Rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 1,631 yards and scored 15 touchdowns last season. Rookie quarterback Dak Prescott threw for 3,667 yards, 23 touchdowns and only four interceptions. Elliott finished fourth in the voting for MVP and Prescott won Rookie of the Year. Both had great seasons and helped lead the Cowboys to a 13-3 record.
Of course they can’t take all the credit as others helped along the way to. In particular, those five big guys that blocked for them all year. Someone has to open up those running lanes for Elliott to run through and someone has to give Prescott a clean pocket to make all those great throws.
The Cowboys offensive line has been regarded one of the league’s best for a couple years now and for good reason. Talent. Talent. And more talent. But the 2017 version will look a little different after two starters have departed. The team’s left guard, Ron Leary, left for a big payday in Denver. Veteran right tackle Doug Free decided to hang it up and retire. At first glance, this would seem a little unsettling as two pieces have suddenly vanished. Granted, they are the two weakest pieces, but both these guys are good football players and can’t be replaced by just anyone.
Fortunately, the Cowboys don’t have just anyone waiting in the wings. They actually have some good options in store to replenish the holes vacated by Leary and Free.
The decision to move La’el Collins from his 2015 spot at left guard to right tackle is a brilliant one. Collins has strong hands and once he gets them engaged, he’ll bully his opponent around. His technique is good and he’s flashed moments where he’ll remind people why he was a blue-chip prospect a couple years ago. Collins moves very well as we’ve all seen his athleticism on display multiple times in his career.
The knock on Collins has been his consistency. While he’s great one play, he’ll falter on another. But these are typical traits of a young player. Now, with two years of experience under his belt, he’s molding himself into a more steady performer.
There is nobody sharing reps with him for the starting right tackle spot. That position has been filled and the Cowboys have 15 million reasons why the answer is Collins.
While fans are breathing easier about the RT position, the left guard is a different story. Entering minicamp last month, there were a handful of candidates vying for the job. But as training camp started, it’s appears the battle has been narrowed down to two likely choices - Jonathan Cooper or Chaz Green. The hope is that one of these players would be adequate enough to fill the final spot on the offensive line.
Hope is about to become a reality.
This two-man battle could end sooner than people think as a forgotten face is finally showing everyone why the team was so high on him when he was drafted. When Green was selected in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft, there weren’t too many people excited. He wasn’t a player that impressed anyone with his athleticism and he was labeled a “reach” pick, which came across even more puzzling since the team was sitting in great shape on the offensive line.
And after spending a couple seasons dealing with nagging injuries, many fans haven’t given him much thought. But that’s all about to change soon.
Green is a smart player and has a good feel for his assignments. His ability to flow with the rest of his position-mates is essential. He’s got great footwork and his movement fits nicely with a zone-schemed running attack. Don’t look now, but the Cowboys two new pieces are working out extremely well.
The offensive line has started off dominating the defensive line. While this revelation isn’t exactly surprising considering the pedigree of the O-line, it’s who is dominating that’s making some headlines. Right tackle La’el Collins has been throwing defensive linemen around and newly-made guard, Chaz Green, has been pancaking the opposition as well. This is great to see early in camp since the offensive line is expected to be the backbone of this team in 2017.
Tyron Smith La’el Collins reminding Taco Charlton that he might want to wear arm floaties the next time he tries that swim move...
It’s understandable to be guarded. Both Collins and Green are playing a new position and have a lot to prove. But while people are nervous about the offensive line dropping off this season, not a lot of people are considering the possibility that they’ll be even better. If the Cowboys assessments are correct, these two young players could be the final two pieces to the Epic Wall of Dallas.
Just think what Dak and Zeke could do.