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Point: If First-Round Pick Is Offense, Has To Be O-Line Only


This time of year, nobody wants to be pigeonholed in the draft, especially if you're sitting right in the middle of the first round like the Cowboys are at No. 16.

And when Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones or Jason Garrett vaguely speak of their draft position and stance, they'll tell us about taking the best available player. That will happen this year – it will happen every year.

But I think we all know this team has to get better defensively. And it's more than just adding a few free agent defensive linemen. This defense was the worst unit in the NFL last year and by far the worst in franchise history.

I can't imagine the Cowboys not finding someone – anyone – on the defensive side of the ball at No. 16. Defensive end is a need. Defensive tackle is a need, especially in terms of getting younger. Linebacker is even a need considering the position's recent injury history. Safety has been a need since Darren Woodson retired and cornerback, even though it doesn't seem to be pressing, is always a need because you can't have enough quality cover guys.

Somebody at No. 16 is going to be there that can help this defense.

But, and there's always a but, if the Cowboys don't go defense with No. 16, the only position I can somewhat understand would be the offensive line.

That's it. Nothing else. Not a receiver who is really good but falls to No. 16. Not a quarterback either. And yeah, I'm including him, too. Him being Johnny Manziel. If he falls to No. 16 I get on the phone and find the very best deal from a team who really wants him right now.

But offensive line? Hmm, that's hard to pass up because just think what kind of team you'd be building. You've got a young left tackle who is coming off a Pro Bowl season in Tyron Smith. He seems set for years, although they will have to sign him to an extension before next March. But that's going to happen. [embedded_ad]

Center Travis Frederick was a good pick last year and he made the running game instantly better. Ron Leary learned on the run last year and should be a much better player in 2014. I still think Mackenzy Bernadeau and Doug Free are good pieces to the puzzle for this season, but neither player – and we could add Leary in this group as well – is good enough to keep from drafting draft someone in the first round.

If a guy like Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan is there at No. 16, how can you not consider it? He can play right tackle opposite Tyron Smith for a long time. And if his character concerns are a big issue, don't forget that his mean streak can be a good thing. Marc Colombo made it work to his advantage for years.

Notre Dame's Zach Martin, who is a guard/tackle prospect, could be a very good fit at No. 16. Here's a player who could come right in and play guard, either for Leary or Bernadeau, and then eventually slide out to right tackle if or when Free is no longer with the club.

I could see the Cowboys taking an offensive linemen at No. 16 to continue this revamping of the offensive line. If they did that, it would justify not taking defense.

But to me, that's it. Your receivers are all pretty young and talented. You can get what you need there in the middle rounds. There isn't a running back worthy of a first-round pick, and even so, it wouldn't make sense to draft one right now.

Tight end? No. Quarterback? No thanks.

Offensive line is the only position I could envision the Cowboys taking someone who won't help this defense, which needs all kinds of help.

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