Quick, name as many first round offensive lineman drafted in Dallas Cowboys history as you can…
Are you having trouble? Did you get stuck after naming 2011 first round offensive tackle Tyron Smith? If you did get stuck, no worries, don’t think about it too hard. It has only happened four times in 53 years of Dallas Cowboys football. Only four times, and two of those were considered “busts” (Center Robert Shaw in 1979 and Tackle Howard Richards in 1981). The jury is still out on tackle Tyron Smith (2011), but most believe he will turn into a perennial Pro Bowler and our cornerstone left tackle. Only first round guard John Niland in 1966 turned into a home run being selected to six consecutive Pro Bowls from 1968-1973 before being traded to rival Philadelphia following the 1974 season.
Needless to say, as a franchise, we have not valued offensive linemen enough to justify spending a first round draft pick. That’s not to say we have not found talent in later rounds and even rookie free agency, because we have. But good ‘ol Jerry has only spent his first round pick on keeping the quarterback upright once (Tyron Smith – 2011).
This brings us to one of the most talked about and vilified athletes in professional sports… none other than Mr. Tony Romo, who has been running for his dear life behind our pathetic offensive line the last two seasons.
Let me go ahead and get something out of the way beforehand regarding Romo’s HIGHLY controversial contract extension: It does matter if Tony Romo received $108 million dollars (which he did) OR $8 million dollars. It does not matter if Tony Romo received $55 million guaranteed (which is really $40 million fully guaranteed) OR only $5 million guaranteed. It does not even matter if Tony Romo signed a six year extension (which he did) OR a two year extension. For the sake of argument, NONE of the exact numbers matter.
Because there would have been a NATIONAL debate no matter the numbers. Most times when one even mentions Tony Romo, a heated debate immediately follows. One BIG reason why…that beautiful Dallas star of course.
Here are the facts regarding Romo entering 2013…There are seven: Ready?
1. Tony Romo WILL retire with that same beautiful star on his helmet…PERIOD
2. Tony Romo is an EXTREMELY talented quarterback. I repeat that…an EXTREMELY talented quarterback that can often make our porous offensive line look like a Pro Bowl group with his escape ability and uncanny awareness to extend a broken play
3. Tony Romo has the proper skillset AND mind-set to win in Dallas
4. Tony Romo needs a Super Bowl ring to shut EVERYBODY up
5. Tony Romo CAN lead our ‘Boys to a Super Bowl victory
6. Tony Romo is NOT the problem is Dallas folks
7. And finally…Tony Romo deserves protection
Also, whether most fans or “Romo-bashers” believe it or not; if Tony Romo would have hit the open market in 2014 as an unrestricted free agent, the list of teams vying for his services would have been long…VERY LONG! Why? Believe it or not, Romo is a Top 10 quarterback. Is he 1-6 in elimination games? Yes, but so are DeMarcus Ware and Jason Witten. So are the Dallas Cowboys. But that’s another story (and article) entirely.
So, Jerry, Stephen and Jason… it’s finally time protect your investment, because we all know Romo deserves it after being sacked a combined 72 times over the last two seasons.
If Jerry Jones indeed wants to maximize Tony Romo’s talents and take advantage of Romo’s remaining prime years with the club and FINALLY fulfill his promise to make the team around his quarterback “Romo-friendly,” he desperately needs to PROTECT his $119.5 million dollar franchise quarterback. And he can do that by drafting a first round offensive lineman for the only second time in his 24 years at the helm.
And I would not even be against going offensive line with two of our top three picks. Aside from an evident need and a desperate upgrade, the scouts are also projecting a deep class of quality offensive linemen available in the first two days of this month’s draft.