Mailbag: Tyron Smith’s Health? Jeff Heath’s Development As A Starter? - Staff, Dallas Cowboys
Rob Phillips and Bryan Broaddus takes a moment to answer questions from their mailbag, including a status update on the Cowboys All Pro left tackle.
I haven't heard much about Tyron Smith and his injury situation in this offseason. Since he plays such a critical position on the offensive line and his play, when healthy, is Pro Bowl caliber, what's his status? Has his injury situation gotten better or will it be a problem again this year?
Rob: Jerry Jones told us last week that Smith’s injury issues last year shouldn’t affect him in 2018. “Nothing indicates that what last year is, is what this year is going to be,” he said. Of course, that hasn’t stopped the Cowboys from trying to upgrade their depth behind Smith. The back has bothered him at times in recent years, and he missed the better part of four games last year due to knee and groin injuries.
Bryan: I was told from a reliable source that Smith was in California working on his back. He was making such progress that surgery was no longer an option and it was the best he’d felt in years. Hopefully this season he can play pain free.
Look to snap counts if you want to know how the Cowboys need to prioritize the 2018 NFL draft - VAfan, Blogging The Boys
Former BTB front page writer VAfan crunches some snap count numbers to reveal where the Cowboys need to supplement some playing time lost this offseason. What did it reveal?
What holes must the Cowboys fill in the draft and the rest of free agency?
Offensive guard. This remains the biggest hole in the Cowboys roster. Jonathan Cooper's 836 snaps have not been replaced at all. And if you think the plan is to move Cameron Fleming to right tackle and La'el Collins back to left guard, think again. Fleming is in Dallas on a one-year contract. If you made him the starting tackle, then the Cowboys would need a new swing tackle, which is hard to get in the draft, because you can't spend much in way of draft resources for a backup, and you can't rely on a backup being ready this year if called upon to start.
Expect Dallas to draft a guard in the first two rounds who they expect to have start.
Kenny Hill, Connor Williams lead Dallas Day invitees - Sam Quinn, 247 Sports
The Cowboys are showing an interest in offensive tackle and some of that interest are players in the first-round area, including local prospect Connor Williams.
He will likely be drafted in the first round, but won't fall below the second. The Cowboys are taking the right tackle position very seriously in the pre-draft process. They will use a top-30 visit on Notre Dame's Mike McGlinchey, so they are clearly considering using their first round pick on either him or Williams. Cameron Fleming signed with the team as a free agent this offseason and is expected to start at right tackle next season, but he is not the sort of guaranteed success that would warrant ignoring the tackle position entirely. It should be below linebacker, safety, nose tackle and wide receiver on this list, but tackle would still qualify as a need.
Could Dallas go after yet another top collegiate offensive linemen or will they direct their top draft resource to a defensive player? If only someone gave us a hint...
The hints Jerry Jones is dropping about the Cowboys' first-round pick in the 2018 NFL draft - David Moore, SportsDay
Is Jerry providing clues to who the Cowboys might pick at 19? Translating Jerry-speak can be a fickle thing, but sometimes there are some interesting nuggets.
"There is some defensive talent that has a chance to drop," the Cowboys owner said. "Therein lies your opportunity.
"If a number of quarterbacks are taken, a number of running backs are taken, two or three of those offensive tackles hit. Really as much as anything there could be a couple of guards taken ahead of us.”
"It's positioned for a situation to drop."
Jones' math may be a bit off. Only one running back is projected to be taken before the Cowboys are on the clock. There may be no offensive tackles gone.
But his principle holds. There will be four and possibly five quarterbacks selected in the top half of the draft. A couple of guards should go. A receiver. That could push a deeper talent plateau of defensive players in the Cowboys' direction.
This whole offense vs. defense dilemma has been going on for a while and some are still stewing about the Cowboys decision to draft Zeke a couple years ago.
Should Cowboys have drafted Jalen Ramsey instead of Ezekiel Elliott? The merit to that argument - Kristi Scales, SportsDay
Every year there are players linked together as comparisons are made. Kristi Scales takes on the question as to which All Pro should have been taken in 2016.
Was it a mistake to draft Elliott instead of Ramsey for this reason - Ramsey plays a position that can easily last through a second contract? The Cowboys may end up losing their No. 4 pick after five seasons if they don't think a RB is worth a huge contract.
Scales: Drafting Zeke instead of Jalen Ramsey was not a mistake. Both Ezekiel Elliott and Jalen Ramsey, taken one spot behind Zeke at No. 5 overall in the 2016 NFL Draft, are transcendent talents that when healthy (or in Zeke's case, not suspended) are game-changers. The selection of Zeke allowed the Cowboys to play to their strength (which was their offensive line) and control games offensively by emphasizing the run game. Zeke and the offensive line are the team's identity; the Cowboys want to control the game with the run, impose their will at the line of scrimmage by running the ball, then take the occasional shot downfield.
To your point of Ramsey playing longer because a defensive back takes less physical punishment than a running back, there is merit to your argument. Also, Ramsey is such a special talent, he affects the games by making plays on the play. Luckily, Ramsey was able to overcome a knee injury during rookie camp (meniscus tear) and play all 16 games in 2017. But he did have microfracture surgery on that same knee in high school. So far, he's played 16 games each of his first two seasons.
Cowboys Draft Digest: Volume 9 – Running Backs - Bob Sturm, The Athletic
This year's running back class is very deep and it has many Cowboys fans not even looking at a draft prospect until Day 3. But if a lot teams took this approach, it could allow some very good running backs to slide down the draft board. Are there any players too good to pass up? Bob Sturm provides his most recent breakdown, this time for the running back position.
Rashaad Penny — San Diego St — 5-11 – 220 – 4.46
Positives: Penny was a very productive rusher at San Diego State and will absolutely get some people fired up to add him as this draft develops. He can hurt defenses in a lot of ways, looks cut out to be a zone runner and knows to hit the gas at the precise time there is a seam up front. He gets to the outside and is effective once he has done so. He competes hard and is a shifty jump-cutter with some home run skills. He played his best games against top opponents and offers some game-breaking possibilities in the kick return game, too. He has a chance to really be a nice playmaker.
While an early investment at the running back position doesn’t seem likely, the Cowboys should turn to Day 3 to find their guy.
This dark horse running back could be a perfect fit with the Cowboys as Ezekiel Elliott's backup - Dane Brugler, SportsDay
Running back Darren McFadden was released last year and Alfred Morris hasn't been re-signed this offseason. Many people expect the Cowboys to look to the draft to find a young RB to fill out the depth chart, but when will they take one? Dane Brugler identifies a potential late-round candidate.
Do you think the Cowboys would be wise to draft a RB to back up Zeke moving forward?
Brugler: Yes and I expect them to draft a RB at some point on day three. Keep an eye on Southern Miss RB Ito Smith, who was super productive in college with over 4,500 yards rushing.
He's a tick undersized (5-9, 201), but where I like him best is the screen game where he was productive in college averaging over 10.0 yards per catch. He has the potential to be a reliable third down back if he develops as a blocker. Cowboys have shown interest in Smith.
.@DraftAnalyst1 reported that Southern Mississippi RB Ito Smith is drawing a lot of interest from the Carolina #Panthers: https://t.co/oaLMzNROgd— Edgar Salmingo, Jr. (@PanthersAnalyst) April 2, 2018
Here's my favorite highlight of his... the way he drops his hips, freezes the defender, and wills his way to TD... are you serious? pic.twitter.com/in5QoMtHw5
I haven’t seen a run like this since Nelly was juking the guards in the movie The Longest Yard.
New England Patriots Perfect Trade Down Partner for Cowboys? - Brian Martin, Inside The Star
Many of us would love the idea of trading back in the first round in order to acquire some additional draft capital, but can we find a trade buddy? Brian Martin goes over a couple scenarios involving trades with the AFC Champs.
I'm actually a big fan of the Dallas Cowboys trying to find a trade partner and trade down from the 19th pick. I like the idea of drafting as many players in the top 100 as possible, and trading down would allow the Cowboys to do just that. But, the tricky part about this is to find a team willing to work with.
Enter the New England Patriots.
You see, the Patriots need a new starting left tackle after the departure of Nate Solder. Unfortunately for them, this is a pretty weak LT draft class, which means they may need to move up in the first round in order to find someone capable of starting as a rookie.
They could also be looking to find Tom Brady's eventual replacement. If Lamar Jackson is somehow still sitting there at 19, he could be a player they are interested in moving up for. Josh McDaniels is apparently the next head coach for the Patriots and he's already shown he's willing to move up for an athletic QB (Tim Tebow) when he was with the Denver Broncos.
Let’s finish this off with a little mock love, shall we?
2018 mock draft tracker: Calvin Ridley and Da’Ron Payne are the front-runners for the Cowboys - Dave Halprin, Blogging The Boys
While it's anyone's guess who the Cowboys will pick at 19, it's a very good possibility it could be an Alabama player.
Now that free agency has settled down, the mock drafts can reassess the needs for each team and adjust their picks. Today, we look at 16 mocks for the Cowboys first-round pick at #19 in the 2018 NFL draft. Instead of coming to a consensus as the draft draws closer, it seems like the Cowboys picks are getting more varied.
Mock Draft Roundup: Cowboys’ Options Are Wide Open At Pick No. 19 - Dave Helman, Dallas Cowboys
The Mothership offers up an nice mock draft roundup with those Alabama boys showing up again and again.
ESPN.com’s Mel Kiper
Date of Mock: April 4
Pick: Alabama LB Rashaan Evans
Comment: Evans could replace Anthony Hitchens at middle linebacker and help rush the passer on third downs.
NFL.com’s Charley Casserly
Date of Mock: April 3
Pick: Alabama DL Da’ron Payne
Comment: “Payne is an excellent run defender who has potential as a pass rusher, too.”
Cowboys Mock Draft 7.0: Cowboys snag four impact players in first two days - Michael Sisemore, Blogging The Boys
Check out Michael Sisemore's latest mock, including that Ito fella again.
Pick 236: Cowboys select Ito Smith, RB, Southern Mississippi (Brugler: 230th)
Analysis: Dallas has an empty backfield after All Pro Ezekiel Elliott and backup Rod Smith. They also would like to find a running back with speed that makes things happen in open space. Smith is an undersized runner but he doesn’t have the durability concerns that most guys his size come with. He’s got a compact build and is coming into the NFL with plenty of production. He’ll give the Cowboys a change of pace player that has tremendous upside in the short passing game.