Cowboys draft direction becoming clear – or is it?

SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — Last week at about this time, speculation was rampant that the Dallas Cowboys would be targeting positions like cornerback and wide receiver in the first round of next month’s NFL Draft.

But then came the likes of cornerback Stephon Gilmore via trade with the Indianapolis Colts. Days later, wide receiver Brandon Cooks came over in a trade with the Houston Texans.

So, now what?

Just before those aforementioned players were acquired by the Cowboys, I offered the idea that this year’s player selection meeting afforded Dallas the opportunity to upgrade a free-agent loss at left tackle. The departure of Connor McGovern to the Buffalo Bills is ancient history at this point, and this is the one area where the Cowboys still look pretty thin.

Now, Dallas could do absolutely anything in the 2023 NFL Draft. The Cowboys could go in the obvious direction and pick up another plug-and-play blue chip prospect at offensive guard. Or, Dallas could draft a defensive tackle, a running back, or any other prospect rated highly enough on their draft board that happens to fall into their laps.

It’s been said that the best draft strategy is to simply take the best player available. Teams are advised not to draft for need in favor of taking a better player at perhaps a less-than urgent position.

That sounds good and all, but the devil’s in the details.

The one thing you don’t do is reach for a player, as this is generally the kiss of  death, especially in the first round.

The reality is that teams are almost always trying to marry the combination of drafting the best player available at the greatest position of need.

If this is the case for the Cowboys in the upcoming draft, be looking at the distinct possibility that a premium offensive lineman could be selected early on, but likely in the first round.

Given the annual rush on quarterbacks, left tackles, edge rushers, receivers and cornerbacks in the first 15-20 selections, there is a better chance than not that Dallas is staring at the best interior offensive lineman in the draft with the 26th overall selection.

SOUTH BEND, IN – OCTOBER 23: USC Trojans offensive lineman Andrew Vorhees (72) gets setup at the line of scrimmage during a game between the USC Trojans and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on October 23, 2021 at Notre Dame Stadium, in South Bend, IN. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

If this is the direction the team goes, a player like Andrew Vorhees of USC could fit the bill after having lifted 225 pounds 38 times at the NFL Scouting Combine. That number led all players who lifted at the underwear Olympics. Vorhees not only has power in run blocking, but he also has the agility needed in pass protection. Once he gets his hands on you, you ‘re lucky if you’re still standing on two feet when the whistle blows.

O’Cyrus Torrence of Florida doesn’t quite have the power Vorhees posseses, but he is a mountain of a man who not many defensive linemen are going to be pushing around at the point of attack. He does not look as skilled as Vorhees, but there looks to be a ton of upside for Torrence, especially once he gets involved with NFL coaching and conditioning.

Of course, there are other candidates the Cowboys could target for the offensive line and they could certainly hold off on that position until the second round.

Would you hold it against Dallas if the franchise replaced the now-departed Ezekiel Elliott with Texas star running back Bijan Robinson? Or what about Georgia’s Jahmyr Gibbs?

Yes, wide receiver might still be in play with a player like Jalin Hyatt of Tennessee.

But at some point, the Cowboys have to shore up an offensive line that might only be one player away from becoming dominant once again.

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