For the first time in this series, we had someone who won “best all time at their position” with under 50%, as Tyron Smith pulled in 45% of the vote to be named Best Offensive Tackle in Cowboys history. Erik Williams and Rayfield Wright each got 23%, tying for second place.
This contest might not be as competitive though, as we shift focus to look at who the best offensive guard in franchise history is. The first name that jumps out for anyone is Larry Allen. In many ways, Allen is to Cowboys guards what Jason Witten is to Cowboys tight ends: sure, there are plenty of other great guards in franchise history, but considering that Allen is discussed more so as one of the best offensive linemen in NFL history, it’s not exactly a tough debate.
Allen joined the Cowboys in 1994 as a second-round pick. Dallas had just won two consecutive Super Bowls and replaced Jimmy Johnson with Barry Switzer, but Allen made a name for himself as a rookie, alternating between tackle and guard as needed. He settled in at guard the next year and quickly established himself as one of the most dominant linemen in the league. Over the course of his 12-year career in Dallas, Allen was named to the Pro Bowl 10 times and the All-Pro team seven times.
Allen was known for his physically dominant style of play, being dubbed the NFL’s strongest man after bench pressing 705 pounds at one point and lifting 520 pounds ten times in a row. Allen got a Super Bowl ring with the Cowboys and was later inducted into both the team’s Ring of Honor and the Hall of Fame. He’s also been named to both the NFL 1990s and 2000s All Decade teams.
While Allen was a truly transcendent player, he wasn’t the only great guard on the Cowboys’ line at the time. Nate Newton was another exceptional blocker, though it took some time for him to realize his potential. After going undrafted in 1983, he failed to make the final roster with the Redskins and had a short career in the USFL until that league folded. In 1986 he joined the Cowboys, serving as a backup at first before becoming the starting right tackle.
While Newton was solid at tackle, he was beat out by Erik Williams prior to the 1992 season, which led to Newton moving to left guard. It was here that Newton found his groove. His play earned him five consecutive Pro Bowl selections and one more later on, and Newton helped solidify The Great Wall of Dallas that powered the team towards a Super Bowl dynasty. Like Allen, Newton was known for being physically overpowering, even if he couldn’t bench 700 pounds.
Another notable Cowboys guard from the 90’s is Kevin Gogan. In many ways, Gogan was the Doug Free of the pre-Larry Allen Cowboys line: his veteran leadership set the tone for the others and he was effective as a blocker, though he rarely gets as much praise. In fact, Gogan never earned a Pro Bowl selection during his time in Dallas despite being so good. Eventually he left in free agency when the Cowboys opted to sign other players over him, which paved the way for Allen’s emergence. Gogan went on to the 49ers, where he made three Pro Bowls. Still, Gogan won two championships in Dallas and was an integral part of the line.
But before the days of Allen, Newton, and Gogan, there was John Niland. Playing in the Tom Landry era from 1966 to 1974, Niland anchored the interior of the line that was asked to frequently block for the running game, a focal point of the Cowboys offense at the time. Niland became one of the most reliable blockers in the league, helping to pave the way for countless running backs and fullbacks on their way to a Super Bowl VI victory. A three-time All-Pro, Niland is tied with Newton and Rayfield Wright for second most Pro Bowls of an offensive lineman with six.
And then there’s Zack Martin, currently on the team. Much like Niland and Allen, Martin is considered to be one of, if not the best, guards in the NFL. Since he was drafted 16th overall in 2014, Martin has made the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams every single year. He was the first rookie in franchise history to be named to the All-Pro first team since 1969, and the first rookie offensive lineman in NFL history to do so since 1947.
He missed his first ever NFL game in 2018 with a knee injury, which slowed him down a bit, but Martin is still considered an elite lineman and one of the very best in the NFL right now. But the question is if he can overtake Allen as the greatest guard in franchise history.
With that in mind, we ask the question:
Who is the best offensive guard in Cowboys franchise history?
This poll is closed