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Ranking the 7 best left guard options for the Cowboys who are currently on the roster

Which Cowboys player emerges from the ashes to become the team’s new left guard?

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys have a lot of depth along the offensive line. Between a few first-round draft investments and a slew of later-round guys who they have developed, the team sits with an abundance of depth in the trenches. Despite all the able bodies, they are still in search of a starting left guard.

This is a position that the team has struggled with getting any consistency as there has been a lot of turnover over the years. With players like Nate Livings, Ron Leary, La’el Collins, Jonathan Cooper, Connor Williams, and most recently Connor McGovern, the Cowboys continue their LG shuffle, and this year appears to be no different.

We’ve heard a lot of different names mentioned as potential left guard candidates and the team continues to experiment. Among the names we are hearing are the team’s last three Day 3 tackles they’ve drafted as they hope one of them possesses the traits to create a workable transition inside. These players include Josh Ball, Matt Waletzko, and most recently Asim Richards. Free agent Chuma Edoga is said to also be in the mix as he did log one game at guard last year in Atlanta, and that’s all this coaching staff needs to hear to give him a try.

While there are several candidates to choose from, none of them actually inspire any real confidence. Their overall rawness and left tackle traits are a couple of the reasons why. But before we just latch on to our favorite choice, we thought it would be good to run through all the candidates and evaluate their skills at various offensive linemen traits. Starting from the oldest, here is how each of them rates:

Left Guard Skills Matrix

Chuma Edoga 26 Solid Weak Solid Strong Weak Solid
Matt Farniok 25 Solid Weak Strong Solid Strong Solid
Josh Ball 25 Solid Solid Strong Solid Strong Excellent
T.J. Bass 24 Solid Solid Solid Solid Strong Weak
Matt Waletzko 23 Weak Weak Solid Weak Solid Excellent
Asim Richards 22 Solid Weak Solid Weak Solid Strong
Tyler Smith 22 Excellent Excellent Excellent Weak Excellent Excellent

For each category they fall into, a score will be given to them (Excellent = 4, Strong = 3, Solid = 2, Weak = 1). Of course, all traits aren’t viewed as equal when it comes to playing inside at guard, so we decided to add a little extra weight to a couple of the really crucial ones (strength and ability to bend/anchor) and take off some weight for a couple that is more critical for the tackle position (length and hands). Adjusting the scores accordingly produces the following results.

Tyler Smith

Why he’s the best fit:
There should be no surprise here. The team’s top draft choice from a year ago is the most athletic lineman they have on the team. The physical traits are all there and the only knock on him has been his raw technique and slower processing ability, but with a full NFL season under his belt, that’s even less of an issue. Make no mistake about it, Smith is the team’s most powerful option at left guard.

Why he’s not the best fit:
The only reason you wouldn’t want Tyler playing left guard would be because you want him playing at left tackle. With Tyron Smith returning for another season, the Cowboys have some options here and if that includes Tyron going back to left tackle, then Tyler is their left guard. However, Smith’s durability and the chance of temporarily playing him at right tackle until Terence Steele is a full-go could put Tyler back on the edge. Plus, we all know Tyler is the team’s future left tackle, so there's some good reasoning behind just keeping him at his eventual permanent residence.

Josh Ball

Why he’s a good fit:
When it comes to the combination of size and athleticism, Ball is the next best thing to Tyler Smith. He’s a solid mover both laterally and with good bend, and he brings a lot of pop when he engages. He’s athletic enough to climb to the second level and has the nasty temperament you want in a lineman. When you look at his traits, it shouldn’t be too surprising that his name was one of the first ones we heard out of camp this year.

Why he’s not a good fit:
Despite his athleticism, he can find himself out of position at times. His fundamentals can find him off balance and ineffective. He’s been with the team for two years and they should know by now if his growth offers something that can be harnessed into a viable player. His past off-field mistakes have soured the fanbase, but from a pure talent perspective, don’t sleep on Ball as being a legit option for the team.

Matt Farniok

Why he’s a good fit:
Farniok isn’t a guy who gets mentioned a lot, which is strange because he’s the one option on this list who has logged the most time at left guard for the Cowboys. Over his two-year career, Farniok has played 19 games, including making two starts last season filling in for the injured Connor McGovern. He’s a smart player who moves extremely well, which is why the coaches found room for him on the field even when he wasn’t on the line of scrimmage. There might not be a “higher floor” pick than Farniok if it comes to that.

Why he’s not a good fit:
He just doesn’t possess enough raw power to move bodies, and when you pair him next to Tyler Biadasz, they basically have two quick and savvy blockers who are susceptible to being overpowered. We like Farniok as a depth piece, but his lack of strength and ability to hold blocks from monster-size defensive tackles will always be a concern.

T.J. Bass

Why he’s a good fit:
The bruiser from Oregon is one of the most experienced players on this list when it comes to actually playing the guard position as 13 of his 34 college games come at LG. Bass rates out well because he’s solid in many categories, especially those pertaining to playing inside. He plays wide, he has great grip strength, and he does a great job staying low and maintaining leverage.

Why he’s not a good fit:
Bass can be a little late and is vulnerable in pass protection. He doesn’t have good length so longer-armed defensive tackles will be able to get into his chest. Lacking great athleticism would be a much greater concern on the edge, but a move inside could make him one of the more intriguing under-the-radar players to keep an eye out on this summer.

Chuma Edoga

Why he’s a good fit:
The veteran of the bunch, Edoga has played in 26 career NFL games, starting in half of them. He’s a smart player with a fair amount of athleticism and is effective in getting into the second level. His footwork and savvy positioning keep him in good spots and he has shown the ability to hold his ground.

Why he’s not a good fit:
Edoga has a solid frame, but he plays with a narrow base that he doesn’t offer up much power. He can be a little top heavy which will lead to lunging, and he doesn’t have the raw strength to make up the difference. And while he does have the most pro experience, he’s only logged one game at guard.

Asim Richards

Why he’s a good fit:
He is a disciplined run blocker as he attacks defenders with good angles and does a great job sealing blocks. His footwork into the second level is above average and his strength has improved. There are some traits to work with.

Why he’s not a good fit:
Richards’ strengths make him better suited at tackle. His length, his quickness into his stance, and his experience (37 of his 38 college games have been at left tackle) all point to him being a quality tackle. His upright play style gives him leverage issues and he is slow to adjust his body upon impact.

Matt Waletzko

Why he’s a good fit:
At 6’8”, Waletzko is a giant with exceptional arm length, but he also demonstrates nice footwork to move around well in space. He has quick hands to fight off defenders and a very high football IQ.

Why he’s not a good fit:
Whether it was high school or college, Waletzko’s only been a left tackle. As expected, a guy his size struggles to sustain a good pad level keeping him off balance. He’s a smart player but is slow to react to pass-rushing stunts and his functional strength leaves something to be desired.

Note: Although Terence Steele’s name did come up as a possible left guard option, there’s a good chance those were just words that don’t have any meaning. He’s turned into a quality right tackle and that’s where we see him. If we start to actually see a real reason to entertain this notion, then we’ll evaluate it closer.


Tyler Smith is this team’s best option at left guard. If everyone is healthy, that is likely the best way to go. Outside of that, there aren’t too many other choices that inspire confidence. While not a fan-favorite by any means, Josh Ball could be their next best option, and don’t sleep on another UDFA shining through as T.J. Bass has enough interior OL traits to put him in the conversation. Edoga and Farniok offer some high-floor, last-resort options with both Waletzko and the rookie Richards making little to no sense. Granted, a lot can change once the pads come on and players start showing out in camp, but this matrix provides us with a little better idea of what we’re likely to see going forward.

Who do you think will be the Cowboys starting left guard this season?

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