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Could Dallas Go Offensive Line In The First Round Again?

With the news that the Cowboys won the coin toss at the combine, the possibility now exists that another team might be willing to do what it takes to "leapfrog" over Baltimore in the draft. With a trade down we have to ask ourselves if an offensive lineman then becomes an option.

Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Let's assume for a moment that the Dallas Cowboys trade back somewhere between ten and twelve spots and gain another pick. We'll continue to assume that by the time the team goes on the clock, none of the likely targets for their first-round selection remain in play. But in this scenario there are still some highly regarded players who would make an immediate impact on the team available, but unfortunately they do not fit the team's greatest needs. At this point the 'Boys can trade out of the first entirely, they can reach for a player at a position of significant need, or they can fill a lesser need and perhaps turn a relatively strong position group into a key strength. These are the types of decisions that give general managers an ulcer. At least in Dallas, the GM doesn't have to worry about losing his job for making a bad call.

The Cowboys GM, team owner Jerry Jones, both closed the door on and left the possibility wide open for the team again investing in an offensive lineman during the first round. Speaking in the way that only Jones can, Jerry discussed the possibility that Dallas would continue to spend periodic high picks on its offensive line with the media at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

"I don’t regret at all using those two No. 1s to get Frederick and Smith and don’t know if the circumstances would present themselves to use another one." - Jerry Jones

A trade back toward the end of the 2014 would bring those circumstances into play for the Cowboys. Working with the assumption that all the prime guys that the team is currently looking at having already been selected, we must now at least consider the possibility that the team would again take an offensive linemen. Let's take a brief look at the potential players they might have to chose from. (for a reference point I used the latest rankings from )

Offensive Tackles

Cyrus Kouandjio, OT Alabama
6'5" 310 lbs.

Over at Rob Rang highlights many of Kouandjio's strengths, including his athleticism, solid technique, and his mobility, while mentioning only a couple of flaws, a choppy slide step and a tendency to drop his head at contact. Most interesting is whom Rang compares the Alabama tackle to.

COMPARES TO: Tyron Smith, OT, Dallas Cowboys - Kouandjio's lean, muscular frame and superb athleticism will remind scouts of the former USC Trojan and now-Cowboys starting left tackle, and he has at least as impressive a skill-set as his former linemate D.J. Fluker, who the Chargers took 11th overall in 2013.

I don't know about you, but I could get used to having a "Tyron Smith type" on each end of the offensive line.

Morgan Moses, OT Virginia
6'6" 325 lbs

Moses is not the refined athletic lineman that Kouandjio is, he is a little more of a brute. While the Alabama tackle has the potential to man either side of an offensive line, Morgan Moses is most likely a right tackle at the next level. He does a good job firing off the ball and driving his man in the running game. Moses has a strong anchor in pass protection and he can effectively redirect pass rushers. A key weakness to his game is his lack of elite athleticism and that he struggles to get low on smaller opponents. Dane Brugler at compares Moses to a young Ryan Clady.

Like Clady, Morgan enters the draft with plus movement skills for his size, but comes with many of the same questions that Clady did in terms of his ability to gnerate power enough to move defenders consistently as a run-blocker.

Offensive Guards

David Yankey, OG Stanford
6'5" 314 lbs

Arguably the top guard available in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Australian-born Yankey (sorry, I couldn't resist the temptation) is a natural athlete. He displays very nice footwork and the coordination to fluidly adjust on the move. He plays with both the strength and quickness that you would expect from an All-American. His biggest opportunity for improvement is in maintaining pad level; at times Yankey will tend to get high and lose leverage. Again from Mr. Brugler we have a comparison to a highly regarded NFL offensive lineman.

COMPARES TO: Ben Grubbs, OG, New Orleans Saints - Yankey and Grubbs are comparable due to their natural abilities to open up holes in the run game and make it look easy with athleticism and strength.

Xavier Su'a-Filo OG UCLA
6'3" 305 lbs.

Early in the college football season, Rob Rang had this to say about the UCLA lineman:

The most experienced and pro-ready member of UCLA's talented offensive line is Su'a-Filo, a veteran of 38 career starts who some believe may look to leave campus early for the NFL given the fact that he spent two years on a Mormon mission before joining the Bruins.

Rob hit the nail on the head with that statement. The junior has declared for the 2014 draft, and he will likely go late in the first or early in the second round. Among his strengths are his core strength and his athleticism. He has displayed a solid anchor and agility in pass protection. UCLA runs a man blocking scheme, but thanks to his high level of athleticism, there is little question that Su's-Filo will be equally effective in a ZBS scheme.

While many of us would prefer that the Dallas Cowboys focus on the defense early in the draft, there will be some unique opportunities that will present themselves if the Cowboys chose to trade back. Similar to what the team was able to do in 2013, Dallas could find themselves with an opportunity to add another high quality piece to the offensive line while also securing a pick that could be used to acquire a quality starter in a later round. With the depth of second and third round defensive linemen that will be available this year, the Dallas brain-trust may be well advised to focus their strategy on securing as many of those guys as the possibly can rather than reaching to select one of them in the first round.

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