Welcome to the fifth positional preview for the Dallas Cowboys focusing on the offensive line. With training camp now approximately three weeks away, we are finishing up the final offensive unit preview with the big guys that make it all happen. In case you missed any of the previous previews, you can read about the quarterbacks, running backs, receivers or tight ends.
As a reminder of the positional preview process, I will make one bold prediction about the position, describe what the team needs from each player, offer my guess as to who makes the final fifty-three man cut and rank where each starter ranks in comparison to others at his position across the entire NFL.
For all the bashing Jerry Jones takes regarding his GM prowess, or lack thereof, one area he has done exceedingly well is in revamping the offensive line. Four years ago, the offensive line still included Free, as the left tackle, along with Andre Gurode at Center (31) and Leonard Davis (32) at Right Guard. Both were past their prime at this point. The other two spots were filled by average, oft-injured thirty-two year olds in Kyle Kosier and Marc Colombo. Three consecutive first round picks later and a position flip makes Free the “old man” of the group at 30. This is the most talented offensive line the Cowboys have had since 1999 when older players like Mark Stepnoski and Eric Williams merged with younger studs like Flozell Adams and future Hall of Famer Larry Allen. Smith already has a Pro Bowl appearance before the age of 24 and is almost certainly looking forward to many All-Pro mentions. Frederick played like a grizzled veteran as a rookie last year and this year’s rookie, Zack Martin, should be a mirror image of that while Free had a small renaissance, if you will, and once again becoming a reliable option on the right side. At minimum, Martin, Frederick and Smith should be the anchors of this line for the next ten years. Continuity appears to have finally been found in one position at least.