Taylor: Keep it simple, Jerry – draft an offensive lineman at No. 9
By JEAN-JACQUES TAYLOR
The Dallas Morning News
This is the year to keep it simple.
All you have to do is draft the best offensive lineman available – USC’s Tyron Smith – with the ninth pick of the first round to solidify the offensive line.
That’s the smart thing to do.
Jerry shouldn’t even think about trading down. Don’t even listen to any offers. Do you hear me, Jerry?
The Cowboys need a tackle. At No. 9, you can pick the one you want – not the one who falls to you. This is a rare opportunity of good luck.
The Cowboys’ needs and their draft board should be in complete harmony, making the selection of Smith pretty easy.
One of the reasons the Cowboys’ offensive line failed to move defensive linemen in key situations last season is that they’re an old group. Only Doug Free is in his 20s. Even top backup Montrae Holland is 30.
It’s a lot to ask guys that age to withstand the rigors of an NFL season. The Cowboys’ line is old, in part, because Jerry hasn’t spent many premium picks fortifying it.
During the Jones regime, the Cowboys have never drafted an offensive lineman in the first round. Since 2000, the Cowboys have drafted 14 offensive linemen, but only three in the first two rounds.
They’ve drafted twice as many linemen in Rounds 6 and 7 – three each – as they have in the first two rounds of the draft.
You would think that would encourage Jerry to draft more linemen with premium picks, but it hasn’t. Four of the top five offensive linemen in the draft have visited the Cowboys.
Finally, Jerry appears to be making a smart move.
Q: How is Doug Free a steal in the draft when we are going to have to pay him millions of dollars? Was he a steal when he was sitting on the bench not playing?
TAYLOR: That’s wrong on so many levels, I’m not really sure how to address it. First, I don’t know who said Free was the steal of the draft, but it’s pretty evident that he’s the Cowboys’ best offensive lineman. As a fourth-round pick from Northern Illinois, there was clearly a transition to the NFL. But he was excellent last season playing for about $425,000 at a position where the best players make eight digits. He has earned his big payday. Maybe he sat on the bench so long because this coaching staff, as usual, didn’t want to play a young guy until an injury forced their hand.
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Q: Given the number of illegal activities engaged in by various Cowboys during the lockout, is Jason Garrett going to be spending a lot of his time as cop instead of coach?
Sanford G. Thatcher, Frisco, Texas
TAYLOR: Brian McCann was arrested for public intoxication. Dez Bryant was sued by a couple. None of that, in the big picture, sounds too serious. None of that compared with the Cowboys of the early 90s is a big deal.
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Q: Please talk about why we would be stupid to pass on Heisman-winning RB Mark Ingram and how we can get an OL later in the draft.
Michael Matern, Dallas
TAYLOR: I don’t know what mock drafts you’ve been studying, but if you don’t take a tackle in the first round, then you’re not going to get one worth having. You’ve already got Felix Jones , Tashard Choice and, for now, Marion Barber. Mark Ingram is a good running back. If folks thought he was truly the second coming of Emmitt Smith, he would be gone in the top five. The need for tackle is far greater and Tyron Smith, right now, rates as a better player.
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Q: What’s the chance of us trading down out of the No. 9 position and taking Florida center Mike Pouncey?
Patrick Young, Glenn Heights, Texas
TAYLOR: I never understand this logic, but you’re not the first person to mention it. Why would you trade the rights to the ninth player in the draft to select the 18th-best player in the draft? Makes no sense. Plus, he’s an interior lineman in a league where tackles rule. Now, if Dallas wants to trade a No. 1 from next year for Pouncey and grab him, too, then I’m all for that.
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Q: Is Stephen Jones the only person in the Cowboys organization who has influence over his father?
Reginald Smith, Dallas
TAYLOR: He has more influence than anyone else. I think Jason Garrett is high on the list, too. Jason is a smart guy, and I think Jerry truly respects him. That respect is the reason Jason really has a chance to succeed here. The key to winning in Dallas is being able to tell Jerry, “No. We don’t need to do it that way.”
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Q: The first three picks need to address the offensive and defensive lines. Thoughts?
Ladi Ball, Union City, Calif.
TAYLOR: I don’t think it’s as easy as that. They have holes in those spots, but the Cowboys really need to take the best player available. If you draft linemen who can’t play – Robert Brewster and James Marten come to mind – then you haven’t really helped the team.