We know the top two tackles (Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel and Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher) will be gone in the top 5 picks. The lowest I have seen Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson fall in various mock drafts is seventh overall to the Arizona Cardinals. So barring anything unforeseen, all three of the top tackles will be long gone by the time our ‘Boys are on the clock at 18.
Now at least one of the top two elite guards (UNC’s Jonathan Cooper and Alabama’s Chance Warmack) could still be available when it comes time for our pick, or at least most Dallas fans across the country are hoping so. Guards and centers have traditional never been drafted extremely high as the premium has always been on the tackles instead. For instance the last time an interior offensive lineman was drafted in the top 10 of the first round was 1997.
I really like both players; it really depends on how well our ‘Boys actually like both players, and if either fall to us in the middle of the round.
Jonathan Cooper – Guard/Center – North Carolina
Cooper’s stock has been rising steadily since the NFL Combine where he excelled in his field work and also bench pressed an impressive 35 reps. Part of me is drawn to Cooper more, simply because of his position flexibility (being able to slide in and also play center at the next level) and superior footwork and agility. Because of this superior agility for a big man, he was considered one of the best pulling guards in the country last season blocking for his Tar Heel teammate Giovani Bernard. Overall, the consensus All-American Cooper is a tremendous talent both as a pass-blocker and a run-blocker (and probably a better fit for a zone-blocking scheme as oppose to a power man-blocking scheme).
If he plays guard for us this season, he would immediately enter the starting line-up as our new right guard, as I believe last season’s left guard, Nate Livings, will likely start again next season. If Dallas wants him at center however, he would likely be in a four-way competition with incumbent Phil Costa, Mackenzy Bernadeau (last season’s right guard who can play center) and undrafted guard/center combo Kevin Kowalski. I might also add that Cooper started a record 47 games in his four year career at North Carolina.
Chance Warmack – Guard – Alabama
Widely considered as the nation’s top guard for months, Warmack has recently taken a back seat to Cooper as the consensus top guard in this year’s draft. He does not share the same superior footwork and position flexibility as Cooper, but Warmack makes up for it with his incredible brute strength. He underwhelmed at the NFL Combine but redeemed himself at his Alabama pro day. Regardless of what you think of Warmack, the ‘Bama big man started 39 games in four years with the Tide, proving his durability. You might also be interested in another stat; take a wild guess of how many times Warmack was penalized in 732 snaps as a senior – TWICE. Power player- Road Grader- Mauler; whatever you call Chance Warmack, one thing is 100 percent certain; he will be a day one starter for whatever teams drafts him. For Tony Romo and the running game’s sake, I hope that team is our Dallas Cowboys.
Now if both of these players are gone by 18, we might be forced to go another route. But rest assured an offensive lineman WILL STILL be taken by Dallas in the first round, further proving just how deep this draft is for top level offensive line talent. If all three tackles are gone and both guards are gone, look for these next two guys either as a potential pick at 18, or trading down and picking up the other in the 20’s.