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Mailbag: Is O-Line priority at center or left tackle?


Whether it be through free agency or the draft, which position on the offensive line do you think should be the Cowboys' priority this offseason as far as making sure they are set and in good hands, center or left tackle? Why? – Martin Reynolds/Houston, TX

Nick Eatman: They're going to address both positions. Like with any year, you look at your best option in free agency and the draft. What happens with Tyron Smith will obviously change some of the approach but even if he were to come back, taking a left tackle in the draft - even in the first round - should be considered. Whether Tyron has played his last snap in Dallas, or has one year or even two years left, it has to be on the table to take a left tackle of the future. Or maybe it's a left guard and Tyler Smith kicks out to tackle. One way or another the O-line will be addressed in a lot of ways. I think T.J. Bass and Brock Hoffman are considered as depth pieces that might turn into more than that. But every position has players like that. It's good to have but you still must draft accordingly. You can't just count on the development of young players, especially the ones undrafted. If they hit, then it's a bonus. I think the answer is positions will be tackled in the next two months.

Patrik: Both should honestly be attacked with the same level of urgency, considering the recent news of Tyron Smith testing the market with the possibility of playing for a different NFL team for the first time in his Hall of Fame career. That means left tackle becomes, potentially, a dire need if factoring in the team's refusal to move Tyler Smith to that role when the elder Smith was injured in 2023. At center, well, should Tyler Biadasz fail to agree to a new deal, things are equally as uncertain. Brock Hoffman might present an answer, but we don't know that for sure yet, and that makes two starting spots on the most important unit in football (the O-line) having huge voids to fill. But if I absolutely have to choose one as a higher priority, it'll be center, because games are won and lost in this league based upon pressure being allowed (or not allowed) up the middle. I don't love the idea of worrying about Dak Prescott's blindside, at all, but not knowing who'll snap him the ball and protect his front side is a little more terrifying to me — so a premium pick in the NFL Draft at both positions, to be honest, is warranted this offseason.

Nick Harris: I'm going with left tackle here. My reasoning is a bigger lack of depth at that position than at center. At center, you have two young guns ready to take on a starting opportunity in Brock Hoffman and T.J. Bass, and while that may not be the ideal scenario, it's far better than drafting a top center and leaving the starting left tackle job to the guys in the room right now. Additionally, with the tackle class as deep as it is this year in the draft, getting an elite one at pick No. 24 is very reasonable. If you're left with one or the other, draft the tackle and hope that one of the young guys can plug in at center.

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