The Cowboys are in good shape at both tackle positions with Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith and right tackle Doug Free. Dallas drafted center Travis Frederick with its first selection in the ’13 NFL draft and also inserted second-year guard Ronald Leary into the starting lineup at left guard for the first time last season.
The result was the franchise’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2006 in starting tailback DeMarco Murray.
Nonetheless, Dallas still needs to address the right tackle spot.
Veteran guard Brian Waters was signed to his second stint with the Cowboys on September 3. A move that looked pretty good early on ended prematurely when Waters, having just started playing again following an abbreviated retirement, was placed on injured reserve at midseason.
Waters will turn 37 in just over a month from now and it’s a bit hard to imagine that he’ll play football in 2014. Even if he does, he’s certainly not a long-term solution to what looks like the only remaining position on the offensive line to be addressed for the long haul.
This is where the name Cyril Richardson of Baylor becomes quite interesting.
If you’ve been keeping up with current events regarding football in Waco, Texas, you’re already aware that the Bears have become quite relevant in college football. The lion’s share of that relevancy is due to an offense that has been rather explosive over the last few seasons. Names like quarterback Robert Griffin III and wide receivers Terrance Williams and Kendall Wright certainly highlight a growing list of early draft picks to enter the NFL over the last couple of annual player-selection meetings.
But along with those sexy offensive skill position players comes great blocking, and Richardson was arguably the best and most versatile at Baylor beginning in 2011.
Richardson is a physical monster standing 6’5” and weighing in at a staggering 335 pounds. He’s not quite Leonard Davis in weight or Hall of Fame lineman Larry Allen in power, but he’s comparable to both of those former Dallas linemen that helped to produce much better rushing attacks than the crews we’ve seen over the last several seasons.
Size and power win in the NFL, period. There’s also a higher premium placed on youth than ever before in the professional ranks.
Richardson serves as a great fit in all of those categories.
Plug in a player like this on an offensive line that already possesses one Pro Bowl left tackle and possibly another at center in the coming seasons and the Cowboys could accomplish some things they simply haven’t in recent years—like a playoff victory.
After a miserable season under defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, nobody would fault Jones for drafting a defensive lineman or pass-rushing specialist in the first round next May. This is probably ideal for several reasons, provided that the player lives up to expectations.
According to WalterFootball.com, Richardson is projected to go somewhere between the first or second round, and this is probably true. Things could certainly change for Richardson depending on how he grades out during the NFL Scouting Combine in late February, but I wouldn’t expect him to drop very much, if at all.
The idea that Richardson might be had in the second round would still allow the Cowboys to go after a pass-rusher like Kony Ealy of Missouri or a defensive tackle like Ra’Shede Hageman of Minnesota.
Either way, quarterback Tony Romo, moving forward, must have a more dominant running game at his disposal. His back situation is well documented and about the only way to ensure that his playing days aren’t near the end is to draft a massive mauler, like Richardson, to reduce the hits that he’s taking while dropping back to throw too many times per contest.
Finally, it should give Dallas fans goose-bumps when considering the increased likelihood that the Cowboys might actually have a single 1,000-yard rusher in two consecutive seasons for the first time since a guy named Emmitt Smith lined up in the backfield.