Dallas Cowboys Potential 2011 Draft Pick: Orlando Franklin, OG/OT, Miami
With the needs at right tackle, free safety and defensive end receiving plenty of publicity, some seem to be overlooking the potential hole the Cowboys will have at guard. Kyle Kosier is actually a free agent, and there are rumors Dallas plans to cut Leonard Davis. Over the last decade, the ‘Boys have done a horrible job of addressing positions before they become a problem, leaving them in their current mess. Now, they must fix the glaring needs before they can “worry” about a position like guard.
There is a potential solution to this problem, however. Acquiring players with positional versatility allows a team to “patch up” multiple positions at once. In a sense, it is a way to buy time before securing a long-term player. It isn’t simply a short-term solution in the same way signing a veteran might be, though.
Drafting a player such as Villanova guard/tackle Ben Ijalana allows the Cowboys to have a legitimate option at both positions until they can properly assess Ijalana’s future and address the other position at a later time. Thus, if they draft and start Ijalana at right tackle, he possesses the versatility to move into guard (being replaced by Sam Young, presumably) if need be. Then, Dallas could draft their true guard of the future in 2012 while using their right tackle of the future as a temporary stopgap. If you don’t follow, let’s just both agree he is better than Marc Colombo.
As I see it, there are three legitimate tackle/guard combo players in this draft: Ijalana, Lehigh’s Will Rackley and today’s feature, Miami’s Orlando Franklin (you could argue for TCU’s Marcus Cannon, but I really see him as just a guard). This is a primary reason I have been so high on Ijalana and Rackley. Read below to see why I do not think Franklin belongs in their company.
At 6’5”, 318 pounds, Orlando Franklin has superb size. Despite that size, he plays fairly quickly, displaying good lateral movement in the run game, particularly when pulling. He fires off of the ball quite well, but he does so whether the play is a run or a pass. On passes, this leads him to sometimes overextend and miss the defender. Thus, he may struggle against 4-3 defensive tackles who possess the quickness to take advantage of Franklin’s overextension. I think he will be fine with larger nose tackles.
For a man of his size, Franklin is not particularly dominant as a blocker. He rarely continues to move his feet after contact, resulting in him neutralizing a defender instead of driving him back. Having said that, Franklin’s positioning on blocks, particularly in the running game, is outstanding. He sometimes looks as if he is beat, but in reality, he has simply put himself in a position between the defender and the ball-carrier. Thus, he trades in the knockout blocks for proper positioning.
When he does get beat (usually in pass protection), Franklin does a nice job of using the defenders momentum against him. Franklin is quick enough to recover and get just enough body on the defender to knock him off course.
The one thing I love about Franklin more than anything is his toughness. He played the entire 2010 season with a torn meniscus. He then had surgery on his ACL just before the Combine, but chose to participate anyway. This could be part of the reason he ran just a 5.20 40-yard dash.
I think the Cowboys are going to like Franklin (specifically Jason Garrett). He is a big, mauling guard with versatility to play right tackle. In the past, I have compared Georgia guard Clint Boling to Kyle Kosier. Well, Franklin reminds me a lot of Leonard Davis. Neither player excels in pass protection, but they are effective run blockers with the versatility to move outside to tackle in a pinch.
NFL Network’s Mike Mayock recently stated Franklin will not make it out of the second round. That’s one of the reasons I listed him as a possibility for Dallas at No. 40. In my opinion, though, that is far too high. I would much rather select Gerogia’s Boling, Florida State’s Rodney Hudson, or Lehigh’s William Rackley, and at least one of those players should be available in the third round. All of those guards possess superior pass protection ability, and Rackley has even more versatility than Franklin.
Other Potential Dallas Cowboys Draft Picks in 2011