Taylor: It’s a no-brainer for Cowboys: Draft an offensive lineman at No. 9
By JEAN-JACQUES TAYLOR
The Dallas Morning News
Jerry Jones doesn’t need to make this complicated, especially since it’s not.
The only intrigue about the Cowboys’ first-round draft choice should revolve around the player’s name — not his position.
Draft a tackle in the first round — trade down if you must — but when it’s all said and done, USC’s Tyron Smith or Boston College’s Anthony Castonzo need to be the newest member of America’s Team.
They’re the top two tackles in the draft.
As you would expect, some teams like Smith; others prefer Castonzo. As long as one of them is wearing a blue star on the side of his silver helmet next fall, it’s all good.
That’s the only smart move to make because you can get a quality defensive end in the second round but not a tackle.
The Cowboys need a tackle because Jerry has let the offensive line get old. Now, uncertainty reigns.
Smith, according to most folks who study these things, has the most upside. He’s a 20-year-old who started each of the last two seasons as USC. Though he’s still learning the nuances of the position, he’s athletic and has added 22 pounds of muscle.
If Dallas drafts him, he can start at the same position he played in college, reducing his learning curve, but every young player comes with some growing pains.
Constanzo, who started 54 games in college, is ready to play right now. He’s not quite as athletic as Smith, but he’s a quality run-blocker and would immediately represent an upgrade over Marc Colombo.
Smith would also bring some of the same type of intangibles, toughness and work ethic Colombo has provided.
This, of course, assumes Jerry is ready to end this silly practice of not taking offensive linemen in the first round of the draft.
In the 22 years Jerry has owned the Cowboys, he’s never taken a lineman in the first round.
Q. How can you replace a secondary in one year? Is Terence Newman done?
Matt Magnuson, Kansas
TAYLOR: That’s not going to happen, so you don’t have to worry about it. This much is clear: Alan Ball isn’t going to be playing safety. Maybe the Cowboys add his replacement in the draft or free agency or he’s already on the roster.
The Cowboys want to sign Gerald Sensabaugh, and he’s not a guy I see as having a lot of options, so there’s a chance he’ll return. If not, it’s not the end of the world.
The Cowboys don’t need to replace the entire secondary, but Mike Jenkins and Newman playing better would make a world of difference. Newman was OK last season, but the Cowboys are paying him to be a difference-maker. Too many times, he’s not.
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Q. They need safeties. That would help Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick. Thoughts?
Xavier Silva, Arlington
TAYLOR: They certainly need a safety, maybe two. But Jenkins and Scandrick and Newman all need to play better. Bottom line. That said, it would be nice to have a ballhawk at safety who excels in coverage. That and a pass rush would make all of the corners better.
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Q. If the judge’s ruling stands, then what happens? Will the NFL revert back to last season’s rules?
TAYLOR: Until we see what happens with the NFL’s appeal of the judge’s ruling Monday that lifted the lockout, then I wouldn’t get too excited. For now, not much has really changed. Let’s see what happens in the next few days.
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Q. What about Dallas going after Michael Huff?
TAYLOR: He would obviously represent a significant upgrade because he was one of the best safeties in the league last season with 72 tackles and three interceptions and four pass deflections.
He allowed three touchdown passes and was targeted just 33 times. These deals, however, almost always come down to money. Either Dallas will pay him what he wants or he’ll find someone who will. Until a new CBA is put in place, he’s going to be in a holding pattern.