Dallas Cowboys: 5 first-round draft targets for 2021

Dallas Cowboys. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Dallas Cowboys. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /
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Rashawn Slater, Northwestern Wildcats
Rashawn Slater #70 of the Northwestern Wildcats (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

Rashawn Slater, OL – Northwestern

Some may question why the Cowboys would use their first-round pick on an offensive lineman, with the likes of Tyron Smith, La’el Collins, and Zack Martin under contract. But, the fact of the matter is that Smith gets injured, a lot.

The 30-year old Smith hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2015. He’s missed a total of 26 games over the past five years, including 14 games in 2020 due to a neck injury.

We’ve seen in the past what happens when the Cowboys lose Smith. I need not remind fans of that dreaded 6.0 sack game from Atlanta Falcons’ pass rusher, Adrian Clayborn, a few years back.

Taking Slater gives the Cowboys options on the offensive line as he is versatile enough to play both tackle and guard. While he was a 2020 opt-out, but in 2019 he successfully faced off against last year’s second overall selection in the draft, Washington’s Chase Young.

Slater’s body of work is what will make him a top of the first-round selection. He could even give Oregan offensive tackle, Penei Sewell, a run at being the first offensive lineman drafted in April.

Here’s what Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network wrote about Slater’s skillset.

"“Slater has tremendous cutoff abilities and clean, patient footwork working space and the necessary functional strength to hold his own on the interior. The position flexibility he offers ensures he can be a part of any NFL offensive line’s combination of best five players to start up front from Day 1.”"

The Cowboys’ offensive line has been a big reason for their past successes. And while I know this would not be the sexy pick for Dallas, Slater would be a staple on the O-line for years to come.