We're down to number five in our training camp battles countdown, spawned from this list at the mothership. Today's topic deals with depth, specifically the swing tackle position. Last year we got an indication of just how important this position is when Jeremy Parnell had to step in for right tackle Doug Free and play some of the second half of the season. The fact the Cowboys continued on and did well in the playoffs attests to the need for quality depth along the line.
First we'll hear from the mothership:
5. Swing Tackle - If the season started today, Darrion Weems would have this job locked up. He performed admirably in Doug Free's absence during OTAs - not to mention, third-round draft pick Chaz Green just underwent hip surgery. The Cowboys are hopeful Green will be ready to participate in some portion of training camp, though. And there's also the possibility that La'el Collins could spend some time at tackle in training camp.
With Jeremy Parnell leaving in free agency, the Cowboys realized they needed to add competition for the primary backup tackle. They used the draft and their own roster, instead of venturing out into free agency.
Darrion Weems is in the lead at this point, almost by default. Weems has been impressive in the limited action of OTAs and minicamp while filling in for Doug Free. His competition will come from two draftees and one UDFA who may be the most-talented of them all.
When the Cowboys took Chaz Green in the third round of the 2015 draft, he became one of the favorites to be the swing tackle. Teams don't use third-round picks on players unless they're expecting them to make a difference. Unfortunately for Green, the same thing that hurt him in college is hurting him in the pros, and that is being hurt. Hip surgery has sidelined him, but he may be able to go for some of camp.
Dallas also drafted Laurence Gibson in the seventh round of the 2015 draft, and he could get himself into the mix if he can get on the field. He's been sidelined with a broken finger.
The wildcard in all of this is UDFA La'el Collins. This guy, as everyone knows, was top-shelf talent in the draft. It's reasonable to expect he'll be starting for Dallas sometime in the future. The question is, where will that be, guard or tackle? The early returns say guard, but we'll need to wait until the pads really go on and serious hitting is taking place. Teams generally value the tackle position higher than the guard, so if Collins shows he's capable of being a tackle, the Cowboys may want to get him on that path as soon as possible in anticipation of replacing Doug Free one day.
Looking at it right now, Weems has the inside track because he's healthy and he's been getting first-string reps with Free rehabbing. But the Cowboys obviously believe in Chaz Green, picking him higher than most people had him ranked. They would like for that investment to pay off. And La'el Collins, if he is as advertised, is more talented than any of the swing tackle candidates.
So who ya got? Poll below and then hit the comments.
Previous camp battle articles
Cowboys Position Battles (Training Camp 2015): Linebacker
Cowboys Position Battles (Training Camp 2015): Defensive Tackle
Cowboys Position Battles (Training Camp 2015): Cornerback
Cowboys Position Battles (Training Camp 2015): Free Safety
Cowboys Position Battles (Training Camp 2015): Backup QB