Make no mistake that even though the Dallas Cowboys are done drafting is the team ready to start. The dust has settled from free agency and the new draft picks are arriving for rookie mini camps. However, there are still some serious needs for the team before the season can start.
Whether or not the position groups are as deep as we want, the Cowboys seem firm to stick with their young, and somewhat unknown players for depth.
Even more concerning are positions where the team is top-heavy, but are followed up with special teams players, rookies and players coming off injury. Such as linebacker and wide receiver, for example.
These groups are topped off with Pro Bowl players Micah Parsons and CeeDee Lamb. Behind them, the depth gets a little sketchy.
- Michael Gallup – Recovering from a torn ACL
- James Washington – One year deal; Career rotational playmaker
- Jalen Tolbert – Rookie
- Noah Brown – Special Teams player; Rotational player
- Simi Fehoko – Second-year pro; No professional receptions to date
- Brandon Smith – Second-year pro; No professional receptions to date
- Leighton Vander Esch – One year deal; Often hurt; Inconsistent player
- Jabril Cox – Recovering from a torn ACL
- Luke Gifford – Core special-teams player
- Damone Clark – Rookie; Likely to sit the year on Injured Reserve
- Devin Harper – Rookie; Likely Practice Squad player
The Dallas Cowboys would do well to add a veteran to this group. Not only for depth but also to potentially start if any of these players are not ready from injury or inexperience.
At the very least, the Cowboys aren’t taking a gamble in starting any new players to a full-time capacity. These positions rely on depth, allowing players to play and recover.
Opposed to that is what has been the biggest glaring need all off-season: the offensive line. The only player without questions in right guard Zack Martin.
The Cowboys are just fine plugging in first-round pick Tyler Smith at left guard without contingency. He’s a fantastic run-blocker but is still raw in his pass protection technique. His strength won’t always make up for it in the league, likely getting pushed upright against the best defensive linemen in the league.
At the moment the only backup for Smith is Connor McGovern, who proved last year he’s a much better right guard than left. Night and day from his 2020 season performance.
Terence Steele and Tyron Smith are the starting tackles for now. Whether Smith is on the team past this season is another conversation for later. For now, we have to assume he’ll miss anywhere from 3-5 games this season.
If the contingency plan is that Josh Ball or Matt Waletzko will come in as the swing tackle and be ready in case either Smith or Steele can’t play, they’re playing with fire. Neither Waletzko nor Ball have taken an NFL snap, despite having traits the Cowboys desire.
And what about the center position? Stephen Jones has made it clear Tyler Biadasz’s job could be taken by second-year pro Matt Farniok, as the two will compete for the starting job.
A to Z Sports writer/primetime host Mauricio Rodriguez believes this competition is more about the development of Farniok, rather the inconsistency of Biadasz. Which if true shows fantastic development for Farniok and offensive line coach Joe Philbin.
Despite any upside in the prospects or upside of their young and unproven players, the Cowboys offensive line is still vulnerable. Vulnerable in its starters and its depth.
There are still plenty of quality offensive linemen available, who would add the depth and veteran experience the team lacks aside from their two future Hall of Famers.
Even though the starters seem obvious for the Cowboys, their desire for youth and potential might come back to bite them. Especially as the now 17-game season goes along.
The team doesn’t need to make any splash moves, but smart ones in these areas would be wise.
Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports