By Mike Fisher
TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 17:  AJ McCarron #10 of the Alabama Crimson Tide passes against the Western Carolina Catamounts at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 17, 2012 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Chance Warmack of Alabama (right), a highly regarded prospect at guard, could be available when the Cowboys select at 18. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

IRVING (105.3 THE FAN) — If you talk to personnel people about offensive linemen available in the April 25 NFL Draft, you come away believing there are five top-tier standouts. If you examine mock drafts, you come away believing all five will be snapped up before the Dallas Cowboys get the opportunity to use the No. 18 overall pick to fill their offensive-line need.

But draft history offers some relief from those unfortunate predictions – and the possibility of Dallas being left with the option of taking an elite blocker at No. 18.

Never in the last 27 years has there been a draft in which five offensive linemen went before pick No. 7. Not since 1985 – featuring Bill Fralic (Falcons) at No. 2, Lomas Brown (Lions) at No. 6, Ken Ruettgers (Packers) at No. 7, Kevin Allen (Eagles) at No. 9 and Jim Lachey (Chargers) at No. 12 – has there been a five-deep run at this position group.

In five drafts in the last 27 years, four offensive linemen were taken in the first 17 slots. The average number of O-linemen drafted before the 18th spot in the last 27 years is 2.48. On seven occasions, just one offensive lineman was selected in the first 17 slots.

That obviously won’t be the case this year; tackles Luke Joeckel (Texas A&M), Eric Fisher (Central Michigan) and Lane Johnson (Oklahoma) and guards Jonathan Cooper (North Carolina) and Chance Warmack (Alabama) all deserve first-round grades.

But the possibility of one of them still being on the board when the Cowboys pick at No. 18? Mock drafts say that won’t happen. The history of the last 27 NFL Drafts says it will.

Number of offensive linemen taken in the first 17 picks in the last 27 years of the NFL Draft:

2012: 1
2011: 3
2010: 4
2009: 3
2008: 4
2007: 2
2006: 1
2005: 1
2004: 2
2003: 1
2002: 3
2001: 3
2000: 1
1999: 2
1998: 2
1997: 3
1996: 2
1995: 2
1994: 3
1993: 4
1992 :4
1991: 3
1990: 1
1989: 3
1988: 3
1987: 1
1986: 4

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