The Cowboys now have a theoretical surplus of offensive linemen, a host of theoretical trade pieces, and in the minds of some, a "wasted pick'' or two because of the UDFA signing of La’el Collins.
After all, if you have a first-round-level talent like Collins -- such an obvious "get" that even Tony Romo can't stop gushing about him -- why bother on drafting Chaz Green in the third round and Laurence Gibson in the seventh?
First things first ... let's check into Valley Ranch and let's check in on Green and stuff ...
VIDEO TAGS:Dallas Cowboys, Chaz Green, La'el Collins
Now to the issue of "excess.''
If Dallas has known that it was going to land Collins in the "eighth round,'' yeah, it's probably true that they might've found a way to take a running back instead of Green. (By the time we get to the very late rounds? That's such a dart-throw that the Cowboys had multiple shots at a runner and passed ... clearly a sign that they didn't see a back there who would be superior to what's on the roster now).
But Dallas didn't know. Couldn't have known. How do you regret dating Jessica Biel when you find out later you could've dated Jessica Alba? And to continue the analogy ... what if you are the Cowboys and you get to date ALL the Jessicas?
The priority here is protecting Romo and extending Romo's window. It's not a priority that should cloud wise moves that allow contention for the Cowboys post-Romo ... but collecting young, affordable blockers doesn't do that at all.
Romo recently said to Jerry Jones, "I plan on playing five more years. What we’re putting together here will allow me to do it.''
That obviously includes Collins, who will compete with Ron Leary at left guard for now and maybe be Doug Free's eventual heir at right tackle. But that doesn't mean Leary can't play. And assembling a "best five'' (and maybe even "the best offensive line ever'') is about competition and even about depth.
It's possible that the signing of Darren McFadden in free agency, competing with Joseph Randle for the top job, with change-of-pace back Lance Dunbar and Ryan Williams also in the picture, might not be enough. Jerry concedes that sort of thinking existed when Dallas made its decision on Green.
“We ought to keep our eyes open as we move along here,” Jones said. “We would have drafted a running back, and we would have drafted one (in the third-round if Green) had not been there at that particular level. ... We had a couple go off the board that we would have drafted earlier that surprised us a little bit.”
So you roll with Tyron Smith at left tackle, Travis Frederick at center, Zack Martin at right guard and Doug Free (right tackle) ... with Collins and Leary (left guard) fighting it out ... Green hopefully developing quickly as a viable swing tackle ... and hey, maybe Laurence Gibson can do the same.
Or maybe Green is the eventual right tackle, with Collins remaining at the guard spot where some scouting minds think he best belongs. Gil Brandt notes that in 556 snaps last season at Florida, Green didn't allow a sack and had no holding or false-start penalties. Dallas thinks it has something there, now and for the future, with injuries the only reason Green wasn't drafted higher. Green was a 2011 Freshman All-American but then the 6-5, 315-pounder missed 20 games in his four years at Florida. In 2014, however, he started all 11 games, nine at right tackle and two at left tackle.
It's May. You can't have too many anythings in May. If there is eventually a trade to be made, O-line joins tight end and linebacker as position groups other clubs might be tempted to dip into. (And yes, all of this fuels gossip of Dallas trading for a running back - a story we'll get to in the coming days.) But for now?
“We’re going to have some great competition,'' Jerry said, perfectly happy to live with the results of getting an O-lineman like Green that the Cowboys thought might be terrific and then getting another one in Collins who might be even better. "We’ve got a chance to really have our depth there.”