SportsDay insiders Brandon George and Jon Machota bring you the latest on the Dallas Cowboys in this episode of Candidly Cowboys.
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The following is an excerpt from the episode, which focuses on the upcoming NFL draft. It features a special guest appearance by CBSSports.com draft expert Dane Brugler, who joined Machota in Indianapolis after the combine was over.
A pass rusher to watch for …
Jon Machota: “Just from a Cowboys standpoint, picking late in the first round, different than last year, what players stand out to you that you think might be a potential fit, that could still be on the board at (No.) 28?”
Dane Brugler: “Yeah, it’s obviously different than last year, kind of like the year before, with Byron Jones. I’m not sure the Cowboys expected Byron Jones to be there, but that’s kind of the intrigue of picking later in the first round, is you never know how those first 27 picks are going to go. But I think realistically speaking, who might be there for Dallas at 28: Takk McKinley continues to be an interesting name, and he talked (at the combine) — talked about how he (was) going to have surgery (March 6), and he’s going to probably be out four to six months; revealed that he’s been playing through this injury, this labrum injury, the past two seasons. (It) happened during the 2015 season and, you know, he just kind of shrugged it off, told UCLA trainers, ‘Tape ’em up. I’m ready to go.’ Went out, had a good 40 time at the combine, but the agility drills — the short shuttle, the three-cone, the change-of-direction drills — weren’t as impressive, and for a pass rusher, who, obviously, turning the corner, a guy that you want to have those sharp change-of-direction skills, didn’t really show that at the combine during the workout. So, it wasn’t a great performance for Takk McKinley — had a great 40-yard dash time, but the other ones left a little to be desired. …”
When should Dallas target a CB?
Machota: “What about on these defensive backs here? You mention, like, what they did with Byron Jones at (27 in the 2015 draft). I feel like that’s going to be a perfect spot in what everybody seems to be talking about, when you’re around these guys and they’re being asked questions, the corners, is just how deep this class is. Is that true? Is it a really deep class, and is there an ideal fit for the Cowboys, possibly at 28, somebody that might still be there?”
Brugler: “Yeah, it is a deep class, and I think there’s going to be a lot of intrigue to see how these guys (come off the board), the order they come off the board, how early. There’s going to be corners that, normally, you would think of as top-50, top-75 guys that are still going to be available in the third, fourth round. And so, that reason alone might be one to say, ‘Hey, we can pass on a corner here in the first round and wait until the second or third round to get our guy, knowing the depth of this class.’ There’s only so many picks, only so many of them can go in the first 50 or 75 picks. So, for the Cowboys, picking later in each round — later in the second, later in the third — that might be the sweet spot to get them. But if they are looking at one in the first round, I think we expect (Ohio State’s) Marshon Lattimore to be off the board at that point. (Florida’s) Teez Tabor, he’s not going to be for everyone; he could possibly be an option. Like I said, I think the depth of this class might make you lean towards a pass rusher in the first round, wait to get to your corner until the second or third round.”
In addition to their pass rush and secondary needs, the Cowboys may now have another big one to address in next month’s draft: offensive tackle.
Starting right tackle Doug Free intends to retire, SportsDay’s David Moore reported Saturday, which would leave a big hole to fill on the Cowboys’ stellar line. With La’el Collins likely to stay at guard — filling the hole left by Ronald Leary, who signed a four-year with Denver in free agency — Brugler, Machota and George all weighed in on the Cowboys’ new issue at right tackle:
So is offensive tackle now a draft necessity? The answer, for now, seems to be a resounding “yes.”