Don’t look now, but the Cowboys have built themselves a pretty damn good offensive line. Coincidentally, the same year (2011) Jason Garrett became the full-time head coach of the Dallas Cowboys was also the same year the Cowboys began to overhaul an atrocious line.
Let’s go over the timeline:
2011: Tyron Smith, OT, USC
Signed a 4yr rookie contract, and started at right tackle to replace a slumping Marc Colombo. In 2012, Smith flipped over the left tackle and has been blocking Romo’s blindside ever since. The Cowboys elected to exercise Smith’s 5th year option, and is locked up. He’ll likely get a new contract soon.
2012: Ron Leary, OG, Memphis
Leary was a priority undrafted free agent in the 2012 draft and fell due to medicals. The Cowboys signed him for 3yrs. Leary was redshirted in 2012. Leary had his knee scoped in the summer of 2013, but was able to play a full season at LG where he replaced a slumping Nate Livings who was also shelved with a knee injury. Leary is scheduled to be a free agent at the end of 2014, but if he holds up, he may get a new deal. Leary has been a steal, but his medicals are still a concern.
2013: Travis Frederick, C, Wisconsin
Everyone wanted a guard during the 2013 draft, but after the Cowboys traded down to the 31st pick fans where in an uproar. There was no way the Cowboys could go with Phil Costa again, so this pick ultimately made a lot of sense. Frederick wanted to prove his worth and he had a hell of a rookie season, the Cowboys hit on the pick. He has stepped in to anchor the offensive line and will make the Pro Bowl this year. Frederick was signed to a 4yr deal with a 5yr option.
2014: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
This guy is durable, powerful, and at the end of the day could be the best offensive lineman taken in this draft. Martin is legit, and his position flex enticed the Cowboys even further. As a fan of NDNation, I saw Martin’s career bloom at Notre Dame, and we have a hell of a player here. The gameplan for Martin is likely for him to play at RG and send Bernadeau into the swing guard position and center back up. After this year, the Cowboys will let Free hit free agency and Martin will move over to RT. The only potential hiccup would then be, who would play RG in 2015?
Say what you will about Jason Garrett, but he’s been instrumental in overhauling the offensive line. He knows the Cowboys did a lot of damage offensively with that Great Wall of the ’90s; which in turn, kept the defense fresh and dominant during this same time. You heard Jerry Jones and Jason talking about having a better line to extend drives and kill the clock to help keep the defense off the field. We are another step closer to having that happen this year. No more gimmicky tight end block schemes. This line is going to get after people this year and I’m excited about it.