Dallas Cowboys Draft: Offensive tackle possible first round target

Mandatory Credit: Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports /

There’s no question the Dallas Cowboys need help on their offensive line this offseason. The Cowboys lost their left guard in free agency and cut long-time right tackle La’el Collins last month. They are down two-of-five starters and two of the remaining three aren’t exactly spring chickens anymore (Tyron Smith and Zack Martin are both 31-years-old).

With Terence Steele sliding into Collins’ role, the biggest hole on the Cowboys line appears to be at guard. And if there is an Option B, it’s at center where third-year player Tyler Biadasz has struggled to establish himself as a true fixture.

The mentality has been interior offensive line or bust and recent statements from Stephen and Jerry Jones have only strengthened that line of thought. But are we sleeping on offensive tackle? Is an offensive tackle someone the Joneses may actually prefer to take, and as such, someone fans should be prepared for?

The Dallas Cowboys may opt to draft an offensive tackle over guard, first in the draft

Positional value is big part of winning the NFL Draft. While the best player available approach is useful in theory, it’s not always the smart method of attack in today’s NFL. If the Dallas Cowboys drafted a kicker, tight end, and fullback with their first three picks, how happy would Cowboys Nation be with the team?

Not very. That’s why some positions are targeted early and some are targeted late. Offensive tackles are unquestionably the most valued position on the offensive line. Players need to be strong enough to open holes and agile enough to protect the edge. They need length, agility, and strength.

Interior offensive linemen don’t need to be so special. Weaknesses can be covered and consequences for failure usually aren’t as severe. It’s why offensive tackle is one of the most heavily drafted first round positions and interior offensive line is one of the most infrequently drafted first round positions.

This preference extends into the veteran ranks as well. Teams pay top offensive tackles considerably more than they pay their interior brethren. It’s because OTs are harder to find and therefore harder to replace.

That’s why the Dallas Cowboys may be looking for an OT with inside versatility with their first pick in the 2022 NFL Draft

As a way to maximize the value of the pick, the Dallas Cowboys may take a stab at an OT with questions. If an offensive tackle doesn’t possess all the traits and measurables that make him an obvious NFL tackle, they often slip in the draft.  Teams can’t afford to draft a tackle that can’t play tackle. Especially if they NEED a tackle.

The Dallas Cowboys happen to be a team that doesn’t need a tackle – at least not at the moment. They have a Pro Bowl talent in Tyron Smith on one side. And they have the ascending talent of Terence Steele on the other. The only problem is neither are a very sure thing. Tyron misses a lot of games and basically playing year-to-year. And Terence is still a below-average NFL OT who may or may not be the long-term answer on the right.

Drafting a player now who has starting offensive tackle ability may not be a terrible idea given the tenable status of the position group. And if that player also has the ability to play inside in the meantime, he can essentially kill two birds with one stone.

The way the draft boards are falling, it’s unlikely the Dallas Cowboys will see any of the top ranked OTs at Pick 24. Chances are only players with questions (like the questions we listed above) will fall to the back half of the first round. Dallas just happens to be a unique situation to deal with those questions.

The Dallas Cowboys can conceivably use both a tackle of a guard this offseason. They can take a swing on an offensive tackle with flaws. If everything works out he can be that high-value tackle teams like in the first round. If he fails at least he can be that interior lineman the Cowboys need.

Granted, all OTs can’t automatically play OG. But the learning curve to move inside isn’t a significant one and as we’ve seen in the past, it’s a transition that’s common for many college tackles entering the pros.

Prospects like Tyler Smith, and Sean Rhyan are a couple late-first (early second) round OT prospects with questions surrounding their ability to play outside. Then there’s Bernhard Raimann who appears tailor-made to play NFL OT, but could slip because of age. If he could play OG in Year 1 he may be ultimately the best pick for Dallas.

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Inside/outside versatility may be something the Dallas Cowboys are targeting this year given their unique situation across the line. It might be a way to get the most out of their pick and have to slum it in positional value.