Where Draft Day Attention Centered On

FRISCO, Texas – Now everyone should understand what positions the Cowboys have prioritized in this NFL Draft.

Maybe also free agency when it comes to spending the salary cap money.

That is, after they’ve taken over the quarterback position.

After taking care of the cornerback position.

Maybe even after taking care of the running back position and supporting the defensive end.

And unbeknownst to these fake redditors, that top priority certainly isn’t a real guard, because many have been hanging on, and if it was, the Cowboy would definitely have been looking to trade for one of these guys. who were long gone.

They weren’t totally desperate for an offensive tackle that could only play an offensive tackle, otherwise they could have traded for one of those four taken from the top 19 picks.

They certainly didn’t think that spending the draft capital necessary to climb high enough to catch one of those six wide receivers taken from the top 18 picks.

And the Cowboys certainly weren’t enamored enough with the strongly predicted idea of ​​taking the lone center slated for the first round who was undersized and with no positional flex to possibly play guard.

So here’s what it all means.

They’re still confident that Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith is stepping on the tire, but maybe that’s diminishing his 12th NFL season and Terrence Steel being able to handle the right tackle position. But then we already knew that, otherwise they wouldn’t have released starter La’el Collins and soaked up nearly $14 million in dead money spread over those next two seasons.

They realize that there are other ways to strengthen the guard position than to spend another first-round pick and more salary cap funds than they already have on Zack Martin, and that doing so other side might be a bit extravagant.

They reinforced the wide receiver, defensive end and cornerback positions well after the first, using the second they made on Sam Williams, the third they made on their steal of the draft, Jalen Tolbert, and fifth on corner DeRon Bland.

And unless they have something unfamiliar up their sleeve, the Cowboys’ front office and coaching staff have faith in Tyler Biadasz to capably hold the starting center job, dismissing that spreading notion. quickly that the 2020 fourth-round pick they traded from fifth to back in the fourth round to select with the 146th pick is a liability.

And here’s what to remember when analyzing Biadasz, Wisconsin’s Rimington Award winner in the 2019 season.

Preparation for his 2020 rookie season has been compromised by COVID precautions. No work out of season. Zoom meetings. No OTA. No mini camp. Shortened training camp with shortened work. No pre-season.

In my opinion, if equipped with a normal offseason, Biadasz would have beaten veteran Joe Looney for the starting position following the March retirement of Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick this 2020 season. And to that, equipped with only three substitute games his rookie season, Biradasz had to step in the minute Looney injured his knee in the second snap of Game 4, taking the starting center position for five straight games. , remaining there even after Looney became healthy. That is, until he suffered a hamstring strain in Game 9 warm-ups, landing himself on IR and missing the next four games and two more he didn’t play in. once active.

Cowboys still in contention for a playoff berth with Looney back at center and still hot on the heels of eventual NFC champion East Washington, decided to prioritize continuity on the stretch, staying with Looney the rest path.

Then in 2021, the Cowboys didn’t make much of an effort to re-sign free agent Looney, deciding the job would go to Biadasz.

Now, some were misled during the offseason and training camp when left guard Connor Williams started getting his hands on the ball sometimes. And while some members of the media described it as competition for the starting center job, the Cowboys were actually looking for backup center candidates to avoid having to pay a veteran free agent after leaving Looney. .

Shotgun hits in preseason games have become problematic for Williams. Additionally, Connor McGovern at the time proved unable to become a full-time solution at guard, a seventh-round pick Matt Farniok inherited transitioning from guard to center. Biadasz was always going to be the center.

Critics were quick to point out that Biadasz had trouble with Tampa Bay defensive tackles Vita Vea and Ndamukong Suh in the season opener. Well, as the season progressed, who had no problems with these two, okay. The Bucs won the Super Bowl.

Plus, let’s face it, the Cowboys scored 29 points in Game 1 and Dak Prescott, in his first game after suffering the horrific season-ending ankle injury in Game 5 of 2020, somehow threw for 403 yards in his first game. back, matching Tom Brady basically throwing to throw, only for the Cowboys to lose, 31-29 on the Bucs’ field goal run that started with just 1:24 left in the game.

As the season progressed and the Cowboys began to struggle to direct the ball, far too much blame landed on center. The entire offensive line struggled. But don’t forget that the offense led the NFL in total yards, and with the help of nine touchdown returns, the Cowboys led the NFL in scoring.

And you could tell at the post-draft press conference, the Cowboys’ testy responses when faced with questions about the center position and not choosing to address the position further in the draft that they were happy with Biadasz in the center.

“It’s hard for me, personally, to take a center that can be knocked down,” said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, a veiled reference to Wisconsin center Tyler Linderbaum, the top-rated center in the draft who went to Baltimore. with the next first-round pick after the Cowboys taking OT/OG Tyler Smith but just 6-1, 296.

Biadasz is 6-4, 315. Additionally, he is only entering his third season, just his second as a full-time starter. Truth be told, 1989 third-round pick Mark Stepnoski, who transitioned from college guard to center, didn’t become the Pro Bowl center we knew until 1992.

“I understand the range and I understand going to the second tier and I understand the importance of the center to call,” Jones said. “It’s fair (my opinion]) but it’s really difficult if that center can’t be interchangeable and be a good goalkeeper, which takes a lot of base. It’s difficult for me to go with that with the composition of our Obviously, a prospect that could be both a center and a guard appeals to me more.

“Someone here asked the question, ‘Why did you abandon this center?’ “We’ve got that. We’ve got a great grassroots guy here. Obviously we had alternatives, and we did that.

And by then Cowboys vice president of player personnel Will McClay, having heard enough, feeling the Cowboys were being questioned for not drafting Linderbaum, quipped: “I was just wondering who the best center?”

And even when the third round rolled around, the Cowboys certainly didn’t feel the need to move all the way to the first pick to select the next drafted center, Luke Fortner of Kentucky by Baltimore. They were more than happy to tackle another priority position, wide receiver, with Tolbert.

Don’t get me wrong, the Cowboys aren’t downplaying center position. Nor me. It’s just that they are comfortable with Biadasz as a starting center. And now they are in the same position as last year this time around. Who is the rescue center? This seems to be the most relevant question. Is it still Farniok? Maybe bring in a veteran free agent who can play center and guard, especially an important double on your limited gameday roster? Would they try McGovern again?

But it’s clear the Cowboys have their focus on draft day.

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