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Did The Dallas Cowboys Improve On The Offensive Line In 2017?

The Cowboys have some reshuffling to do, did they improve the talent on the offensive line?

NFL: Dallas Cowboys-Minicamp Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

[After an incredible rise from worst to first in 2016 that saw the Cowboys ride the backs of two outstanding rookie campaigns to 13-3 and a changing of the guard, we have to examine the roster. From 1 to 53, we only have one question?

Have the Dallas Cowboys improved?]

To continue our series, we now take our focus to the offensive side of the ball. Did the Cowboys improve along the offensive line?

Last Season:

LT Tyron Smith (started 13 games, All-Pro selection, and Pro Bowl selection)

LG Ronald Leary (started 12 games and played 13 games, signed four-year $35M deal with Broncos, $20M GTD)

LG La’el Collins (started three games, IR with broken foot)

C Travis Frederick (started 16 games, All-Pro selection, and Pro Bowl selection)

RG Zack Martin (started 16 games, All-Pro selection, and Pro Bowl selection)

RT Doug Free (started 16 games, retired in offseason)

OT Chaz Green (started two games, played in four games)

OT Emmett Cleary (played 13 games, started one)

OG Joe Looney (played 16 games, started three games)

OG Jonathan Cooper (signed in postseason, started three games for Browns)

This Season:

LT Tyron Smith

LG Jonathan Cooper

LG Chaz Green

C Travis Frederick

RG Zack Martin

RT La’el Collins

OT/OG Byron Bell (signed one-year deal, last started 16 games with Titans in 2015)

OT Emmett Cleary

OG Joe Looney

Notable Rookies: G Dan Skipper, G Nate Theaker (Both UDFA’s)

Let’s get right on down to it, three of these spots are no cause for concern. Smith, Frederick, and Martin have their spots locked down for a while. There are truly only two spots to think about and that’s right tackle and left guard.

The battle at right tackle has seemingly ended as the Cowboys are ready to see La’el Collins work that position. He’s worked exclusively there for the entirety of the offseason and don’t expect them to move him back to guard. He has a higher ceiling than Doug Free but that doesn’t mean we will see it immediately. What you have to love about Collins are his athleticism and abilities to block at the second level. Where Doug Free was solid, the potential for La’el Collins is way higher and he could turn into another perennial Pro Bowler. It may take a few games before he’s really ready to excel at tackle but he’s got great potential.

That leaves a big hole at left guard where the decision will come down to a guy who is perpetually injured and a first-round flameout. Ronald Leary was a mauler on the left side and he deserved to get paid handsomely for his services. Chaz Green has exclusively played tackle but he’s being moved to guard, it’s always the same question with him about his health. Jonathan Cooper is the odds-on favorite for the job but he’s struggled to stick with a team after being drafted seventh overall by the Cardinals. That battle will be important to the Cowboys finding improvement. Dallas, on one hand, will be able to benefit from having Smith and Frederick on either side of the left guard. On the other, they will miss the nastiness from Leary.

The Cowboys did sign Byron Bell in the offseason as an insurance policy and they have another vet in Joe Looney. Both are guys that have started plenty of games in the NFL and could step in when their numbers are called.

Conclusion: This is the first time they’ve had to reshuffle multiple spots on the line in a while. Collins, based on talent and pedigree, should be okay at right tackle, but how long will it take until he’s got it locked down? Cooper and Green have ways to go before we can be absolutely confident they’ll be good. Dallas did themselves a favor with the Bell signing and their backups at tackle are improved from 2016. Both Skipper and Theaker are players that the Cowboys have future plans with but don’t expect much to occur this season. With two positions in flux, improvement is hard to justify. Reshuffling in your best position grouping will always cause some uneasiness.


Did The Dallas Cowboys Improve The Offensive Line In 2017?

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