The Dallas Cowboys have a good starting offensive line. Once Zack Martin returns, the group should look as follows:
- LT Tyron Smith
- LG Tyler Smith
- C Tyler Biadasz
- RG Zack Martin
- RT Terence Steele
That’s a good looking unit. Of course, with Tyron Smith’s continual struggles to keep himself on the field, it’s hard to feel too comfortable and it becomes very important to find quality depth pieces. The team has several backup options, but none of those players have impressed enough to lock down things going forward.
With the team’s first preseason game upon us, we will all be treated to a good look at these backup guys. Unfortunately, that game will not feature veteran swing tackle Chuma Edoga who suffered a hyperextended knee injury in Thursday’s practice. That still leaves several players trying to earn a role on this team. Which ones will step up and move towards securing a roster spot? Here are six of the team’s best remaining offensive lineman depth guys who we should keep tabs on Saturday.
75 JOSH BALL
The third-year offensive lineman hasn’t been able to inspire confidence in the fanbase since he’s been with the team. It also doesn’t help that he struggled in his limited time at swing tackle after Terence Steele was hurt in the Houston Texans game last year.
Ball brings a good dose of size and athleticism to his play. He’s able to move well and possesses enough strength to hold off defenders. He can climb to the second level and he brings enough versatility to play inside and out. Some will leave him off their 53-man roster predictions, but from a traits perspective, Ball still has the talent and he now has another camp under his belt to fix some of the little things. The Cowboys staff seems to like him as he’s the guy filling in for Zack Martin with the first team, so don’t count him out just yet.
68 MATT FARNIOK
You’d think that Farniok would be the obvious “next man up” interior lineman considering that’s the role he held last year and there hasn’t been anyone added to truly threaten him. And maybe he is. Farniok is a player who uses his smarts to position himself well for his blocks. He’s quick and clever in his approach, but just doesn’t have the strength to match up well against some of the stronger tackles in the league.
Farniok’s roster spot is safe as he provides a solid floor as a reserve, but where he actually finishes in the pecking order remains to be seen. The team would love a more powerful option to emerge, but Farniok’s savvy play and position flex to handle backup center duties makes him a valuable asset.
79 MATT WALETZKO
The second-year tackle didn’t see much action last year thanks to re-aggravating a shoulder injury that hindered him in college. The 6’8” giant brings some good length to the outside. Waletzko has nifty feet and quick hands to fend off pass rushers. He’s also a very cerebral player who maximizes his ability.
Balance can be a bit of an issue for him as one might expect for a guy with his build. With inconsistent pad level, he can lose leverage at times which has been on display in camp against some of the team’s better pass rushers. Waletzko also doesn’t possess great functional strength and was never really a viable option to move inside, but if he can continue to develop, he still has some swing tackle appeal for this team.
67 BROCK HOFFMAN
One guy who might get lost in the shuffle of things is backup center Brock Hoffman. The Cowboys picked him up after being released by the Cleveland Browns last year. Hoffman is a strong player who exhibits good pad level and has a fighting chance against more physical tackles. He also shows happy feet which helps him adjust to blocks and move around in the second level.
Hoffman is a guy who was already on our radar as we talked about him being a possible Tyler Biadasz replacement last month. With the team still lacking a true interior lineman option, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him sneak on this roster yet again.
76 ASIM RICHARDS
Fans were excited when the team was able to get the North Carolina product in the fifth round of April’s draft. Richards is a fundamentally sound run blocker who swiftly chooses good angles to seal. His footwork and strength are fair, but all his skills make him better suited at tackle and right now there is quite a logjam at the position.
Considering his draft stock, you have to believe the team will give him every opportunity to make this roster. That said, it’s been a quiet camp for the rookie thus far. With his progress a little behind schedule, Richards seems primed for one of those mysterious “injuries” that pop up last minute that fortuitously allows the team to stash him on IR for more development time.
66 T.J. BASS
Another player the Cowboys would love to find room for is Oregon guard T.J. Bass. A true guard in college, Bass not only brings more interior line experience, but he also has the strength and pad-level discipline to hold his own in the trenches.
The Cowboys are notorious for finding OL gems who come out of nowhere to suddenly have a role on the team with Steele being their most recent success story. Bass may not be quite ready yet, but he has the traits to be an eventual depth guy on this team.