As a former offensive guard on the 1964 University of Arkansas national championship football team, along with currently being the Dallas Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones addressed the team's recent focus on drafting offensive linemen in the first round. In 2011, the Cowboys invested their first round draft pick in Tyron Smith, whom they envisioned as a future franchise left tackle and then two years later the team went back to the same well by selecting Travis Frederick with a first-round pick as well. The picks were a departure of sorts for the Jones-led Cowboys. They are the only two offensive linemen that the team has drafted in the first round during Jerry's tenure. In fact, prior to Smith, the last time the Cowboys selected an offensive lineman with it's first round pick was in 1981, when they selected tackle Howard Richards out of the University of Missouri. (How many of you remember Richards?)
"I gladly used those two. I don’t know that I’ve got confidence in using any more. This is an either-or proposition, and if you use your resources one place, you don’t have them to go another place." - Jerry Jones
Jones has plenty of justification for being pleased with the two selections he spent on linemen. Both picks are showing signs of paying off for the Cowboys. Smith started off with a solid debut season as the Dallas right tackle before moving to the left side during his second season in the league. Although he faced growing pains initially, Smith rebounded well, earning a trip to the Pro Bowl and second team All-Pro honors for his stellar third season in the league. Frederick was named as the All-Rookie center by the Pro Football Writers Association. Together the two are helping to bring back confidence in the Dallas offensive line.
Taking Jerry at his word, fans should most likely not expect to see a trend emerging, at least on the offensive side of the ball. With a pair of solid core pieces to build the offensive line around, Jones sees other positions as a more likely target for the team to spend its highest draft resources on. As he stated, first-round selections are an either/or proposition and Dallas has too many other needs. One obvious target for that attention is clearly building the trenches on the other side of the ball. Still, it seems that Jones is really beginning to appreciate the need to attain quality pieces to sustain the success that the Cowboys offensive line is beginning to experience. Still speaking about building the big uglies up front, Jones hinted at the possibility of continuing to invest higher level picks on offensive linemen in the future, but only if the conditions were right.
"We have used 2s a lot, relatively speaking – not a lot – but 2s on Larry Allen, 2s on Flozell Adams. That’s a pretty high pick."
While we may not see another first-round offensive linemen in the near future, it is good to know that Jerry Jones is beginning to see the necessity of placing a priority on securing high-level talent to protect his quarterback and clear the way for the Dallas running game.
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