After losing La'el Collins, Connor Williams and Randy Gregory in free agency, could we be looking at three nice compensatory picks? When figuring out compensatory picks, does the NFL look at the season each player had before they were signed by another team, or the performance after they were signed? — COLLIN CLARK / PLANO, TX
Rob: A lot to cover here. First, Collins doesn't factor into the formula because he didn't leave in free agency — the Cowboys released him. The key departures are Randy Gregory (Broncos), Connor Williams (Dolphins) and Cedrick Wilson (Dolphins) — and for what it's worth, NFL.com recently predicted three comp picks for Dallas. The formula is clear as mud by design — the league doesn't disclose its exact formula — but it's based on a variety of factors including salary, playing time and postseason honors. I'm not 100% sure how much next season's performance factors into the formula, but I would guess that Gregory's $70 million deal with Denver leads to a third- or fourth-round comp pick.
Kyle: It's not a completely public and perfect science when predicting the NFL's decisions surrounding upcoming compensatory picks, but we do have a good idea. When they award these selections, they look at three things. The player's salary, their snap count from the season prior, and any postseason awards they might have won. These picks can also be offset by adding key free agents in a certain offseason, which this year's case, there weren't any. Based on these factors, I believe Dallas would receive three picks in next year's draft. From Randy Gregory (most likely a fourth-round pick), Connor Williams (sixth round), and Cedrick Wilson (sixth round). La'el Collins would have netted a pick in year's past, but they don't look at a player's entire body of work.
I'm reading a lot of reports on Tyler Smith taking reps at left tackle and left guard, and many state that he's looked impressive, albeit without pads_on. At what point is it a developmental risk to have him learning two positions in his first offseason? Isn't the transition from college to pro big enough already? — THEO COLLINS
Rob: Mike McCarthy was asked that question during OTAs and acknowledged that the staff wants to make sure they don't "hold up progress" for Smith by playing him at two spots right now. Clearly they think he can handle it, sort of like Micah Parsons did last year lining up all over the place in practice. So far, it seems like Smith might be a better fit at guard — which is good, because there's a starting job open — but he also might be the best backup option for Tyron Smith. That's a very important role in itself given Tyron's injury history. Tyler's transition should be helped by practicing exclusively on the left side (guard and tackle).
Kyle: There may be some element of risk to it, just because he is having to develop footwork and technique at both positions. However, there are two major factors that come to mind surrounding Tyler Smith's specific situation. First, he's earning more reps, and with multiple sets of teammates, than he would by just running with the first team as a guard. Which helps with the second point. He's most likely going to play both guard and tackle at some point this season, and the coaching staff is preparing for that. Without a true swing tackle in the rotation, I wouldn't be surprised if Smith is both the starting right guard and backup left tackle should Tyron Smith miss more time.