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Cowboys news: La’el Collins thinks he’ll play tackle, but is open to what the team needs

The Monday morning links.

NFL: Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

La’el Collins hopes to stay at right tackle but will do whatever Cowboys ask - Charean Williams, PFT

Will La’el Collins play guard or tackle in 2018? It sounds like not even the Cowboys know yet, and while Collins likes tackle, he will play wherever the Cowboys want him.

Collins, 24, makes it clear he would prefer to play right tackle, saying, “I like playing tackle, so hey, I think that’s where we’ll be.” But he also said he will do what’s best for the Cowboys, and what’s best might require a move back to left guard.

“Man, at the end of the day, I’m here to help the football team,” Collins said. “I think we’re in the right direction. I think we’ll be where we need to be.”

He also spoke about his first year at tackle in 2017.

“I played against a lot of great players in my first year at right tackle,” Collins said. “For me, it only made me better as a player. Honestly, I never thought I could play multiple positions at the offensive line spot. Just being able to have played pretty much every position except center, it feels great. Going against those guys last year was a big stepping stone for me going into next year.”

Tyron Smith ‘feeling great’ after injury-plagued 2017 - Edward Lewis,

Cowboys’ star offensive tackle Tyron Smith could not stay healthy in 2017, and the offensive line (and offense as a whole) struggled as a result. The good news, though, is that Tyron says he is “feeling great” now.

Tyron Smith spoke words this week that surely made Dak Prescott -- and all Dallas Cowboys fans, for that matter -- happy.

“I’m feeling great now,” Smith said. “Actually, I feel like I’m in the best shape I’ve been in a while. I’ve taken this offseason to get back into it a little early and try to take care of my body a little more. I’m just doing the little small [rehab] things and I just feel awesome right now.”

“I went to California and went to a facility out there and starting training and rehabbing a little early,” Smith said. “We just worked on the little things like stretching and taking pressure off my back and opening up my hips a little bit. It’s just little things but I’m feeling great.”

Cowboys’ Tyron Smith offseason has him ‘in best shape I’ve been in a while’ - K.D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire

Now that his back is feeling better, here’s hoping that the Cowboys will get a better version of their superstar in 2018.

His 2017 Approximate Value from Pro Football Reference was also the lowest since his second season.

Dallas fortified their tackle position with the addition of swing tackle Cameron Fleming from New England. The Byron Bell signing of 2017 was a dud and Chaz Green, a former third-round pick has not materialized into a player who can be trusted. The two combined to allow seven of the 12 sacks the team allowed in Week 10 and Week 11 when Smith missed back-to-back games.

“My back is really restricted me a lot,” said Smith, who was still named to the Pro Bowl in 2017, for the fifth straight year. “But it’s feeling really good right now. We did some MRIs and it never was to the point where I needed surgery. I wanted to stay away from surgery. So I’m happy where we are right now.”

Cowboys 2018 draft: Offensive guard targets for each day of the draft - Ryan Ratty, BTB

It’s not offensive tackle, but Ryan has some offensive guard prospects to get to know. Will the Cowboys grab one to put next to Tyron?

Day 2

Braden Smith, Auburn

Smith is a freakish athlete. Looking at his combine numbers and his SPARq scores makes scout’s drool. He has size and power and was a durable player at Auburn. He is a mauler in the run game and has the ability to improve his game at the next level.

The reason he’s not a day one prospect is he sometimes doesn’t play up to the level of his athletic gifts. He can be rigid at times and his footwork isn’t always at the level you would like. He doesn’t always react as fast as you would expect.

Dallas Cowboys free agency allows for BPA draft strategy - Tyrone Starr, The Landry Hat

The Cowboys have a handful of needs, but the signings of Allen Hurns, Cameron Fleming, and Kony Ealy will allow Dallas to take the ‘BPA approach’.

As you can see I have 12 “fringe” players. The Cowboys also have ten draft picks coming up in a matter of weeks.

Using this roster review as a guide should help narrow down the direction of the Dallas draft. As I have mentioned a few times over the last couple of weeks, I do not expect Dallas to keep all ten picks. Even if I’m wrong, I highly doubt all ten would make the team.

Here are a few things we can surmise as it pertains to the roster:

The Cowboys have a definitive need for at least one running back and one, if not two linebackers. Those meeting rooms right now have too many empty chairs.

Last year’s addition of two rookies at cornerback and a rookie safety will not keep the Cowboys from looking here either. Depending on how the draft shakes down, adding a fifth corner or fourth safety to the competition mix would be wise.

Tight end may also be a position this team looks at, sooner rather than later.

2018 Draft: Cowboys “Need” at RB May Be Realized Earlier Than Expected - Sean Martin, Inside The Star

Will the Cowboys take a RB ? If so, Nyheim Hines is the hot name.

NC State’s Nyheim Hines may not have tested as the best athlete at the Scouting Combine, but on tape in the ACC he was good enough for 1,399 rushing yards and 152 receiving yards in his final Junior season.

Hines has experience as both a running back and wide receiver, and is an absolute terror in space for any defender. This is a player that gets up the field in a hurry with the ability to run with above average power and vision.

Filling out their depth chart at both RB and WR while keeping the numbers they currently have at both will be difficult for the Cowboys, making a player like Hines that much more intriguing.

Cowboys Draft: It’s time to stop calling Vita Vea a 1-technique - Reid Hanson, SportDFW

Vita Vea is a possible day-one pick for the Cowboys, and he would be a great selection if it came to be. Hanson explains why he is more than just a 1-tech defensive tackle.

Vita Vea, 6’4” 347lbs, may look like the prototypical 1-technique defensive tackle (nose), but he sure doesn’t have the prototypical skills of one. Vea is much more than a plugger – he’s a penetrator. The kind of rushman Rod Marinelli likes. He’s able to stand up against the run but he’s also quick and powerful enough to crash the backfield and provide splash plays.

It’s not that Vita Vea wouldn’t fill the role of 1-tech if the Cowboys were to draft him. But he’s clearly more than than that and to just call him a 1-tech can be pretty misleading.

The Cowboys don’t invite players they aren’t interested in. Smokescreens come later and usually aren’t part of this process. The visits are too valuable to waste on smokescreens. Every player invited for a visit is coming because the Cowboys see them as a viable option.

Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence calls franchise tag ‘a blessing’ - Gabrielle McMillen,Sporting News

It’s been a few weeks since the Cowboys placed the franchise tag on one of the best defensive players of the 2017 NFL Season. The Tank calls Dallas placing the tag on him a “blessing”.

The Cowboys defensive end said he looked at it as an opportunity, rather than a burden, and plans to use that time to improve himself.

”I was excited — just another opportunity to be a Dallas Cowboy,” Lawrence told the Dallas News. “There’s different ways you can look at a franchise tag, but I look at it as a blessing and another opportunity to get better, to get great.”

The tag for Lawrence is worth $17.1 million and both sides have until July 16 to work out a long-term deal. If not, Lawrence will play under the tag for the 2018 season.

Dallas Cowboys: What can we expect from Jaylon Smith in 2018? - Shawn Walbert, The Landry Hat

What are the expectations for 2016 second-round pick Jaylon Smith next season? What Dallas decides to do in the first-round could tell us a lot.

Dallas appears committed to Smith for the long term, but we will get a better read on how they truly feel regarding Smith come this year’s draft. The Cowboys have been linked to linebackers such as Alabama’s Rashaan Evans and Boise State’s Leighton Vander Esch as potential first round selections.

If the Dallas Cowboys pull the trigger on a linebacker such as Evans or Vander Esch in the first round, are their intentions to groom them at middle linebacker and possibly move Jaylon Smith to strong side linebacker? Or if they decide to go in another direction in the first round, does it show they have total confidence in Smith’s ability to fill the void left by Anthony Hitchens?

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