Could Cowboys make play for Carl Nicks?

IRVING, Texas -- Last year Jerry Jones drafted an offensive lineman in the first round for the first time as owner and general manager of the Cowboys, and Tyron Smith proved he was worth the No. 9 overall pick.

Jones was leery of drafting an offensive lineman so high because he didn’t believe the value was worth it, but Smith’s play and possible move to left tackle in 2012 could signal a switch in Jones’ philosophy.

So we ask the question: could the Cowboys draft a guard with the 14th pick in the first round in April?

It certainly wouldn’t be a sexy selection, but the Cowboys should get past the sexiness. The Cowboys have a need there. (As of now there does not appear to be any centers worthy of the 14th pick, but Wisconsin’s Peter Konz could be a possibility.)

Kyle Kosier tore the medial collateral ligament in the season finale but should be fine with rest. Bill Nagy’s rookie season was cut short by a broken ankle. Montrae Holland, who ended the year on injured reserve with a torn biceps, and Derrick Dockery are set to be free agents. David Arkin, a fourth-round pick in 2011, was inactive for all 16 games as a rookie.

Can Arkin make the jump to starter with a full offseason conditioning program? Can Nagy continue to progress?

Stanford’s David DeCastro seems to be everybody’s favorite guard right now and there are other prominent names in the second round (Wisconsin’s Kevin Zeitler is one). The best guard in team history, Larry Allen, was a second-round pick in 1994. The last time the Cowboys took a guard in the first round was in 1966 when they tabbed John Niland with the fifth pick. That worked out well, too.

But the addition of Bill Callahan as offensive line coach and the plethora of needs on the defensive side of the ball have me wondering if the Cowboys should get into the free agency game for a guard and get the more “sure thing” rather than taking a chance on a rookie who might need time to develop.

Jones has shelled out some money for free agents in the recent past and for three guards in particular: Marco Rivera, Leonard Davis and Kyle Kosier.

New Orleans’ Carl Nicks is considered by many to be the top guard in free agency and the Saints have to find a way to get Drew Brees under contract. They also recently gave Jahri Evans a big-time contract, so could they really afford to pay another guard top money?

And here’s the Callahan connection: he coached Nicks at Nebraska.

Just something to ponder before free agency begins in March.