From the looks of it, the Cowboys may be without one, maybe even two offensive lineman when they take on the Carolina Panthers in week one. Travis Frederick is sidelined with Guilliain Barre Syndrome which is a disease that attacks the nervous system. It is unclear how long Frederick will be out, but it definitely could be for part of the season. Zack Martin is also currently sidelined with a knee injury. With both Frederick and Martin sidelined, Kadeem Edwards and Joe Looney are getting playing time with the first team in practice, and are slated to be the starters in week one, if both normal starters are out. The team is hopeful Martin will play. At tackle, Cam Fleming and Chaz Green have had their struggles in preseason. So do the Cowboys have any “sure things” on their second team offensive line? Right now it’s not looking to promising.
In order for the 2018 Dallas Cowboys to find success, the backup offensive line will need to be much better than they’ve shown so far this offseason. The starting five offensive lineman for the Dallas Cowboys have looked very good as a unit this offseason, and that has been the case for the last four to five years. Things tend to go south when a starter goes down and a replacement player has to play meaningful snaps.
Since 2010, the Cowboys have spent nine draft picks on offensive lineman, Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin being the three best from the nine. Where they have struggled is evaluating the mid- to late-round lineman who can play a valuable swing tackle/guard role. In 2015, the Cowboys spent a third-round pick on Chaz Green, it is likely that Green will be a roster cut before the start of the season. They also drafted Laurence Gibson out of Virginia Tech in the seventh round of the 2015 draft. Gibson never played a regular season snap for the Cowboys and is currently with the Tennessee Titans.
In the last few offseasons, the Cowboys have spent their free agency looking to add valuable bodies along the offensive line. This offseason they signed Marcus Martin to compete as the teams starting left guard before drafting Connor Williams. Last year, the Cowboys re-signed Jonathan Cooper, and also signed Byron Bell to a one-year deal. Both of those players are no longer on the roster.
What the Cowboys have in 2018 is their starting five (Smith, Williams, Fredrick, Martin, and Collins), and then a whole lot of question marks behind them. Cam Fleming was signed in the offseason to take over as the teams starting swing tackle, and was expected to be a huge upgrade. So far, he has yet to look like a valuable option as the sixth offensive lineman. Joe Looney has probably been the most consistent backup offensive lineman, but still has yet to show consistency in the two preseason games he’s played in. Chaz Green has been absolutely atrocious, and Kadeem Edwards has looked good at times, but has struggled anchoring against power.
The regular season kicks off in just a few weeks and it doesn’t seem like the Cowboys have many answers for their offensive line depth questions marks. They will likely consider all options, and could potentially look at a trade, or wait and see who gets cut when rosters get trimmed down on September 1st. Right now, it’s best that everyone crosses their fingers that Zack Martin can go against Carolina, and that Travis Frederick has a quick recovery period, because the options available right now to fill in for them could be costly to an offense that relies on keeping the front of the pocket clean for Dak Prescott, and clearing running lanes for Ezekiel Elliott. This offense will go as far as the offensive line takes it, and if recent years are any sign of whats to come, at least one starter on the offensive line will miss at least a little time this season. We’ll see if the backups are more prepared this year.