We obviously heard a lot about Terence Steele last year. But, with all the talk about finding Tyron's replacement high in this draft, it leads me to wonder. I thought that Brandon Knight actually did somewhat well in Tyron's absence the last couple of years. Am I off base with this? Shouldn't we be talking a little more about Knight as swing tackle because we can't have an all-star at every position? — DAVID EWING / ARLINGTON, TX
Nick: Why not both? You can draft an offensive tackle. You can get Tyron and La'el back. And I still want both Steele and Knight on the team competing for a spot during camp. Knight has some position flex to play some guard. I would imagine there's a split between the group of coaches, scouts and front office personnel. I would bet some people prefer Steele while others might like Knight. Either way, they had their share of good and bad moments. But if everyone comes back, it's nice to have some experienced, young depth on the roster.
Rob: You're right, this is going to be a tough year to have a lot of money invested in a backup tackle. If Cam Erving isn't re-signed, yeah, Knight might be their best in-house option at the moment. He had some tough moments this season but he battled. Unless the Cowboys spend an early draft pick on a swing tackle -- defense is a much higher priority, in opinion — it's hard to see a rookie stepping in right away as an upgrade. It's a tough position to find and develop, in part because of how the college game has evolved. That's probably one reason why they invested in quality snaps for Terence Steele as a rookie.
I have read how important the free safety position is in Dan Quinn's scheme. Which route do you think the team will take to find the starting free safety - free agency, draft, or someone already on the roster? I would love to see them make a run at Justin Simmons. — H. MELVIN / OCEAN CITY, NJ
Nick: I just doubt they're going to have enough money to compete with other teams for top free agents. It's never been their philosophy when they actually had more money. So I can't see that happening. I can see a shift on the draft philosophy. Let's not forget it took a coach convincing the War Room not to take Juan Thornhill because it would affect Xavier Woods' development. That was in the second round. So I don't think the Cowboys would hesitate drafting one in the second, but probably not in the first round. My hope would be to draft a safety relatively high to pair with Wilson. Maybe you can get a veteran safety on the cheap and hope he can play well.
Rob: Until we get more clarification about this year's salary cap level, I would lean toward the draft. If Xavier Woods doesn't re-sign, it's possible the Cowboys sign a potential replacement in free agency, though it's hard to see them spending big because that's not their typical strategy. Then again, all teams are facing tighter budgets this year. I do agree that a free safety with range is important in this scheme. Right now, Donovan Wilson is the likely starter at strong safety based on his physical play in 2020.