The Dallas Cowboys offensive line became a juggernaut unit in 2014. After losing Jermey Parnell, who started six games, to Jacksonville via free agency; there seems to be a hole to fill. The Cowboys were able to retain Doug Free for a very team-friendly deal, but Dallas needs a good insurance policy. The likes of Donald Hawkins and Darrion Weems are not exciting very many at this point. Maybe a little competition is in order.
The 2015 NFL Draft will have depth to favor the Cowboys should they grab another tackle or two. Dallas will probably not use a first-round pick on a tackle, but rather a mid-round selection would suffice. However, if they follow the BPA formula, you never know. Let's take a look at the tackles available in the draft and what the scouts had to say about them.
1. T.J. Clemmings, 6'5 309 lbs, Pittsburgh
Clemmings is garnering interest from many clubs. He's got great size and a long athletic frame. He shows great fluidity and uses his big base to cut off pass rushers. He's got really powerful hands that give him a great punch. He's mastered the kick-slide motion and has surprisingly good footwork. Anytime a guy is getting comparisons to Tyron Smith it's a good thing. Like Smith, he may end up measuring out as the best prospect. He can seem a little stiff at times and needs to loosen up his hips. Though his hands are powerful, he struggles with placement. He's also a bit raw at the position and needs some fine tuning. He's a fast learner and has supreme athleticism. Clemmings will certainly be picked in the first round but more likely a late-first with tremendous upside.
2. Jake Fisher, 6'6 306 lbs, Oregon
Fisher is a converted tight end which shows in how fluid his motion is. Very good in zone schemes and has a nice bit of quickness to him. Fisher is really good at keeping his knees bent for action and has shown to be able to redirect pass rushers, eliminating them from the play. He takes supremely well to coaching and is what Garrett calls a "lunch pail guy." Very hard worker and determined player who gets to the second-level with a zip. He may struggle early handling the speed rusher types. He's more of a technician and tends to get off balance. All of those negatives can be disposed by a good coaching staff which Dallas has. Fisher is more a late-first early second day selection.
3. D.J. Humphries, 6'5 307 lbs, Florida
Humphries is the type of guy who can scare you at times. He's so athletic but has finished the past two seasons on the injured list. His nasty demeanor and physical toughness make him jump out at you. He's the type of guy that plays through the whistle and sometimes past it. He's a tough-willed competitor with elite-level abilities. Go watch his tape against Shane Ray, let's just say handling him is an understatement. Humphries could gain about 10-15 pounds but his agility, power and balance is unmatched. The talent is certainly there for the taking, but concerns about his spotty fundamentals give pause. He's currently projected as a second day player but could be taken ahead of schedule for his upside.
4. Ty Sambrailo, 6'6 311 lbs, Colorado State
Ty is Bryan Broaddus' favorite candidate for the Cowboys. He's very agile and quick enough to get down the field to make blocks. He has a talent for sealing the edge off and finishing off would-be rushers. His high football acumen helps him with his great play recognition skills. He's got great balance and a very technically sound pass blocker. He does need work in run blocking but shows no reasons why he can't learn. Great technician and nasty blocker with great hand placement. Natural leader to his teammates and gives amazing effort until the whistle. Very tough competitor and results-driven prospect. He's currently projected as a right tackle in the second or third round.
5. Cedric Ogbuehi, 6'5 306 lbs, Texas A&M
A naturally gifted talent, Ogbuehi has the prototypical look for a tackle. He's got the broad shoulders, lean torso, long arms and other traits. He's a very athletic tackle with power to boot. Cedric is very light on his feet and can latch onto defenders rendering them useless. He's also a very solid run blocker and like Fisher gets to the second level with ease. Ogbuehi is also a very conditioned athlete who makes his way to the linebacker with power. He has a lot of tape matching up against top level defenders and did really well. He has really spotty hand placement and his upper body technique needs work. He's also got questions about his functional strength and anchor abilities. However, he's another good value pick in the third round.
6. Donovan Smith, 6'6 338 lbs, Penn State
Big, fluid athlete with good foot quickness and a high competitive nature that translates well at the next level. Has a smooth way of sliding that help get him good leverage. Very quick to the second level and is very cognizant of blitz protection. Has versatility and flexibility to play many different positions on the line. Big frame but still needs improvement in other areas before he's sure-fire NFL-ready. Plays a little too high at times which is a bad habit. He leaves a lot of space inside and is vulnerable to swims and spins. Donovan is measured to be off the board anywhere between rounds three or four.
7. Tyrus Thompson, 6'5 324 lbs, Oklahoma
Thompson has what Dane Brugler calls "tree-trunks for thighs" and his lower body is built well for the NFL. He's got good initial quickness and long arms that make him equally efficient in run or pass blocking. Thompson also had extensive exposure in the Big 12 to elite pass rushers. He's got good functional strength but overall needs help to not get bullied on his heels. He tends to get grabby and must eliminate his mental mistakes but could be a starting right tackle at the NFL level. That being said Thompson could be had in the late fourth round.
8. Eric Lefeld, 6'6 310 lbs, Cincinnati
I mocked him in the seventh round to Dallas in my latest. He's got good length with long arms and good athletic ability. Has some nastiness to him and flashes explosiveness off the ball. He's dependable and has great production. very durable player. Needs to not play so upright and lower his hips but could be a developmental player with upside to start. Improved as a run blocker in 2014 and already shows ability in passing downs. Never leaves field, relentless motor. Very optimistic that Lefeld could handle the swing tackle duties and may even develop into something more. Not a lot of exposure for him but a warrior on the field every time out. My pet cat with upside for the seventh round.
As said previously, the Cowboys are likely to find a perfect swing-tackle candidate in this crop, or some other potential candidates int he draft. With Doug Free signing what is likely his last deal in Dallas, it's never to early to start looking. In our next series, I'll bring forth a safety class where much is left desired. Those that want one will have to spend a high pick. As always, I look forward to hearing your opinions.