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Cowboys 2022 Draft plan: 4 guards to consider if Zion Johnson or Kenyon Green are gone

The Cowboys will need a Plan B for the draft.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 23 Oregon at UCLA Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys need a new left guard. All signs are pointing to the Cowboys addressing the position in the first round as two of the top collegiate guards, Zion Johnson and Kenyon Green, project to come off the board right around when the Cowboys are picking. That’s convenient.

But what if the Cowboys go a different direction at pick 24? They have three of the top wide receiver prospects, Drake London, Chris Olave, and Treylon Burks, as part of their 30 pre-draft visitors. It’s certainly possible they go wide receiver if one of the players they absolutely love falls to them. If that happens what the should Cowboys do about the guard position?

The bad thing about missing out on a guard in round one is that there isn’t a list of players readily awaiting in round two. The next couple of prospects, Darian Kinnard and Jamaree Salyer might be options, but they could be a bit of reach that early, especially if a great value pick awaits them at 56. For that reason, we’re going to start our search in round three.

Today, we’re going to identify four later-round players who have the upside to slide into the starting left guard spot.

Sean Rhyan, UCLA, 6’4” 321 lbs

Current draft position: 84th

Hanging out as the Bruins’ left tackle over the past three seasons, this former rugby player has made a great transition to football, a sport he didn’t start playing until high school. He has flourished at UCLA and was even a true starter as a freshman. If he can adapt that well, then he should have no problem sliding over to guard where his shorter arms won’t make him so vulnerable to those lengthy edge rushers.

What to love about him: He does such a fantastic job of putting himself in the right position. He is quick to his spots, shows good bend, and does a decent job getting to the second level. With improvement shown each year and 31 college games already under his belt, Rhyan has the traits to be a quality guard at the next level.

What needs a bit of work: He has great overall size, but short arms. His footwork and hand placement can be a little slow. He can get caught leaning and can struggle if he falls out of position early. He moves well, but his second-level processing isn’t quick enough. He can start a little too fast (tagged for multiple false start penalties) and finish a little too early.

When should the Cowboys target him: It could be close whether he makes it to pick 88. If the team loves him, they might want to consider packaging one of their many fifth-round picks to move up a little to secure his services in the middle of the third round.

Ed Ingram, LSU, 6’3” 307 lbs

Current draft position: 89th

From a pure talent perspective, the Tigers’ Ed Ingram is one of my pet cats of this draft class, but it’s hard to figure out when he might be selected. He’s got a pretty high range of outcomes. It’s possible his 2018 suspension (arrested for aggravated sexual assault, charges dismissed) plays a part in that. He returned the very next season and helped LSU win a National title.

What to love about him: He plays with a lot of power, has violent hands, and uses his size extremely well. He does a good job squaring up and holds blocks in pass protection. Ingram also has good athleticism, gets out in the second level, and moves bodies in the run game. He’s a savvy player who recognizes the action quickly. Despite his early troubles, he has shown a lot of maturity in recent years and was seen as a team leader.

What needs a bit of work: His hands are strong but need a little development work as he can be slow and miss his mark at times. He also can be a little overzealous when attacking causing him to careen off of defenders.

When should the Cowboys target him: He could go earlier and he could go later, but if he’s there at 88, he should be strongly considered.

Marquis Hayes, Oklahoma, 6’4” 318 lbs

Current draft position: 129th overall

Hayes is another one of my personal favorite value guys in this draft and we already listed him as a potential offensive sleeper from Day 3 of this draft. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he’s selected on Day 2. Hayes has been the starting left guard for the Sooners over the past three years, getting better with each new season.

What to love about him: He reacts quickly to position himself and plays with an excellent anchor. He has excellent vision and is fast to locate his attack points. Hayes’ hands are strong and active, and his reach is superb. He’s a strong finisher who plays with a mean streak.

What needs a bit of work: His footwork can be a little suspect and he will find himself a little upright at times. He has trouble repositioning himself causing him to lean. He got flagged for several penalties last year.

When should the Cowboys target him: His current draft position is 129th which just so happens to be where the Cowboys pick in the fourth round. Personally, I’d consider packaging a fourth- and fifth-rounder to move up earlier on Day 3 to get him.

Joshua Ezeudu, North Carolina, 6’4” 308 lbs

Current draft position: 205th overall

The Tarheel’s Joshua Ezeudu is another high upside player who is raw enough to slide in this draft. He’s the only one on this list who was an official 30 pre-draft visitor for the Cowboys, so we know the interest is there. His traits also served as a blueprint in helping identify the other guys in this article, but unlike the other guys, Ezeudu doesn’t come with as much draft clout so he could end up being a super-sneaky pick on Day 3.

What to love about him: He exhibits great athleticism for a guy his size. The foot quickness is there. The bend is there. Physically, he sets himself in a good position at the point of attack. Mentally, he is quick to recognize movement and reacts well. Like Ingram and Hayes, he plays with a fiery temperament, fighting through the whistle. He’s also a high-character guy/team captain.

What needs a bit of work: He possesses good length but doesn’t always his long arms to max out his effectiveness. He can struggle to hold his position once engaged and has been susceptible to penalties.

When should the Cowboys target him: His athleticism might trigger teams to not wait that long, so I’m okay with any of the team’s Day 3 picks. Ideally, it would be nice if the Cowboys could get him for one of their fifth-round compensatory picks.

Our own David Howman provided a more detailed breakdown of Ezeudu last week so make sure to check it out.

If the Cowboys miss out on Zion and Kenyon, when would you like to see them go after a guard? And who would you like them to pick?