It doesn’t seem to matter where the Dallas Cowboys pick in the first round of the draft as Will McClay and the scouting department always seem to do a nice job finding a quality player to add to their roster. They are not perfect by any means as they’ll get a Taco here or a Claiborne there, but overall, this group has a first-round track record that speaks volumes.
One unique thing about the Cowboys' drafting habits on Day 1 is their particular interest in targeting a player who is the very best at his position. Whether that ends up being true or not is a wait-and-see proposition, but that doesn’t stop the front office from trying to hack the draft by selecting players they believe are top dogs at their respective positions. And to their credit, they are pretty savvy at coming away with some great players.
Last year, we looked at this very same situation and made an attempt to guess who the Cowboys might go after in the 2022 draft. The top-rated guard was one of our candidates; however, that player was Texas A&M’s Kenyon Green. Little did we know that the Cowboys' top interior offensive lineman was actually Tulsa’s Tyler Smith. We know this because the impulsive ego-maniac that is Jerry Jones decided to flash the team’s draft card to the press after the media wasn’t buying what he was selling.
Not only was Jerry telling the truth, but the team appeared to know what they were doing because Smith turned out to be one of the better players from last year’s draft. Six offensive linemen came off the board before Smith, but in a recent ESPN re-draft, Smith is the top OL player selected as he was taken no. 6 overall. That’s not too shabby of a find for a team that had the 24th overall pick.
The question now becomes, can the Cowboys do it again?
We believe they can. In fact, even some names missing that list above include some athletic upside players like Leighton Vander Esch and Byron Jones, who actually earned All-Pro honors in Dallas. And another one of those draft picks was used to acquire Amari Cooper who outperformed any of the Day 1 wide receivers from the 2019 NFL Draft.
The Cowboys have become so good at this that it’s not really a matter of can they do it again, but rather, who will it be this year? So, over the new few weeks, we’re going to identify one player who falls into this category. To be eligible, a player must meet the following requirements:
- Can be viewed as one of the top players at their position.
- Has a realistic chance of being there at pick 26.
- Be a position where an upgrade could be used.
Based on this set of guidelines, you won’t see any of the top prospects mentioned. We’re going to kick things off by following the same script the Cowboys used last year and go after the traits.
GUARD, O’CYRUS TORRENCE, FLORIDA
If the team is looking to upgrade their power along the interior offensive line, Florida’s O’Cyrus Torrence could be the ticket. At 6’5” and 337 pounds, Torrence brings a lot of mass in the middle. He has great strength and knee bend to anchor down, not allowing rushers to bully him. He gets off the snap quickly allowing him to get in position to open up running lanes. Torrence also possesses good length to hold his blocks and has a never-quit mentality that sometimes ends with his opponent lying flat on his back. And unlike Tyler Smith a year ago, Torrence brings with him a penalty-free season in his final year in college.
Why he could slide to 26
Terrence’s huge mass comes with a downside as he’s not the most agile player. This causes him to be a little slow when he has to react to stunts and move around to pick up blocks. He’s also a very fiery player who will take his shots at defenders and if he misses, he can find himself off-balance. The raw traits are there, but he’ll need to clean up some of his techniques.
Why this makes sense for Dallas
The Cowboys selected Tyler Smith with the plan to play him inside at first and then eventually take over the starting left tackle position for Tyron Smith. An injury to Tyron altered the plan as the rookie Smith had to play LT right out of the gate. While Tyron Smith could return to his regular spot next year, there is also a range of outcomes where that doesn’t happen. Cap space, performance, and overall health are things that could send the team’s mainstay blindside protector into retirement. And even with Tyron on the roster, the Cowboys know how important it is to have depth along the offensive line as they have undergone an OL shuffle quite a bit in recent years.
The addition of Tyler Smith, Terence Steele, and Tyler Biadasz are huge steps in helping bring a youth movement to the Cowboys' offensive line. Selecting Torrence could make this young group even stronger.
Maybe you’re not interested in drafting a guard in the first round. Keeping in line with the guideline above, what player do you think fits the description? Help us out here, give us your best prediction as to who the Cowboys might target if they are looking for the best player in the upcoming draft at their respective position, and maybe they’ll make the cut next week.