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NFL Draft options for Cowboys: Time to bolster the offensive line?

After being a strength for years, the offensive line has become a position of need for the Dallas Cowboys ahead of the NFL Draft.

DALLAS — The NFL Draft is approaching, and the Dallas Cowboys’ offseason has left them with a few glaring holes that need addressing. Currently owning the 24th pick in the first round, the Cowboys likely have their sights set on a few positions, which they have telegraphed by their offseason moves.

The offensive line is one of the places where Dallas is in increasing need of help. Each of the positions along the line could use an upgrade, which means the team could draft a center, guard, or tackle and improve the overall unit. 

The Cowboys have been very good at selecting offensive linemen in the first round in recent history, and the hope is that the trend continues if they go that route. Left tackle Tyron Smith (2011), center Travis Frederick (2013) and guard Zach Martin (2014) were all home run selections in the first round. 

If Dallas waits until the second round or third round to address the offensive trenches, they haven’t been as successful in recent years.

With that in mind, here are the top five offensive line options for the Cowboys with the 24th pick overall:

Kenyon Green, (OG) Texas A&M

Green is one of the most versatile options for the Cowboys as he has experience at tackle and played both guard positions in college. If Dallas lands Green, he would slot into the left guard position and would help solidify a spot on the line vacated by Connor Williams. A major plus for Green is his ability to provide the flexibility to play tackle if needed.

Standing at 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighing 325 pounds, Green has incredible power and the athleticism of someone smaller. Green routinely moves defensive linemen out of the way, sustains his blocks, and has the speed to get to the second level with ease.

Green was among the 30 pre-draft visiting prospects for the Cowboys and would make a great fit.

Zion Johnson, (OG) Boston College

Johnson is another versatile offensive lineman who lined up at guard and tackle in college. He might not have the size that Green does, but with 33 7/8-inch arms and at 314 pounds, Johnson has the power to keep defenders away with his reach and the athletic ability to win in space against smaller players. 

Johnson’s best work is in the running game, but he continues to improve as a pass protector. Like Green, Johnson would likely fit right in at left guard with the Cowboys. A tandem of Johnson next to Smith at left tackle would be an imposing sight for defenses.

Tyler Linderbaum, (C) Iowa 

The Cowboys have an adequate starting center in Tyler Biadasz, who has gotten better in his first two seasons in the league, but Linderbaum would be an upgrade. Linderbaum is the best center in the draft and his work during Iowa’s 2021 season made him one of the best offensive linemen in the country, as well as the highest graded player in college football.

Linderbaum has the technical ability and athleticism to excel, a strong initial punch and the smarts to be one of the top centers in the game. 

The biggest question with Linderbaum remains his weight. At just 289 pounds, Linderbaum rarely had issues dominating in college, playing with plenty of strength. If he can continue to do the same at the next level, someone is getting an exceptional prospect at center.

Cowboys fans might be dreaming of Travis Frederick part two, which would make Linderbaum an intriguing pick. 

Trevor Penning, (OT) Northern Iowa

If the Cowboys aren’t content to go into the season with third-year man Terence Steele at right tackle, then Penning could be the pick. At 6 feet 7 inches tall and 327 pounds, Penning has the size and strength to line up on either side but is ideally suited at right tackle in the NFL. Penning is strong in the running game and plays with a nasty disposition when finishing off his blocks. 

Penning’s wingspan also makes him a good pass blocker because he has the ability to lock onto defenders and the athleticism to combat speed rushers. 

Penning is considered a mid-first rounder so he’d need to slide a little to make it to the Cowboys at pick 24, but if he’s available, Penning could be a starting tackle for the next 10 years.

Tyler Smith, (OG) Tulsa

This pick would surprise – and upset – many Cowboys fans but there appears to be some interest from the team in Smith. Despite the fears that he could be a reach, Smith has been a riser on draft boards and the Fort Worth native brings versatility to the table. 

A 6-feet-6-inch, 332-pound tackle at Tulsa, Smith is expected to be a guard in the NFL where his strength in the running game is his biggest asset. Smith has shown to be a mauler as a run blocker and he will play to the whistle. There’s a toughness to Smith’s game, but he needs polish as a pass blocker and a refinement to his overall technique. Smith is a solid prospect but doesn’t have the consistency of the top possible options on the offensive line. 

If Smith is the pick, then perhaps the Cowboys will have traded out of 24 and gotten value in return. If you’re into histrionics, this selection could make Cowboys draft twitter explode.

Do you think it’s time to start rebuilding the Great Wall of Dallas with a first round pick? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.

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