The Dallas Cowboys have some very real questions that must be answered this offseason on the offensive side of the ball. They will have at least four new positional coaches, many of the players on offense will return. It’s very early in the process and things could change dramatically before free agency or the draft. Let’s at least take a stab at fixing the offense with a few moves:
Move 1: Find a swing tackle
When Tyron Smith went down, Dallas believed they had the right guys to man the position but were so wrong. Byron Bell and Chaz Green may return this offseason but the Cowboys really need a more reliable swing tackle.
You can’t always pay veteran minimums for guys and expect them to outperform their worth. Still, the Cowboys can find an affordable option and this is a position they look to free agency for:
Sign OT Cameron Fleming, 6’6, 320 lbs, 26-years old
Projected Value Per PFF: $1.8 - $2.1 Million per season
That’s really not a terrible amount to pay for Fleming, who’s one of three Patriots offensive tackles hitting the market. Fleming is a solid pass blocking tackle that has improved a ton in run blocking but just so happens to be behind a hard depth chart to crack. Fleming has played in 47 games and started 20 of them at various positions.
Move 2: Draft a starting left guard
Jonathan Cooper was serviceable when he was playing in between two All Pros but his lack of ability was quite noticeable without Smith playing. The Cowboys tried their favorite route of giving a former high pick a chance to redeem himself, now they should go a different route. The Cowboys should consider using another first-round pick on this position. In the first nine weeks of the season, Dak Prescott was sacked only 10 times, he would be sacked 22 times in the last seven games.
This really isn’t a team that can get by with being a decent offensive line, they’re constructed in a way where the line is the key ingredient to their success. They were seriously compromised on the left side last season and unfortunately Ezekiel Elliott wasn’t there to disguise things.
Isaiah Wynn, Georgia - He’s an excellent run-blocker that can play all positions including tackle. Wynn has the natural aggressiveness that you want in a guard and was equally dependable in pass blocking.
Will Hernandez, UTEP- He’s already met with the Cowboys and is very strong at the point of attack. He does lack the length of most NFL guard prospects but he’s made positive buzz with his performance in the Senior Bowl.
Offensive line is not one of the deepest position groupings, they need a starting left guard that they don’t have to pay a lot of money to for a while.
Move 3: Find A Replacement WR2
Some folks out there are talking about replacing the WR1 but that’s premature, and not helpful to the cap to think about right now. Plus, there are very simple ways the Cowboys could get cap relief from Dez Bryant without a pay cut or kicking the can down the road.
What the Cowboys need more than anything else is to find complementary options opposite Bryant. That’s not to say he doesn’t need to play better. Terrance Williams needs to be supplanted this season by a more reliable option that produces. The excuses of the past that “Jason Witten is the number two” are not going to cut it. Dak Prescott needs more weapons that have good hands, run crisp routes, and get separation.
Sign Free Agent WR Donte Moncrief, 6’2, 216 lbs, 24-years old
Projected Value per PFF: $1.5 - 1.7 Million
New receivers coach Sanjay Lal has some experience with Moncrief and he had a truly solid year in 2015 for the Colts. The problem is that he’s had anything but steadiness at the quarterback position as Andrew Luck’s status remains unknown. Moncrief is young, fast, and a really solid route runner that has reliable hands.
Draft Wide Receiver in Second Round
Unless the Cowboys can get Calvin Ridley in the first, it’s likely they go hunting for a receiver in the second. Christian Kirk would be the best choice if he’s still available. If not and the following guys are available, they should be in business:
Anthony Miller, Memphis: One of college football’s most productive receivers averaging 95 catches, 1,400 yards, and 16 touchdowns the past couple of seasons. Great hands, smooth route runner, and knows how to find openings against tight secondaries.
DJ Moore, Maryland: Just a very explosive player that has the ability to take it in for the score every time he touches the ball. Quick receiver, who is built solid for his 5’11 frame and he’s very physical.
Michael Gallup, Colorado State: Big framed receiver that’s very physical and can go up to grab just about any pass though he lacks any true elite skill. He’s very hard to get down and could make an immediate impact. Despite him receiving a ton of attention, he still destroyed his competition.
The best way to make the offense more “Dak-friendly” is to improve the passing offense and that means you need to add talent. Who cares if some players feel threatened, it’s a replacement business.
Move 4: Draft a Day 3 gadget back
The Cowboys have one of the best running backs in the league that hardly needs to come off the field. After that, they have Rod Smith who was valuable piece for Dak Prescott last season. The Cowboys don’t need to re-sign Alfred Morris, who will be 30 this year, they need to find a gadget back for another wrinkle on offense. They so wanted that player to be Donnel Pumphrey last draft season but alas the stars didn’t align.
What would work is a quick scat-back option who is dynamic as a pass catcher. On Day 3, there will still be plenty of quality options but you just need one that can make plays in space and give you some help on special teams. A couple of options that are intriguing are:
Akrum Wadley, Iowa- He’s 5’11 and 195 lbs but was a Swiss-Army Knife for the Hawkeyes scoring 13 times and putting up over 1,400 yards. His frame may suggest he’s undersized but he plays a physical style of football and has held up. He’s got good hands and vision with the ability to make defenders look silly trying to tackle him.
Ito Smith, Southern Miss- Very undersized at 5’9, 195 lbs but he can really go as his Senior Bowl performance showed. He’s built in the same exact style as Pumphrey was last season. Smith has game-breaking speed but it’s not all he offers as his vision and elusiveness allow him to make an impact anytime the ball goes his way.
These are just a few examples but if the Dallas Cowboys come away this offseason fixing these items in any way, it’ll lead to success on the football field. The offense isn’t completely broken but it could use some valuable attention to make it dynamic around Dak Prescott.