When building an NFL roster, present needs generally outweigh those that may pop up in the future, however, keeping both in mind should always factor into the equation. That’s the mindset the Dallas Cowboys may be taking into account as to how they go about replacing Connor Williams at left guard.
Upgrading the interior of their offensive line is one of the Cowboys top priorities this offseason, especially at left guard. With Connor Williams likely leaving via free agency, and Connor McGovern’s inability to cement himself as a starter last year when given the opportunity, Dallas could be looking to draft an interior offensive lineman in the first few rounds.
The Cowboys drafting an interior offensive lineman early shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise if you’ve been looking at any mock drafts circulating around the Internet. Tyler Linderbaum, Kenyon Green, and Zion Johnson have all been regulars mocked to the Cowboys at No. 24, but we might not want to rule out an offensive tackle either.
During a recent interview on the DallasCowboys.com Draft Show, Cowboys vice president of player personnel Will McClay mentioned the position flex at tackle. As someone who’s in the know, it may be wise to pay close attention to anything he says leading up to the 2022 NFL Draft.
“I think the depth of the offensive tackle group makes the interior offensive line (class) better because you can move those guys down,” McClay said. “Typically, they’re better athletes than guards, and with the athleticism of defensive linemen and length and all of that other stuff, I think the depth of the tackle (class) makes the interior depth better.”
McClay went on to say how position flex is even more important because of injuries and limited roster numbers on game days.
“The flexibility gives you flexibility on your team in case of injuries and all those things,” McClay said, “which is very valid now when you talk about a (salary) cap and you talk about 10-12 players taking up so much of your cap. It’s the flexibility of players that helps you have depth and consistency on your team.”
If what Will McClay says is true, we may need to start playing a little more attention to some of the offensive lineman who could be drafted early who have position flex. There are a few prospects the Cowboys could be eyeing at No. 24 who could fit the position flex criteria, but whether any of them will still be available when they are on the clock is unknown.
Potential OL with position flex Cowboys could draft early
OT/OG Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa - Penning is an imposing 6’7”, 325-pound offensive lineman who could be a plug-and-play left tackle or guard for the team who drafts him. He has a nastiness to his game and a mean streak that could do wonders for the Cowboys offensive line at either position from Day 1.
OT/OG Kenyon Green, Texas A&M - Green played every position except center during his time at Texas A&M and it’s that kind of position flex that could have him on the Cowboys radar. He didn’t have the best showing at the NFL Combine, but he should still be considered as a potential upgrade at LG as Connor Williams replacement.
OG/C Zion Johnson, Boston College - Johnson may not have the position flex to kick outside to tackle, but he does have the versatility to start at either center or guard in the NFL. With the need to replace Connor Williams at LG or maybe find an upgrade over Tyler Biadasz, the Cowboys could be hoping he’s still available at No. 24.
OT/OG Tyler Smith, Tulsa - Smith played predominantly at left tackle during his time at Tulsa, but many believe he projects better if kicked inside to guard in the NFL. He needs to clean up his technique and cut down the penalties, but he’s another player who plays with a mean streak who could upgrade the Cowboys offensive line.
OT/OG Darian Kinnard, Kentucky - At 6’5”, 322-pounds with 35” arms, Darian Kinnard fits the mold teams look for in an offensive tackle in the NFL. That’s where he predominantly played during his time at Kentucky, but some believe his best position is if he’s kicked inside to guard. With that kind of versatility, Dallas will surely be monitoring him on Draft Day.