(Editor’s Note: While the start of the 2018 NFL Draft isn’t until April 26, it’s never too early to profile some of the key participants. The staff of DallasCowboys.com intends to preview the landscape of the draft’s top prospect, with an emphasis on possible Cowboys draft picks – from the first round to the last. Today’s featured player is Pittsburgh's Brian O’Neill.)
- Name: Brian O’Neill
- Position: Offensive Tackle
- **Height/Weight: *6-6 / 298
- **Honors: *In 2017, ACC coaches and The Associated Press voted O’Neill a first-team All-ACC selection.
- *Key Stat: *ccording to the University of Pittsburgh website, O’Neill – a converted tight end – scored two career rushing touchdowns in addition to his duties as a blocker.
Where He’s Projected:
O’Neill is generally considered one of the top tackles in this year’s class. The pre-draft evaluation process is early, but some observers he could get drafted as early as the second round. Agile for a tackle, O’Neill came to Pittsburgh as a tight end but converted to tackle as a redshirt freshman and started 37 games over his final three seasons. He played on the North squad at the Senior Bowl in late January.
How He Helps The Cowboys:
Swing tackle is, without question, a spot the Cowboys must evaluate this offseason. The offense didn’t have a consistent injury replacement for Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith, who missed three games and all but one series of the Dec. 24 loss to Seattle that officially eliminated Dallas from playoff contention. The team believes Smith will bounce back healthy in 2018, and La’el Collins had a productive first season at right tackle. Behind them, Chaz Green remains under contract but struggled in the lineup. Byron Bell is set to be a free agent. O’Neill presumably will be able to step in and compete wherever he’s drafted.
- Long, thin tackle who primarily lines up on the left side.
- Outstanding athletic ability.
- In the mold of Nate Solder of the Patriots.
- Had trouble with power at the Senior Bowl but his footwork allows him to stay in position.
- Technique will struggle at times when the opponent tries to bully him. The wider you rush him, the better he plays.
- Played both sides at Senior Bowl but best on the left.
- In a thin offensive tackle draft, he fits a lot of team needs for a quality blocker early in the draft.