The Dallas Cowboys are coming off their third straight 8-8 season. Fans are left wondering when this run of mediocrity will end. Dallas heads into the offseason with many questions to answer: which Players will be back, who may be let go, and who will they look at in the draft? Here, I continue my breakdown of the Cowboys’ roster, position by position, by focusing on the offensive line.
Heading into last season, one of the biggest concerns for Dallas fans was the offensive line. To the surprise of many, the offensive line actually became a major strength of the team. They opened up holes for Demarco Murray to run through, and they protected Tony Romo.
The anchor of the line is left tackle Tyron Smith, who has continually improved in his first three seasons. He went head to head with some of the best defensive linemen in the NFL and held up very well. He is one of the best draft picks Dallas has made in the past five years, and he should be the anchor of the Cowboys’ line for the next 10 years.
The left guard for Dallas is Ronald Leary. Leary is a player that the Cowboys like a lot, but he does have injury issues. Last season, he was able to stay healthy and be productive. If he is able to continue staying healthy, the Cowboys should be fine at left guard.
Last year, Dallas used their first-round pick on center Travis Frederick. Despite some people questioning the pick, he had a very solid rookie season. Frederick gave the Cowboys what they had been missing in the middle of the line. He has a little bit of “nasty” to his game. He plays with an attitude, and that is something Dallas has been lacking.
Dallas convinced Brian Waters to come out of retirement to be their starting right guard, but after the veteran suffered a season-ending injury early in the season, Dallas had to turn to Mackenzy Bernadeau. Bernadeau was solid and able to hold his own. Dallas now has to decide if they should try to talk Waters into coming back, go with Bernadeau again, or if they should look to improve that position in the draft.
The most surprising aspect of the offensive line was the resurgence of right tackle Doug Free. After a horrendous 2012 that gained Free the nickname of “the human turnstile”, he had a great bounce-back year in 2013. Free was a major reason for the offensive line’s improvements.
As Dallas gets ready for the draft in May, will they look at picking offensive linemen? I believe you can never have too many linemen. Players get injured, and competition is a good thing. While I do not believe that the offensive line is the top need for Dallas, if there is a good lineman available, they should definitely take him.