COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 23 Oklahoma at Cincinnati
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FRISCO, Texas --  The Dallas Cowboys' 2024 NFL Draft war room was abuzz Thursday night as the first round wound down toward the 24th overall selection. 

After the team lost eight players in free agency, tied for the third-most in a single season in franchise history, the Cowboys were motivated to both fill one of the biggest holes on their roster -- left tackle thanks to the departure of eight-time Pro Bowler Tyron Smith to the New York Jets -- and acquire more mid-round picks to check as many needs off as possible. 

Dallas' front office, which came under fire after some peculiar thoughts on salary cap management on Tuesday, deftly walked the tightrope of balancing both goals and came away with Oklahoma offensive tackle Tyler Guyton as well as another third round pick (73rd overall) after moving back from 24 to 29 thanks to a trade with the Detroit Lions

"We made a conscientious looksie into it when we were fielding the trades," Dallas Cowboys COO and EVP Stephen Jones said at a press conference late Thursday night. "It happened with Detroit that we were going to have five players get picked [before we picked again], and we had four up there we really liked. We felt good about making the trade. It is tense waiting, and there is no question we were taking some risk there. You are believing in your board and you are having patience. Certainly, that paid off for us and what we were wanting to accomplish, certainly, with some of the linemen that we felt were worthy of a first round pick. It was great to get that done and pick up a pick, which we were really wanting to do in this particular draft, because of where it has depth and where we think we can get good players." 

Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones revealed the four players Dallas was hoping to come away with at pick 29 after making the trade: Guyton, Duke guard/center Graham Barton (26th overall pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Arizona offensive tackle Jordan Morgan (25th overall pick by the Green Bay Packers) and Missouri defensive lineman Darius Robinson (27th overall pick by Arizona Cardinals). Dallas also had four different teams calling them either a pick or two before they were on the clock, or in the case of the Lions, while the Cowboys were on the clock at pick 24. Four different members of the Dallas front office were working the phones with each of the four teams that called in and then relying the terms back to Jerry. 

"You need something special to happen to be within hitting distance of where we are picking for the phone to light up and that happened, the defensive pass rusher [Darius Robinson] was there," Jerry said. "Boy, that phone started lighting up and clubs started looking how to get up there and get that. It wasn't the biggest fire signal I'd ever seen, but it was nice enough to effectively get what we hoped would happen. That was to have some serious opportunity left on the board, yet be able to come down and get us those extra picks. We didn't have the four, so the four is where we wanted to pick the pick up. Well sure enough, that pass rusher dropped down there, most thought that was too low, and the phones started lighting up. It's when they start lighting and coming to you is when you can do some business."

The Cowboys even had conversations with the Kansas City Chiefs, per Jerry, to trade back in the first round a second time, but they decided to make a deal with the Buffalo Bills to go up to the 28th overall pick instead of 29th overall, where the Cowboys were, and select Texas Longhorns wide receiver Xavier Worthy

When Guyton, a lifelong Cowboys fan who grew up in Manor, Texas just outside of Austin, saw Dallas trade back five spots, his heart sank into his stomach.

"My heart dropped because I really love the Cowboys, and I really love football and that was all I was dreaming for, Guyton said on a  conference call with local media late Thursday night. "But we got the job done."

Guyton's new job with the Cowboys, playing left tackle and replacing 2010's All-Decade Team member Tyron Smith, is the opposite of his job in college with the Sooners, where 13 of his 14 starts came at right tackle. 

"I feel like those are big shoes to fill from such a legendary tackle, but I'm going to work my ass off to do the best that I can," Guyton said. "I was a big Tyron Smith fan my whole life because he plays for my team. He plays for my favorite team and once I started playing the offensive line position, knowing that he's one of the best to ever do it, was kind of amazing for me."

His lone start at left tackle was in a 45-13 win against University of Texas El Paso in the 2022 season opener. Guyton didn't allow a sack on 335 pass-blocking snaps in 2023 while playing solely at right tackle. 

"I've done both," Guyton said of playing left tackle versus playing right tackle. "I feel like either one I'm good at and I'll jump right into left tackle and do whatever I can. There's no bigger difference for me. I feel like it's only flipping plays and flipping techniques. I don't think it'll be a hard job to do. I'm really excited for it."

Even though Guyton played exclusively at right tackle last season, he was the Sooners' blindside protector for quarterback Dillon Gabriel, a left-handed passer, so protecting Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott's blindside won't be an entirely new phenomenon. 

"I think with Tyler playing the right side we understand that, and particularly ... doing your homework in the draft process that they had a left-handed quarterback at Oklahoma, so he is the backside tackle," Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said Thursday. "It will be an easy transition for him as far as the responsibility of playing the backside of the quarterback. It's just like anything; the footwork and things that he was going to do anyways, but man what a pick for us. Just to feel his enthusiasm and passion on the phone, just his excitement of being a Cowboys fans and the fit there as an Austin, Texas native. Just a great add to our offensive line."

Fourteen starts at Oklahoma isn't a significant body of work at the college level, but the athletic traits [5.19 40-yard dash, 34.5" vertical jump and 8'11" broad jump] and footwork Dallas observed from Guyton, who measured to be six feet, eight inches while weighing 322 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine, left them feeling like there is plenty of untapped potential in that massive frame. 

"I mean, they are all positive," McCarthy said of his 14 starts. "He's got a tremendous ceiling. "To me, if that doesn't excite you to coach, then you need to do something else. We're about developing these young players. Draft and develop is a baseline for us. Your youth has to step up and play earlier than ever in this league. It's a young man's game, and this is another great example. I think, as a coach, we're excited about all the promise that he has in front of him. Fourteen starts is a positive. It's not a knock against him. More than ever, with the NIL and the [transfer] portal, these players take different paths and different courses. There are different thresholds and directions that they go, so I think it's important for us to look at the potential. We feel strongly about how our offensive line really is. He'll be a great fit in there, and this young man has a very high ceiling."

McCarthy has overseen moving offensive linemen from one side of the line to the other multiple times throughout his NFL head-coaching career. He moved Tyron Smith from left tackle to right tackle briefly after he returned from an injury, and rookie Tyler Smith was playing well at left tackle. McCarthy also executed the move with two players he coached to a Super Bowl title with the Green Bay Packers.

"The biggest thing is footwork. We moved Tyron from left tackle to right tackle in 2022 so that was recent," McCarthy said. "We moved Brian Bulaga from right tackle to left tackle. We moved Josh Sitton from right guard to left guard and he gave the best description of the difficulty of moving from right guard to left guard. 'It's like wiping your ass with the opposite hand'. That was his way of telling me he wasn't real excited about the move."

The most exciting part of Guyton's fit for the Cowboys is that he will allow them to keep 2023 Pro Bowl left guard Tyler Smith at that spot, the position in which he is most comfortable

"You would hope – it is hard to do with offensive lineman – you would hope to have a little sexiness to this pick using your first round pick," Jerry said. "I actually thought we had that with Tyler Smith two years ago. I think we have it here. This is a sexy pick for an offensive lineman, because he has a lot of upside. I am excited about that."

"That was the most exciting thing for me honestly. I get a guard that's a dawg," Guyton said of Smith. "I love how he plays. I love how we're in the same situation as him last year, and I feel like we're going to thrive together. I love his nasty edge and his ferocious mentality and hopefully I can piggyback off of him."

It's hard to blame the Cowboys for getting fired up about Guyton: each of the four first-round offensive lineman Dallas has picked since Jones bought the team in 1989 -- Tyron Smith (ninth overall in 2011, eight Pro Bowls), center Travis Frederick (31st overall in 2013, five Pro Bowls), right guard Zack Martin (16th overall in 2014, nine Pro Bowls) and Tyler Smith (24th overall in 2022, one Pro Bowl) have been Pro Bowlers. 

"T&T. You heard it here first," McCarthy said with a big grin, referring to Tyler Smith and Tyler Guyton. "I don't know why I said that. What time is it?"

Stephen Jones, who was seated next to McCarthy, turned while laughing and asked him "You've been drinking my cup?"

It was unclear what was in the cup, but it's obvious the Cowboys have plenty to celebrate after solidifying the left side of their offensive line for the foreseeable future.