What are the odds that the Cowboys could play Zack Martin anywhere else besides guard in 2021? That will all come down to the health of the guys outside at tackle.
But healthy or not, is there a chance Martin plays anywhere other than right guard again?
The easy guess is that he’ll return to his normal position again. The consensus is that Martin is so good, so talented and so much better than his opponent, that he could probably success at any of the five spots.
So it shouldn’t have been a surprise that he shined at right tackle, especially since he was an All-American tackle at Notre Dame.
But assuming that both Tyron Smith and La’el Collins return to action next year from their injuries, the Cowboys should have Martin starting the season inside again.
A better question is if Martin is considered the next-best option and the Cowboys decide to go the route of Martin as the swing tackle.
That question will come down to how good the backups are at tackle vs. guard/center. If the Cowboys like what they’ve got in the form of Connor McGovern, Connor Williams and perhaps Joe Looney, who is a free agency, then it’s possible Martin might be used again at tackle if something happens to Collins or especially Smith, who has battled through neck/shoulder injuries for the last three years.
It’s about as unclear as it can get as to who the Cowboys might take with their first round pick, but odds are that it - as well as most of their other picks - will be used on a defensive player. But which prospects could be targets?
Levi Onwuzurike, DT, Washington: Despite missing the 2020 regular season as a COVID opt-out, Onwuzurike is flying up the charts after an impressive one-day showing that confirmed his athleticism, explosiveness, and hand skills. The (cite dimensions) operates like Mr. Myagi between the tackles with “wax on, wax off” maneuvers that enable him to whip blockers at the line. Onwuzurike’s relentless energy and competitive spirit combined with his high football IQ give him a chance to develop into a disruptive force in a one-gap scheme.
Richie Grant, S, Central Florida: It is hard to find safeties with a loaded toolbox that enables them to thrive near the box as a run stopper or in the deep middle as a centerfielder. Grant is an aggressive defender with excellent tackling skills and big hit ability. In addition, he is an instinctive ball hawk with outstanding instincts, awareness, and ball skills. The Central Florida standout repeatedly picked off passes in seven-on-seven sessions and team drills during practices while exhibiting the kind of playmaking ability that defensive coordinators covet in a safety.
Keith Taylor, CB, Washington: Long, rangy cover corners are always valued at a premium in the NFL, particularly by defensive coaches hoping to play more press coverage on the outside. Taylor measures 6-foot-2, 190-plus pounds with long arms and fluid movement skills. He disrupts receivers with his length and aggressiveness at the line of scrimmage, and his ability to hang in the hip pocket makes it difficult for quarterbacks attempting to squeeze balls into tight windows. As the NFL continues to evolve with bigger pass catchers dominating on the edges, defensive backs with Taylor’s size and skills will continue to fly up the charts as the draft approaches.
Film room: 3 things we learned from Senior Bowl and what they could mean for Cowboys’ draft plans - John Owning, Dallas Morning News
The Senior Bowl unfolded last week, giving NFL teams and fans alike a close look at the top senior talent in this draft class. For the Cowboys, who need to add a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball, it was a good week.
As a Pete Carroll acolyte, it shouldn’t surprise Cowboys fans to know that new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn prefers long cornerbacks on the outside. Luckily for the Cowboys, there’s appears to be a plethora of talented cornerbacks that meet Quinn’s size and length requirements, and it was apparent at the Senior Bowl.
Syracuse’s Ifeatu Melifonwu (6-2, 215 and 32 1/8-inch arms), Washington’s Keith Taylor (6-2, 191 and 31-inch arms) and Minnesota’s Benjamin St-Juste (6-3, 200 and 32-inch arms) all measured in above 6-2 with at least 31-inch arms and forced an incompletion during Saturday’s action.
Seeing all this CB talent at or above 6-2 had to make the Cowboys’ front office happy, especially considering the need at the position with Jourdan Lewis and Chidobe Awuzie slated for free agency.
Cowboys Mock Draft 6.0: Preparing for life after Prescott, Tyron Smith - KD Drummond, Cowboys Wire via Yahoo Sports
While it’s widely expected that Dak Prescott will be with the Cowboys in 2021 one way or another, there still exists the possibility he won’t be. That, along with Tyron Smith’s uncertain future, makes this draft very important.
The majority of rational Dallas Cowboys fans would like to see Dak Prescott as the long-term quarterback. The majority, but not all. It feels like, even though it’s been completely in their hands the entire time, the front office feels the same way. Yet, the deal isn’t done and until the ink hits the paper, there remains a chance that Prescott is going to need to be replaced sooner rather than later.
What that looks like is unsure, but we took a stab at laying out the various possibilities with these 10 options for the Cowboys at QB this offseason. One of the options would be to franchise tag Prescott, again, and then let him walk in 2022. We’re going to run this particular 2021 mock draft exercise with that in mind. Not just that, but also with the idea that the Cowboys will be making a transition on offensive line sooner rather than later, by having to say goodbye to Tyron Smith.
I think I did a good job of maneuvering around the draft with these edicts in mind. A series of trades ended up giving the Cowboys the same number of picks on Day 1 and Day 2, a position target we had in mind for 1.10, and a future selection that increases the chance of finding Prescott’s successor. Moving on from Prescott is hardly what we’d want to do, but if we felt like we had to, this would be way we’d like it to go down.
The Cowboys were expected to compete for a Super Bowl this past season, but a plethora of injuries ruined the momentum that Mike McCarthy brought in his first year in Dallas. As McCarthy gets his starters back for 2021, how much longer can those expectations be considered realistic?
The Cowboys already missed a window of opportunity when Prescott was playing on his rookie contract. That 2016 season, when the Cowboys went 13-3 in his rookie season, seems like a long time ago. But they looked primed to be a perennial contender with a young roster and little money invested in the quarterback position.
They have made the playoffs once since (a 2018 divisional-round loss). Going “all-in,” and teams being in “win-now mode,” are terms that get thrown around a lot but actually mean very little. “I don’t know why you would be in this business if you couldn’t win a championship,” coach Mike McCarthy said following the Cowboys’ 6-10 season.
The saving grace for Dallas over the immediate future could be the state of the NFC East.
Breaking down Cowboys’ 2020 NFL Draft class, from Lamb and Diggs to DiNucci - Bob Sturm, The Athletic
The Cowboys ended up seeing a lot of playing time out of their rookie class this season, most of it by need. Still, the guys that did play provided a lot of optimism for the future, especially the top two picks.
We certainly can wonder where his ultimate numbers might have ended up if Dak Prescott played the entire season, but even while receiving passes from four different quarterbacks, there is no doubt Lamb is exactly what the Cowboys hoped for: a game-breaking potential superstar. The attitude was “drop everything and take this guy” on draft day, and I do not believe anyone has any regrets on this front.
He plays mostly in the slot but only because he seems like their best option there. I do wonder what might happen by 2022 if the Cowboys do not keep Michael Gallup. Regardless, there were only two small concerns about his rookie year: He led the team with eight drops (somehow tied with Ezekiel Elliott) and also seemed to take a number of big hits to the upper body/head area, which could certainly become a problem for him over time.
I had significant concerns about whether Diggs was a first-round corner before last year’s draft, but late in the second round felt like an enormous value, and that has proven to be correct. He is the type of corner who is always looking for plays and the ball, and will certainly be a different experience from the typical “play it safe” corners the Cowboys have had in the last decade. Of course, the flip side of attempting big plays is that he might also surrender bigger plays on double moves and such, as we saw this year. But he fights and seems to relish the challenges. That sort of mentality is what is needed to play on the outside in the NFL, and I do believe his maturation process is well underway.
Cowboys Offseason: 3 Trades to take Advantage of Cap Strapped Teams - John Williams, Inside the Star
It happens every year: a team trades away a talented player in order to create some desperately needed cap space. Heading into the offseason, these three players could potentially serve as targets for the Cowboys, starting with Saints star cornerback Marshon Lattimore.
As mentioned before, the New Orleans Saints are currently projected to be $112 million over the cap for 2021. Even after they clear some of Drew Brees contract off the cap with a post-June 1st designation, they still have a ton of work to do.
The Cowboys need help at cornerback opposite of Trevon Diggs, and Marson Lattimore could be the fix they need. Lattimore, drafted in 2017, is going into the final year of his rookie contract. He’s got no more guaranteed money left on his deal, but they’d be unlikely to cut him outright. He’s a player they’d like to have as part of their future, but if they need to clear $10 million off the cap, Lattimore might be someone they’d be willing to move for 2021 or future draft compensation.
Though he allowed eight passing touchdowns in 2020, he’s been a pretty good player in his short time in the NFL. He also plays with a bit of an edge and swagger that would be nice to have on the outside.
With just one year left on his deal, the Cowboys could try to work out an extension or let him play it out before signing him to a long-term contract. Or they could take the one-year rental and recoup the draft pick sent to the Saints with a compensatory pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.