Who would you take for the Oline: Zack Martin The Nasty, Gabe Jackson The Mauler, or Xavier Sua-Filo The Baller? The Dallas Cowboys have a lot of work to do before the draft. They have to completely rebuild the defensive line and the rest of the defense isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t much better: with a struggling secondary, and a linebacking core that hasn’t been able to reach their potential. Not only that, but their Oline could still use an upgrade at both the RT and the OG position.
With that being said, if all the top defensive line prospects are gone by the time the Cowboys pick at 16, who would you take? Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick should be cornerstones on the Oline for the next 10 years or so, but everyone else is a question mark. Bernadeau played fairly well last season, but is only about average. Doug Free really stepped up, but he is 29 and his contract is almost up. Would you resign a player that has been inconsistent? Ronald Leary was actually the weakest link on the line last season. He also has knee issues. Would you count on him to be healthy? Even if you thought these guys played well, the interior line lacks serious depth, and it has to be drafted. So let’s see who’Â you would rather take if Zack Martin, Gabe Jackson, and Xavier Sua Filo were to last until the 16th pick?
Zack Martin: 6-4Â Â 309 lbs.
Zack Martin, outside of Taylor Lewan, has to be the nastiest OT in this year’s draft. He plays with a mean streak and a high motor. Once he gets his hands on you, it is normally game over; he plays with excellent hand placement, and plays with nice leverage. He has no problem getting to the second level, suggesting he could play in the zone blocking scheme as well as a man blocking scheme.
He is a smart player, rarely out of position, and rarely makes the same mistake twice. He is one of the most well rounded Oline prospects in the draft. He has a strong lower body. He has no injury concerns, which is something the Cowboys have dealt with since Jason Garrett became HC.
Most of the negative concerns are physical for Zack Martin. He is only 6-4 which is a bit short for an OT, right or left. He has short arms, and has the smallest hand size of any of the offensive linemen in the draft. It’s difficult to project him as an OG in the NFL.
Obviously, if selected by the Cowboys, he will probably play OG his first year, and then be kicked out to RT when Doug Free is let go. Personally, I think he compares quite favorably to Logan Mankins of the New England Patriots. He was physically limited for the Oline as well, but has since become an All Pro guard in the NFL.
Gabe Jackson: 6-3Â 331 lbs.
Can we please get the next Larry Allen? Ever since Larry Allen retired, many players have been touted as his second coming: from Steve Hutchinson, to David DeCastro, to Larry Warford. While all were or are good, none are the great Larry Allen. That is until Gabe Jackson decided to show himself to the nation.
Gabe Jackson is a flat out mauler at OG. He has long arms for the OG position as well as a broad and wide chest. He has an 82 1/8Â wingspan which is monstrous. He plays with power not seen in this year’s group of Oline prospects. He plays with a good burst. However, he is inconsistent with that burst. He can get to the second level, and has played in both man and zone blocking schemes at Mississippi State. He plays with nice leverage. He never needed help to block the 3 techs of the SEC. Unlike Larry Warford, Gabe Jackson plays with a mean streak and will bully his opposition.
The negatives are really just nitpicking. He ran a very slow number at the combine, but who cares when you can play right? His speed does come into question however, when he is blocking in space. His tape is better than his workout drills, and I trust that above all else. He will lunge when he is beaten, causing him to get off balance.
I like Gabe Jackson the best, as he will be the best OG in this class. The Cowboys took Frederick in the first round last year, despite being the slowest center in NFL history. To top it off, he played in a zone blocking scheme with the Cowboys. The Cowboys didn’ even have Warford on their board last season, and if they knock Gabe Jackson off their board this year because of a lack of speed, then there are some major inconsistencies in their scouting.
Xavier Sua’Filo: 6-4Â 307 lbs.
Xavier Sua’Filo is the best zone blocking OG in this draft. He was born to play in the Cowboys Oline scheme. He has played both OT and OG while at UCLA showing off his versatility, while also giving scouts a hint about his athleticism. He has nice core strength and an agile lower body. He has elite burst off the snap and can get to the second level with relative ease. He is also quite smart and very dependable; as evidenced by the fact that he was voted team captain by teammates his final two years at UCLA. His strength is amazing, especially when considering the fact that he played in a zone blocking scheme where the players are normally the more athletic type rather than strong.
He can get a little impatient with his blocks, allowing himself to be open for mistakes. He has small arms, but not as small as Martin’s. He doesn’t do well controlling his momentum on sweeps and screens. Out of all the prospects on the Oline, Sua’Filo makes the most sense for the Cowboys. He can already play the scheme they run, and should be an elite player at the next level.
Gabe Jackson, Zack Martin, and Xavier Sua’Filo are all good players, and all should be good players at the next level. However, if I had my choice right now, Sua’Filo is the leader. I like Gabe Jackson more, but I think that Sua’Filo is simply the best fit for this team. He fits what the Cowboys are doing and he is a leader who has said he wants to be in the Hall of Fame someday. He has the right head on his shoulders, as well as the ability to play at an elite level. If the Cowboys were to draft one of the other two guys, I wouldn’t complain.