The Dallas Cowboys have drafted well in terms of their offensive line. Center Travis Frederick, left tackle Tyron Smith and right guard Zack Smith provide a young core who will usher their offense into the future. Each of these guys are talented, but which is the most important?
Smith is a powerful, towering individual who is responsible for protecting Tony Romo‘s blindside. He keeps the quarterback from taking monstrous career-ending shots. He usually goes up against the top pass rusher for the opposing squad. He has to be on top of his game every snap of every game. Smith can hold his own with any defender, as well as anybody at the tackle position.
Martin, the rookie from Notre Dame, is one of the most versatile offensive lineman the NFL has to offer. Many say he’s capable of playing any of the spots along the line. The Cowboys have even given him some snaps at center in case something were to happen to Frederick. If Martin were to go down, there is no doubt the depth of the offensive line would take a massive hit because he can step in for any struggling or injured player. With some years under his belt, I think Martin could be the most important, but right now, who knows if he can sustain success at the next level?
My pick for the most important player is Frederick. The Cowboys caught a lot of flack for drafting him in the first round in 2013, but he proved to be worth the pick. He played extremely well in his first season. I think a lot of people believe the offensive line consists of massive, unintelligent men who just rely on their brawn to make plays. The center position takes a lot of brain power. These guys are responsible for diagnosing the defense and initially adjusting protection.
It’s true that Romo has the ability to change things, but Frederick controls the ability to make things easy for Romo to process. It’s no coincidence that Peyton Manning and Jeff Saturday were an incredible duo during their years for the Indianapolis Colts. The center can let the quarterback focus on adjusting to the post-snap reads. Just like any normal job, when we are able to sit back and focus on a couple tasks, we can execute the gameplan in a timely and precise manner. When we have to sort through a cluttered mess, it’s easy for the mind to stray and become confused.
There’s no doubt that losing any of these guys would be catastrophic for Dallas, but the direct relationship Frederick has with Romo is unique and vital to the success of the entire offense.