Cowboys address biggest need first in new seven-round mock 2.0

Patrick Surtain II, Alabama Crimson Tide, (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Patrick Surtain II, Alabama Crimson Tide, (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /
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Alex Leatherwood, Alabama Crimson Tide
Alex Leatherwood, Alabama Crimson Tide, (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /

Round 2, Pick 44, Alex Leatherwood, OL- Alabama

The Dallas Cowboys have boasted one of the best offensive lines in the NFL for much of the past decade. That unit was mostly built through the draft with players like left tackle Tyron Smith, guard Zack Martin, and center Travis Frederick. The three became some of the best picks the team has made over the past decade.

However, a combination of injuries and the surprise retirement of Frederick before the 2020 season resulted in the unit becoming a weakness for the team last year. The unit gave up a whopping 43 sacks last season while also struggling to open up holes in the running game.

Some of those problems will hopefully go away with the return of Smith and right tackle La’el Collins, both of whom saw their seasons cut short with season-ending injuries. However, the 30-year old Smith has struggled with a myriad of injuries over the past couple of years that have prevented the seven-time Pro Bowler from playing more than 13 games in a season since 2015.

Those concerns are coupled with the fact that the team could use an upgrade at both the left guard and center positions. Currently, those positions are projected to be held by Connor Williams (LG) and Tyler Biadasz (C).

Williams has been spotty since being drafted in the second round by Dallas back in 2018 while Biadasz, a fourth-round draft pick of the team back in 2020, only managed to start four games in his rookie year for America’s Team.

Both players are far from rock-solid options at their respective positions, though Biadasz did show some promise in his limited snaps last season. This means that the Cowboys will head into the draft needing to both find a successor to Smith and wanting to potentially upgrade the interior of their offensive line. Luckily, the team can address both of these needs by selecting Alabama tackle Alex Leatherwood with the 44th overall pick.

The 6-foot-6, 312-pound lineman was a key part of the menacing offensive line that helped Alabama on its run to a National Championship last year. Over the past two seasons, he played 1,584 snaps with the Crimson Tide while only allowing four sacks and six quarterback hurries.

The 22-year old also demonstrated his versatility during his collegiate career when Alabama moved him inside to play right guard during his sophomore season. The 2020 John Outland Trophy award winner (most outstanding offensive lineman) was receiving potential first-round buzz as recently as last year, but he has a good chance of falling to Dallas in a draft class that is stacked with talent at the position.

The Dallas Cowboys address one of their biggest needs on the offensive side of the ball here while also sticking with the theme of selecting players from the reigning college football National Champions. Leatherwoods’ versatility is a big selling point for Dallas here as the team could simply slide him inside to play guard until Smith is ready to retire.