Who Will Be The Dallas Cowboys Fab Five?


After the 2014 season was all said and done, the Dallas Cowboys had three offensive lineman named to the Pro Bowl, two of which were also named first team All-Pro by the Associated Press.  The other was named a second team All-Pro.

No other team had more than one person named to the illustrious list.

Quarterback Tony Romo was sacked less (29 times) in 2014 than he had been in any other season where he played more than 14 games since the 2007 season.  The Cowboys also finished in the top five in the league in all the major rushing metrics.

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All of that made it easy to anoint the Cowboys offensive line as the best in the game.

Now, as we finish the first rookie training camp of the new season, it seems like an embarrassment of riches, but it’s very possible that this unit actually will be better in 2015.

The Cowboys utilized two draft picks on offensive linemen, selecting Florida tackle Chaz Green and Virginia Tech tackle Laurence Gibson, however the biggest gift (literally) that could have fallen into their laps was the choice made by a player to come to them.

LSU tackle La’el Collins, fresh off of exonerating his name from an unfortunate murder investigation, decided after going undrafted to come be a Dallas Cowboy.

So, as it stands now, the Cowboys have five guys who have 30+ starts in the NFL as their respective positions.  Another guy just had possibly the best season for a rookie offensive lineman in the last twenty years and in addition, they landed one of the top three line prospects in the 2015 draft.

The only “problem” the Cowboys have in regards to their offensive line is choosing which five guys to start.

Head Coach Jason Garrett, always one to believe in fostering competitive battles for every job, has stated early that the best five guys will start and has emphasized position flexibility.  To that end, expect all three rookies to get work at both guard spots, even though all were tackles nominally during their college career.

Don’t be shocked to see All-Pro Guard Zack Martin also get some work at right tackle as well as center during OTA’s and parts of camp.  This will almost certainly be more for the purpose of cross-training however.

Ultimately, Martin (right guard), left tackle Tyron Smith and Center Travis Frederick are locks to be the starters at those positions.  The final two spots are where the intrigue comes into play.

Prior to the unexpected addition of someone of Collins’ ilk, the Cowboys re-signed right tackle Doug Free to a three year deal worth $15M, including a $4.5M signing bonus and $6M guaranteed.  That’s a lot of money to pay someone to be a backup.

Yes, you want your most talented and most deserving players to get the majority of the playing time but money matters too.  I cannot envision a scenario in which Free makes $3M this year to be the swing tackle.  Let’s pencil him in at the right tackle spot, but you can press down real hard with that pencil.

The reverse case of Free may be backup interior lineman Mackenzy Bernadeau.  He represents the exact type of versatility you want in a player, proficient in both guard spots as well as center.  He also will represent a cap figure of $2.82M for this season.  It would be a major shock if he won a starting spot.  At this point, he needs to play his best just to keep a roster spot.

The final starting spot, that of left guard, will likely come down to Collins and incumbent Ronald Leary.  Both were undrafted free agents who got large, guaranteed deals to come to Dallas.  Collins has the talent and actually projects best to the left guard position but Leary has the experience.

Leary has also been extremely productive.  Cowboys running backs have averaged over six yards per carry running to the left during his time in Dallas.  Sure, Smith is the best left tackle in the game but Leary more than holds his own.

Both options make a pauper’s sum in relation to the talent they possess so whoever loses the battle will still be an economical option as a backup.  At the end of the day, I think Collins ends up winning the left guard spot and Leary is the backup swing option.

All in all, the depth, versatility and talent that the Dallas Cowboys have on their offensive line is a problem that 31 other teams wish they had.

May the best men win.

Next: Will The Dallas Cowboys Running Game Suffer In 2015?