Dallas Cowboys: Meet Chandler Zavala, G, NC State

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports /

Talking about the interior offensive line needs for the Dallas Cowboys isn’t the sexiest subject in the world. However, it’s probably the most important position for the team and quarterbacks in general.

Quarterbacks need protection from that up-the-middle penetration. It’ll do Dak Prescott’s heart well to know the Cowboys are investing in the big men up front.

If Dallas is going to successfully transition Tyler Smith to the left tackle position, they need to find a replacement at the left guard spot. At the very least, they need to add some depth at the position with one of their draft picks in the coming weeks.

The Dallas Cowboys need to beef up their offensive line and Chandler Zavala could serve in multiple capacities.

A pretty good option would be Chandler Zavala from North Carolina State. Unlike O’Cyrus Torrence, this is a true left guard. There’s two ways that can be looked at – not much offered from a position flex standpoint but he knows the role.

At 6’5″ 325 pounds, he played his first two years of his career at Fairmont State University. It was unfair what he was doing to the lesser competition. He should have been named “pancake” because he was impolitely placing all 325 pounds of his mass on defenders on a consistent basis.

The football gods decided the Mountain East Conference had taken enough punishment from Zavala. He decided to transfer to play against tougher competition and held his own to say the least.

Playing at NC State, he had the opportunity to play the likes Clemson, Florida State and Wake Forest. All three have potential NFL players on their teams. According to PFF, he gave up 0 sacks, 1 hit and 3 hurries with a 76.0 overall grade. Not perfect but it’ll get the job done.

He has adequate power with good movement skills. He plays the position like a mauler which would be a nice addition next to another mauler in his own right (Tyler Smith). He is not the athlete that Tyler is by any means.

The Dallas Cowboys have a penchant for waiting for prospects in later rounds in the hopes of developing them over their rookie deal. Both Connor Williams and Connor McGovern come to mind. This prospect could be drafted with the same plan.

As talented as this prospect is, he is still raw as he has not played a lot of high-level football. His 2020 season was cancelled due to COVID. A back surgery cut his 2021 season short. That’s the big one. Granted he came back for an additional season in 2022 to show that clean bill of health, doctors will still poke and prod to make sure he is worth the investment of any type of pick.

This should play right into the Dallas Cowboys hand. Other prospects that aren’t as talented as he may jump ahead of him because of the back scare. Dallas loves to grab talent with lower draft picks that may have a blemish or two.

Coach Solari should have some fun working with a talent like this. He’s not too overweight where he needs to be confined to a box space. He’s proven that he has the movement skills to get to the second level. Linebackers beware.

NFL draft projection: I think the lack of good interior linemen will push him up to the 5th round. Draftcountdown.com has him going in the seventh round to the Green Bay Packers. While I think he will go higher, I understand the hesitation.