Moving further inside on the offensive line, we take a look at the guard position for the Cowboys. Let's compare and contrast where the Cowboys are in this department.
2014: Zack Martin, Ronald Leary, Mackenzy Bernadeau
2015: Zack Martin, Ronald Leary, La'el Collins, Mackenzy Bernadeau
RG1- Zack Martin
"The safest pick in the 2014 NFL Draft" said Mike Mayock. Martin went from rookie to All-Pro in a flash as this offensive line rose to new heights in 2014. He's got that grit and nastiness you want in the position. PFF had him tied for sixth-best guard in the league with a +21.6 rating. That's not all though, because by those same metrics, Martin finished second in pass-block and gave up zero sacks. He has been excellent for this offensive line that needed to improve at the position. His ability to get to the second-level in run blocking was astonishing. It was amazing how he would be blocking for DeMarco Murray 15 yards down the field. Great pick for the Cowboys and should only continue his Pro Bowl ways in 2015.
RG2- Mackenzy Bernadeau
Anytime a guy who used to start is one of your first guys off the bench, it's a good sign. Bernadeau is only a season removed from the starting right guard position. He's the most versatile lineman on the roster and has the experience to play any of the interior spots. He serves multiple purposes as the backup to both Martin and Travis Frederick. This past season, the Cowboys were able to keep other positions do to their confidence in Mackenzy. He's also built a nice relationship as a good locker room guy and is a proud member of the unit. The Cowboys have built perhaps the best depth in the league and Bernadeau is a big insurance policy to have.
LG1- Ronald Leary
If anyone epitomizes nastiness, it's Leary. After being undrafted, Jerry Jones decided to give him a little extra to sign with Dallas. He wasn't ready in his first year but soon took over the starting gig and never looked back. Ron Leary is a road grader and he and Tyron Smith were dominant in the running game. PFF rated Leary fifth-overall in run blocking with a +14.5. He does need some work as a pass blocker but Leary is a feisty competitor. As the only starter that wasn't drafted, he seems determined to get as much out of his NFL career as possible. With a degenerative knee-condition, Leary fell off the boards. However, he's made a name for himself in Big D.
LG2- La'el Collins
Collins is the steal of the offseason. I'll have to use another Ric Flair quote on this one. "You want hear that somebody is doing well, but you don't want to hear they're doing better than you." That's what came to mind when the Cowboys signed the highest sought after undrafted free-agent in NFL history. If the offensive line wasn't already good, this front office made it unfairly good. Collins was a top 10-15 talent before and unfortunate circumstance cost him his chance to be called in the first round. Though he was a tackle in college, his natural position may be as a guard. He'll be looking to battle it out with Leary for the left guard position. Collins came to Dallas to be a part of one of the best offensive lines ever assembled. With his pedigree, he should fit right in with the lot of them.
My take: Obviously this is a big yes in the improvement department. Not only have the Cowboys found ways this offseason to strengthen some of their weaknesses, but they also have strengthened their strengths. The depth chart at guard is insane by most cases. The Cowboys have a surplus of talent along the offensive line and it could serve them well in 2015.