The Great Wall of Dallas entered last season with a ton of pressure because it was their responsibility to set the tone for their new rookie backfield. Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and Travis Frederick are superstars and arguably in the top two of their respected positions in the National Football League.
Tyron Smith: Left Tackle
Let's keep this simple. Tyron Smith is the best of the best and fortunately is locked up until 2023. He is the ultimate piece to complement a young and rising Dak Prescott and Zeke Elliott.
Ronald Leary: Left Guard
Ronald Leary has been in this position before. Before the 2016 season, he held out during the offseason program and OTAs while he requested a trade. Fortunately, the Cowboys did not bite on a number of offers and it paid dividends, particularly because La'el Collins got injured. His emergence as a formidable piece to an already superstar offensive line makes Leary particularly appealing to NFL teams. At 27, he is a solid guard and will be a hot commodity around the league as he enters this offseason as a true unrestricted free agent. While the Cowboys may attempt to keep him, he will receive generous offers elsewhere and will not return to Dallas next season.
Travis Frederick: Center
Jerry Jones got a lot of heat for picking Frederick in the first round but Jones has gotten the last laugh. Frederick has solidified himself as a top notch center in this league and is also locked up until 2023.
Zack Martin: Right Guard
Zack Martin has started every game in his tenure in Dallas and the Jones' will not let that change. They are fortunate to have a final year of a rookie contract coming up but expect the Cowboys to lock Martin up to a long term deal (can anyone say, 2023?).
Doug Free: Right Tackle
Doug Free has been with the Dallas Cowboys since the 2007 NFL Draft. He has been a reliable player on the right side even though he has been hit with offensive holding penalties at times. He enters this coming season in his contract year (he signed a three-year deal before the 2015 season) and he will remain the starting right tackle. Depending on his performance and the potential that his backups show, this may be his last season in Dallas.
La'el Collins, Tackle
La'el Collins was the top offensive lineman at LSU just a few years ago and found himself in the running to be a top pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, a series of false accusations took place and Collins dropped out of the draft. Subsequently, the Cowboys signed him as a free agent. He played well in 2015 and was limited in 2016 after suffering a toe injury early in the season. With his talent and pedigree, expect him to take over the LG position from Ronald Leary and start alongside the best offensive line in football.
Jonathan Cooper: Guard
Surprisingly, Jonathan Cooper was signed by the Cowboys in early January last season to add offensive line depth. He is now a free agent and it is unclear what Dallas will decide to do with him. He has been bouncing around the league the last few years but I see Dallas re-signing Cooper to ensure depth in case Martin or Collins goes down with injury.
Chaz Green, Tackle
Chaz Green was drafted in the 2015 NFL Draft and has had durability issues since arriving. He has only played in four games but his talent is there and he will remain in Dallas as the backup tackle.
Emmett Cleary, Tackle
Emmett Cleary was signed by the Cowboys midway through the 2016 season as a reserve swing tackle to replace an injured and aforementioned Chaz Green. He played LT a few times last season to replace an injured Tyron Smith and showed ability. Expect him to remain with the team as a reserve swing tackle.
Summary of Predictions
Starting Offensive Line
LT: Tyron Smith
LG: La'el Collins
C: Travis Frederick
RG: Zack Martin
RT: Doug Free
Ronald Leary: Simply played too well this season as he has earned his way to a large contract elsewhere.
Jonathan Cooper: He is a solid backup guard option behind Collins and he should get signed for a relatively inexpensive deal given his up and down play lately.
Chaz Green and Emmett Cleary: They both remain with the Cowboys as backup tackles. Part of having the best offensive line in football is ensuring depth in case one man goes down.