The Cowboys toughest free agent loss to fill in the 2024 NFL draft

To say the 2024 free agency period has been a tough one for Cowboys fans is a bit of an understatement. Dallas took their usual approach to the annual swap meet, letting the high-ticket items sort themselves out and waiting for the bargains to slip through the cracks and into their waiting arms.

The Cowboys came to terms with a handful of their own free agents, locking up RB Rico Dowdle, CB Jourdan Lewis, special teamers C.J. Goodwin and Trent Sieg. They even signed an outside free agent in LB Eric Kendricks to a reasonable deal. Yet all of these signings pale in comparison to their losses. It’s clear the Cowboys have a net loss in talent on their roster and will need the draft if they hope to climb out of the hole free agency has put them in.

Since not all positions are created equal and some solutions are easier to find in the draft than others, strategy will need to be employed if the Cowboys hope to build a contender in 2024. In the strategy sessions leading up to the draft, Dallas would be wise to identify the hardest positions to fill and prioritize accordingly.

But what position is hardest? Which free agent loss will be the most difficult to fill in the 2024 NFL draft?

The free agent departure who signed for the most APY and highest guaranteed happens to Dorance Armstrong. The Cowboys rotational DE played a big part on Dan Quinn’s defense in 2023 so it’s understandable Quinn took the young man with him to Washington. Joining Armstrong in the move to our nation’s capital is DE Dante Fowler. The two players combine to leave behind a significant hole at DE, making it an underrated need in Dallas this offseason.

Dallas’ leading rusher Tony Pollard followed the money out of town, leaving the Cowboys in a tough situation at the RB position. But RBs, much like LBs, can be found all over the draft so replacing Pollard should be a relatively doable task, provided the Cowboys do their individual scouting well.

The OC position is another spot which sustained a significant loss in free agency. But options are everywhere throughout the draft and the OC position is a spot where Dallas could tread water with even below average play.

The one position they can’t fake it is the position tasked with protecting Dak Prescott’s blind side. LT, vacated by Tyron Smith in free agency, is the most important position , and the hardest, to fill in the draft. Premium LTs are typically only found in the first round so the Cowboys can’t afford to miss out with their top pick this April.

Helping the Cowboys in this difficult task is the presence of Tyler Smith. Smith has LT ability and the Cowboys have expressed a willingness to use him at LT if they need to in 2024.

With Smith on the roster, Dallas wouldn’t be required to draft a plug-and-play LT because Smith could man the post in the short-term. It would allow the Cowboys to draft someone like Amarius Mims or Tyler Guyton who are more developmental in nature, but still require first-round investment.

The Cowboys sure didn’t make things easy for themselves this offseason but if they prioritize correctly, they should be able to fill many of their needs in the draft.

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Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire