With the draft quickly approaching, here is a position-by-position look at the Dallas Cowboys' roster and their potential needs:
On the roster: Tyron Smith (signed through 2023), La'el Collins (signed through 2019), Travis Frederick (signed through 2023), Zack Martin (signed through 2018), Cameron Fleming (signed through 2018), Joe Looney (signed through 2019), Chaz Green (signed through 2018), Marcus Martin (signed through 2018), Kadeem Edwards (signed through 2019), Jarron Jones (signed through 2019)
Analysis: The Cowboys’ line has the reputation as being one of the best, if not the best, in football. But Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick acknowledged earlier this offseason that the group needed to be better in 2017.
There have been changes. The Cowboys have swapped out line coaches, replacing Frank Pollack with Paul Alexander, who spent more than 20 years with the Cincinnati Bengals. Alexander comes with a reputation as a good teacher and a willingness to bend his scheme to his players’ strengths.
There could be change in the group if Collins moves back to left guard after spending 2017 at right tackle.
With Frederick, Smith and Martin at center, left tackle and right guard, respectively, the Cowboys have three of the best at their positions in the NFL. That’s a tremendous advantage. Collins improved at right tackle as the year went on, but the Cowboys this offseason signed Cameron Fleming, who started down the stretch at right tackle for the New England Patriots.
The Cowboys want to play their best five linemen, meaning La'el Collins could swing back inside, which would help with pass protection.
Smith needs to return to health after missing time last year with groin and knee injuries. He has had a chronic back issue the last two years but told the team’s web site he feels as good as he has felt in years with how he has trained in the offseason.
The Cowboys like to keep eight offensive linemen on the 53-man roster and dress seven on game day. They have Joe Looney and Chaz Green available in their backup roles and also signed Marcus Martin as a free agent. Kadeem Edwards and Jarron Jones remain developmental candidates.
Draft need: While it might seem like the Cowboys have their group set after filling holes in free agency (Fleming, Martin, Looney), that doesn’t mean they won’t look at the position in the draft.
Is it possible to rule out the Cowboys taking a fourth offensive lineman with a first-round pick, joining Smith, Frederick and Martin? No, but Jerry Jones has said that it would be too much financial allocation at the position, especially with Martin likely cashing in on a new deal before the season.
Still, the Cowboys had tackles Mike McGlinchey and Kolton Miller in for pre-draft visits, and they are viewed as first-round picks by most. If either is selected, they would be viewed as a Day 1 starter.
Alexander’s history in Cincinnati suggests the Cowboys will focus on big-school targets in the draft. The Cowboys' four returning starters went to Southern Cal, LSU, Wisconsin and Notre Dame, so that fits the team’s philosophy too.
If there is a need, it is finding a swing tackle who has starter potential down the road, with Collins signed through 2019 and the lack of success Green and Byron Bell had at the spot in 2017.
Prediction: The Cowboys won’t take an offensive lineman at No. 19. If they are stuck with that proposition, the bet is they would look to trade down and acquire picks, but that would require a team being willing to move up. But the Cowboys will draft at least one offensive lineman. They have gone two straight drafts without taking.