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The Debate On Taking A First-Round Guard

IRVING, Texas --The Cowboys ended a 30-year drought last year when they selected offensive tackle Tyron Smith in the first round.

So, after seeing so many (very) early mocks taking Stanford's David DeCastro at No. 14, why not a guard this year?

Among our early offseason talking points on Talkin' Cowboys, Mickey says he absolutely wouldn't take an interior lineman that high. First-round guard/centers aren't all that common, and there's a belief that teams can find them later. It's just not considered a primo position like tackle, which requires blocking the league's best pass rushers.

I mostly agree, especially with so many needs on defense. Odds are a free agent like Carl Nicks would have a much greater impact right away. But how many times do you want to commit tens of millions to veterans like Marco Rivera and Leonard Davis?

It all depends on how highly you view a college prospect. Worked out pretty well for the Steelers and Maurkice Pouncey, right?

The Cowboys have to decide how much they like, say, DeCastro, who might be the only interior lineman worthy of a mid-first round pick. But if there's a guard in the first round (or even second round) they deem to be a future 10-year starter like Smith -- especially a guy who's versatile enough to play some center, too -- they have to give it serious thought.

He'd have to be able to play (and play well) right away like Smith did, though. Can't redshirt him like 2011 fourth-rounder David Arkin.

My point is this: to find an elite replacement on the line, sometimes you have to be willing to gamble with a high draft pick. That might not apply with this particular class, but there's no doubt interior line is an area for improvement.

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