IRVING, Texas – The future of right tackle Doug Free is still up in the air as the Cowboys head into draft week.
The Cowboys don't want to make a quick decision on Free before seeing how the draft unfolds. It's still possible the team's next starting right tackle is an upcoming draft pick or free agent player.
"I think it's just notable that we haven't said where we are and (Free) hasn't said where he is relative to his status as we go into this draft," said owner/general manager Jerry Jones. "That's by design, and certainly we wanted to see how and what we do in the draft."
Jones said the Cowboys are looking at how drafting a tackle would impact what they'll do with Free, and he knows Free is likely looking at that as well. Even if the Cowboys don't draft a tackle, free agent tackles Eric Winston and Tyson Clabo are still available.
As many as five or six offensive linemen could be taken before the Cowboys select a player with the 18th pick in the draft. Teams are putting a premium on top-notch offensive linemen, and the Cowboys are no exception.
Tackles Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson and guards Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper could all go in the top 15 picks. It's feasible that two of those tackles are taken with the first three picks, but the Cowboys could swoop in if any of those linemen fall.
Considering the lack of top-notch skill position players, the breadth of offensive line talent and cap costs, Jones expects offensive linemen in this draft to go early and often.
"You forego the idea of getting the big skill players early," he said. "You forego that idea to actually go in there and get guys that are going to be doing the blocking for them, which traditionally have been lesser guys relative to where they're taken in the draft."