Lately when I've read about the Cowboys' projections for drafting an o-lineman, the players are normally interior players or perhaps a RT prospect. To me, that is overlooking a our most pressing need, which might not be slapping us in the face at the moment, but could be dooming our franchise in the near future.
The Cowboys have collected an impressive array of talent at the skill positions: three legit backs, two talented tight ends, and a strong group of WRs surrounding a young QB that has been breaking team passing records. This group screams for a good if not great o-line to allow it to flourish. I was glad to see o-line at the top of the list for the draft, as I think that's the only thing separating this offense from being the best in the league.
However, to me, the biggest need along the o-line is a young left tackle to replace Flozell. Flozell has been engimatic. He's had great years and off ones. He seems like the poster boy of the mental errors and inconsistencies that have plagued the Cowboys. Plus he'll be 34 when the season rolls around coming off a bad year in 2008. Maybe he gives us another 2-3 up and down years, maybe he'll scream to be replaced in 2009.
What do we have to replace him? Doug Free is the only option at this point, a player I liked coming out of college, but has scarcely been seen in two years. If Free was a talent worthy of the LT position, I can't imagine he wouldn't have replaced McQuistan as the swing tackle or even been considered as the LG replacement when Kosier was out. Flozell played guard before he was moved to tackle. While not much has been said about Free, the actions of the Cowboys staff makes me think he's not showing much.
Since most tackles take a year or two to develop, now seems the time to get one before a major hole opens up on the line. The added bonus would be that a good tackle prospect should be able to fill in as a guard if Flozell bounces back with another 2-3 good years. A guy like William Beatty out of Connecticut looks like a great fit (although we'd probably have to move up several spots to get him). He's a great athlete at 6'6" with quick feet, but needs to add some strength. I assume Connecticut's training regimen pales in comparison to the Cowboy's, so I think a year behind Flozell would give him the extra 10-15 lbs of muscle he'd need.
Troy Kropog also looks intriguing, and could probably be had at our spot in the 2nd, if not the 3rd.
While I agree with the needs at FS and NT, a LT is one of the most important positions on the team, and I think we're very close to needing a new one. Outside of the top 15 of the draft, its really hard to find one on short notice. Of the five starters, Flozell is the oldest and performed the worst last year.