[After that disastrous 2015 season, that saw the Cowboys go 4-12 thanks to the injury bug, we are going to examine the entire roster from top to bottom and ask:
Have the Dallas Cowboys improved?
That may seem like a loaded question but in terms of looking inside and out and taking every variable into the equation that question can be answered. Do you believe that the Cowboys improved from one year to the next?]
Today, we turn our attention to the interior line. The Cowboys may be as solid there as anywhere on the entire roster, but what happens if something occurs? Well, let's examine the guys they had last year versus this year and find out.
LG - Ronald Leary (started first three games, was officially replaced in the bye week due to groin strain)
LG - La'el Collins (UDFA signing, started 11 games, appeared in 12 games)
C - Travis Frederick ( 2X Pro Bowler, 2X 2nd Team All-Pro selection)
RG - Zack Martin (elected to 2nd Pro Bowl, 2nd Team All-Pro selection)
OG/ C- Mackenzy Bernadeau (started 1 game for injury, appeared in two games, left for JAX in free agency)
LG - La'el Collins
C- Travis Frederick
RG - Zack Martin
OG - Ronald Leary (received second-round tender, requested a trade during the offseason)
OG - Joe Looney (signed in offseason to offset loss of Bernadeau, started 10 games in career)
OC- Jake Brendel (UDFA out of UCLA)
OG - Jared Smith (former seventh-round pick from Seahawks)
OG - Boston Stiverson (UDFA signing from Kansas State)
Starting from the bottom and working their way up, you got two guys that could compete for a spot on the practice squad. Their chances will increase if either of them is good at snapping the ball as the Cowboys need to find a backup center. Brendel's chances are even better as he's already coming from the position, played at UCLA, and played it well.
Looney was a signing to offset the loss of Bernadeau, but I don't get the impression that he's a backup plan behind Travis Frederick. As a guy who has started some games, they can feel better about keeping him on the 53 as a veteran insurance policy who is still young at 25.
In the case of Leary, he wanted to get a trade facilitated but it didn't work out. The Cowboys were smart in not just trying to make something happen to appease him as they still have a lot of use for his services. He's not the type of unprofessional player that will pout and be a problem in the locker room. He was given a second-round tender and will come to work every day with the mindset to help the team as best he can. The Cowboys aren't in the business of getting rid of their strengths.
The three guys at the top are staples and La'el Collins is on the short-list to make his first Pro Bowl. The truth of the matter is that Collins was a first-round consensus pick if not for some unfortunate circumstances he had to deal with back in Baton Rouge. Unfortunately, the untimely events that had nothing to do with him cost him his first-round status. The Cowboys are lucky to have him and his highlights from last season only spell good things for his future.
Frederick and Martin are absolute beasts at their position and a huge part of the reason why the Cowboys have arguably the best offensive line in football. Frederick's smarts and strength make him one of the top centers in the league. Zack Martin had an injury scare last season but managed to start every game and he's a perennial Pro Bowl player as well as an All-Pro.
So, did the Dallas Cowboys improve on the interior offensive line?
I would say no at this point but what did they really need to do? One of Bernadeau or Leary wasn't going to stay and they kept the better player. They still have an issue with finding who is going to be the backup center but they are strong overall at the interior. They'll likely go long at offensive line but the important place to pay attention to is what they get in the potential of a backup center.