In our weekly installment of covering draft prospects, The Landry Hat attempts to make sense of the Cowboys’ difficult 2012 NFL Draft predicament. Dallas has the all-too-familiar challenge of filling many holes in a single off-season. In my opinion, offense lineman is one of these positions that must be filled this offseason and listed as a top priority. I have spent the last several weeks discussing the defensive side of the ball and listing popular collegiate draft prospects as possible top priorities in this year’s draft. I will list top prospects for offensive lineman in this article but it is my belief that Dallas should look to free agency to shore up that position more so than the NFL collegiate draft.
Carl Nicks, free agent guard for the New Orleans Saints, would bring instant credibility to the Cowboys offensive line and put them in position to make sweeping changes to the way they operate. I believe it is merely a matter of getting to OTAs and mini-camps before new offensive line coach Bill Callahan switches the positions of RT Tyron Smith and LT Doug Free. In 2011, Free had one of the worst seasons of any LT in the NFL, two short seasons after having one of the best seasons of any RT. In addition to this, Smith has shown great potential and individual talent that would translate well to the LT position. These two changes would completely change the face of the Cowboys offensive line and leave the job to Callahan to find a viable center by either the NFL collegiate draft or developing the talent already in house. Signing Nicks is certainly easier said than done, as he has said he wishes to stay a New Orleans Saint, but I believe if it can be done Jerry Jones should absolutely do so. I feel so strongly about this that I believe he is the missing piece to a championship-level offensive line.
Without further ado, here are the top 5 offensive lineman NFL draft prospects as listed by Walter Football:
Matt Kalil, OT, USC
Kalil would be the starting left tackle in Dallas on day 1. If the Cowboys found a way to pick him up, he would start at left tackle, Smith would stay at right tackle and Dallas would have one of the best young tackle combinations in the NFL. Too bad that will never happen because Kalil will never fall to #14 and Dallas would be foolish to throw away their future for Kalil in a trade because of the sheer amount of holes to fill. Don’t hold your breath on this one, Cowboys fans.
David DeCastro, G, Stanford
Many draft projections have the Cowboys taking DeCastro at #14. While I believe he would and could be special in the NFL, I still prefer to grab a proven veteran (Nicks) rather than spending such a high pick on an offensive guard. There’s so many other high quality guards that will fall to later rounds that I cannot see justifiably passing on a game-changing pass rusher or “shutdown” corner to select DeCastro this highly. If the Cowboys miss out on Nicks, however, it would not disappoint me to see DeCastro in a Cowboys uniform. He is as polished as they come from the collegiate level. He run blocks better than any offensive lineman in college (he can pull well, too) and can stop the best pass rushing tackles.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8I56-rnbZ8 (follow me on Twitter @MrCowboy74 and let me know if you can find some 2011 highlights)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9yIUuQgNmg (kid dominated at center in high school. Can you imagine getting pancaked on every play like that? Lol)
Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
Like Kalil, Reiff could very well be gone before Dallas selects. He is a special player with exceptional size and strength but I do not see Dallas justifiably taking him in this spot.
Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia
This is the type of player I was describing when I spoke of depth. When taking other team’s needs into consideration, there is a very realistic scenario where Glenn could fall to Dallas in the second round. Glenn is a fabulous guard that dominated his collegiate competition. He was a good-to-great pass protector and was phenomenal against defensive lines opening up holes for his backs. He could go in the first round but if he did fall to Dallas, he would not be a far drop-off from DeCastro. Glenn would be a steal for Dallas in the second round.
Kelechi Osemele, OT/G, Iowa State
Osemele is interesting because he can play both tackle and guard in the NFL (probably best at guard). He is projected to go in the second round, which again would be perfect for Dallas if they decided to go this route. He is another player that had an outstanding season against good competition. I was not overly impressed with his footwork but he sounds like an intelligent young man and he is a BEAST in terms of size (6’5” 333 lbs). Again, I would not be disappointed at all to see Osemele in a Cowboys uniform.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMUls29FhiI (follow me on Twitter @MrCowboy74 and let me know if you can find some 2011 highlights)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=scUTjPnPoQg (splash play)
Those are the top five offensive linemen in the draft. In the last few weeks, I’ve been asked about players that project to later rounds. As you can imagine, there are MANY prospects to keep track of at this time of year. It would be virtually impossible to write about 30 players at every position and still maintain a job at anything else. That being said, once I go through every position, I will double back and discuss who I think Dallas can get in later rounds at ALL positions. That scenario will have its own post so be patient with me if you please. In a related story, stay tuned to see why I have insider information on why Brandon Washington of the University of Miami (Guard) is a player from which Dallas must stay away.
Let me know what you think about these men and how Dallas should handle offensive lineman in this draft in the comments below. Also, follow me on Twitter @MrCowboy74 for some good Cowboys discussion and TLH news. Next week we will discuss WIDE RECEIVERS!