If Dallas Cowboys draft a tackle at No. 10, it won’t be to replace Tyron Smith in 2021

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Clarence E. Hill Jr.
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There has been some growing chatter about the Dallas Cowboys possibly taking an offensive tackle with the 10th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

In fact, ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper had the Cowboys taking Northwestern tackle Rashawn Slater in his first mock draft.

In his second mock, he has the Cowboys taking Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain Jr.

Slater would be a best-player-available option for the Cowboys if he was a consideration at 10, but not a necessity to fill a need.

According to a source, left tackle Tyron Smith and right tackle La’el Collins are both on schedule to return in 2021 after injuries robbed them of their 2020 seasons.

Collins underwent hip surgery and didn’t take a snap last season, while Smith played two games before having season-ending neck surgery.

Add in the return of Pro Bowl right guard Zack Martin, who missed five games last season due to a concussion and a calf strain, and the Cowboys’ offensive line could once again be one of the best in the league.

If there was any real concern about any member of that unit, it would be for Smith, a veteran who missed three games in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 before missing 14 games in 2020. He had missed just one game in first five seasons combined.

But Smith is focused on returning for his 11th season and there is a belief that his injury woes are behind him, thanks to the neck surgery.

The Cowboys have no concerns about a decline in play.

When healthy, Smith, a seven-time Pro Bowl lineman, is still one of the league’s top left tackles and there is no pressing urgency to draft his replacement in 2021 while there are still so many needs to address on defense.

However, if Slater is the best player on the board by the time the Cowboys are on the clock, he could very well be a consideration. He could flex to left guard and give the Cowboys an embarrassment of riches up front.

But, again, that would more of a luxury than a necessity.

Smith and Collins should be good to go in 2021. And Martin, a six-time Pro Bowl selection, figured to return to his normal dominance.

The Cowboys are also confident that Connor McGovern, who played well at right guard in place of Martin last season, could push or supplant the maligned Connor Williams at left guard.