when is the best time to target it in the upcoming draft?

Arguably, no position hurt the Cowboys more in 2017 than their depth at offensive tackle. Starting left tackle, Tyron Smith, was either hobbled or out completely for the better part the season and those who played in his relief represented the biggest loss in talent since Hootie left the Blowfish.

Without a viable option behind Smith, quarterback Dak Prescott was left running for his life. With his head on a swivel, it’s no wonder why the second year passer regressed in the final eight games of the season. It’s also why the Cowboys will consider using a high draft pick to help alleviate the problem.

We looked at sleeper picks in the mid-to-late rounds last week. Today, we turn our attention to the swing tackles garnering a little more interest – and subsequently higher draft stock:

Swing Tackle

Because of limited roster sizes on game day, teams must make good use of limited resources. One of the solutions is to use one backup tackle to cover both the right and left side. Known as the “swing tackle”, this backup is usually a developing player with the potential to one day take over a starting role.

And that’s exactly what the Cowboys would be looking for this April in the draft.

Tyrell Crosby, OT, Oregon

Crosby is Day 2 pick with a third round grade. Standing 6’5” 325lbs, Crosby is a giant of a man. Known as a mauler, Crosby is one of the best run blocking tackles in the draft. His flexibility is questionable making his future likely to either be at right tackle or inside at guard.

It’s easy to see Crosby as the swing tackle early and eventually the replacement to La’el Collins at right tackle.

Martinas Rankin, OL, Mississippi State

Rankin is an offensive linemen, but beyond that, not much else can be agreed upon. Some say he’s not athletic enough to be a left tackle and others say he’s not strong enough to play right tackle. Still others say he’s a potential star at center.

It seems to me his biggest deficiency is strength making him a project player on the right and better suited on the left.  He’s smart and talented and most scouting is projecting him to go on Day 2 at some point.

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Brandon Parker, OT, North Carolina A&M

Parker is a personal favorite of mine that I think will be drafted higher than where many are projecting. At 6’7” 317lbs, he fits the physical bill at swing tackle and would be an upgrade to anything the Cowboys currently have (which isn’t really saying much).

He’s athletic enough to be starter in the NFL he just needs to improve his technique to overcome his length and vulnerability to the bull rush. I suspect the farthest he’ll slide in the draft is the top of fourth round so wouldn’t be shocked if he was picked in the third.

What’s too high?

If you plan to develop the player into one day being a starter, you can justify using a Day 2 pick on a swing tackle. But if you’re just looking for a career backup, a Day 2 pick would probably be a waste.

Chaz Green was a 3rd rounder. While he may be the human equivalent of a bag of sand, he was drafted to be a starter one day. Ideally the day Doug Free retired.  Again, that didn’t turn out as planned but the plan was true and the plan is worth pursuing again – provided the Cowboys can do a better evaluation of said player.

What say you? Do you think the Cowboys should use a Day 2 pick on a swing tackle or do you think they should roll the dice and wait until later to attack the position?

Next: Cowboys draft: Mid-to-late round sleepers at swing tackle

In a talent starved draft class, it’s unlikely any of these guys fall to them in the fourth. Would you be ok with that? Better question: how much do you trust Tyron Smith to stay healthy?