American Football

SB Nation mock draft: Dallas Cowboys select center Jackson Powers-Johnson in first round

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2023 Pac-12 Championship - Oregon v Washington
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Our pick is in for the Dallas Cowboys in SB Nation’s mock draft.

The Dallas Cowboys’ slow 2024 offseason led to a couple of prominent offensive linemen leaving the team in free agency. Tyron Smith and Tyler Biadasz were entrenched starters who left in free agency, creating a hole at center and left tackle. Along with positions like running back and linebacker, offensive line has been a popular positional pick in many mock drafts. Given the value placed on the offensive line over those other spots, centers and tackles have popped up in the first round of many mocks for the Cowboys.

In the SB Nation mock draft, Blogging The Boys selected Jackson Powers-Johnson to replace Biadasz as the starting center. The selection was based on a vote by many of the BTB staff members, with Powers-Johnson winning over Graham Barton, Amarius Mims, Tyler Guyton and Brian Thomas Jr.

The debate here mostly centered (pun intended) on tackles and centers. While many of the top-line tackles had been taken, the center position had been untouched with Powers-Johnson and Barton representing the cream of the center crop. There is something to be said about getting the top prospect at a position this late in the first round, but it also shows that tackle is the more prized position leading to several tackles going off the board early.

We did a scouting report on Powers-Johnson back in February, where we detailed the good and the bad of the player. Lately there has been some talk of a medical issue, but as of now the long-term impact is merely speculation. Powers-Johnson won the Rimington Trophy for 2023, an award given to the best center in college football. That alone tells you about the amount of talent he possesses.

If the Cowboys were to play a game today, Brock Hoffman would likely be the center. Hoffman has climbed the depth chart since coming into the league as an undrafted free agent, but no one is sure how he would hold up as a starter for an entire season. Powers-Johnson would slide into that role, and in the process, move Hoffman back to valuable depth along the offensive line.

The Cowboys are in the midst of rebuilding their offensive line and that started with Tyler Smith, and they hope with Terence Steele. Where Smith will play this season is a question mark, but he could theoretically slide to tackle with T.J. Bass moving into the guard spot. Powers-Johnson would represent the second piece of the rebuild with Smith, and the Cowboys could dip back into the offensive line pool and grab a tackle in the second or third round. If they did that, Smith could stay at guard.

DraftKings Sportsbook has some prop bets for the 2024 draft. When taking a look at the offensive linemen props, Powers-Johnson is tied with Graham Barton with the best odds to be picked first among centers. They are ranked with a group of players at seventh overall among all linemen to be the first offensive lineman to be taken overall, including tackles like Tyler Guyton and Jordan Morgan. There is a group of tackles who dominate the odds ahead of them to be the first offensive lineman taken.

If the Cowboys are looking to draft the top player at a position group, something they have stated they like to do, then grabbing Powers-Johnson would stay true to that philosophy. Either he or Barton can lay claim to that crown. The last time the Cowboys selected a center in the first round, Travis Frederick, it worked out very well until his unexpected illness and retirement. Powers-Johnson feels like the type of player who could be in Dallas for the next decade if selected. That’s a pretty good pick.

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