Dane Brugler gives Cowboys Tyron Smith protection in 2-round mock draft

Tony Thompson
·3 min read

There’s room for optimism moving forward for the Dallas Cowboys. The disaster that was the 2020 campaign can largely be pinned on a rash of injuries not seen around the Metroplex in some time. To believe that the same kind of bad injury luck won’t rear its ugly head going forward would is fair, but not preparing for the worst would be foolish. This means there will be tough decisions for the front office come April’s NFL Draft.

The prevailing thought is that the Cowboys need to draft defense early and often. There’s no doubt that’s where the team has suffered the most over the years, but The Athletic’s Dane Brugler has another position in mind in his Mock Draft 2.0. With pick No. 10, Dallas selects:

Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
Many fans will disapprove of any pick that isn’t a defensive player, but the Cowboys’ offensive line woes were a constant theme all season. Not only does Slater have NFL-ready talent, he offers the versatility to play tackle or guard, giving the Cowboys much-needed flexibility.

The elephant in the room here is the status of Tyron Smith, perhaps the oldest 30-year-old on the planet. From 2016-2019 he missed three games a season. Last year he played in only two and underwent neck surgery. There’s been a growing undercurrent of concern throughout the season that Smith could hang it up for good. He wouldn’t be the first Cowboys player to retire unexpectedly, but even if he’s able to play the majority of the year, it’s not the worst idea to have a backup plan as talented as Slater ready to go.

Players still on the board at the time are tight end Kyle Pitts out of Florida and cornerback Patrick Surtain II out of Alabama. The age old question of best player available vs. need will be on full display for Dallas in the first round come April. In the second round, Brugler has the Cowboys addressing a hole in the defense that’s existed for nearly two decade.

44. Dallas Cowboys — Trevon Moehrig, FS, TCU
The last time the Cowboys drafted a safety in the first two rounds was when they took Roy Williams in 2002, so Moehrig would go counter to the organization’s drafting history. But he would give Dallas a much-needed upgrade over free safety Xavier Woods.

Adding a safety with a top-50 pick seems like a pipe dream. One would be hard pressed to find another team that’s ignored a position as badly as the Cowboys have ignored free safety. For years it’s been a potpourri of mediocre free agents and mid-to-late-round draft picks manning the spot. This pick is almost too good to be true.

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