By the end of the 2017 regular season could the Dallas Cowboys see as many as four of their offensive lineman get Pro Bowl nominations?
Around the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys are known for possessing one of the scariest positional groups in all of football. And that’s the best offensive line in the game.
With three perennial Pro Bowlers in left tackle Tyron Smith, center Travis Frederick and right guard Zack Martin, the Cowboys have put together a dominate unit that can take over NFL games. And amazingly, they are all still so young, each at only 26-years of age.
Dallas paid a pretty penny for each of them as well, using a first round selection in each of their respective drafts to build the unit from the ground up.
But this offseason, the Cowboys O-line took two big hits. First, starting right tackle Doug Free up and retired after 10 years in Dallas. Second, left guard Ronald Leary found a big payday in free agency signing a four-year, $36 million contract to join the Denver Broncos.
Fortunately for the Cowboys, they signed a first round level talent two years ago in LSU offensive lineman La’el Collins. As probably the greatest undrafted rookie free agent in league history, Collins had fallen from a projected Top 15 pick to out of the draft entirely after he was questioned in the murder investigation of a pregnant woman he had a very brief relationship with.
Following the draft, Collins cleared his name and ended up signing a modest three-year, $1.7 million deal in Dallas. The former Tiger started 11 games during his rookie season, replacing Leary at left guard along the offensive line. Last season, Collins was limited to three games due a toe injury that landed him on Injured Reserve.
With Collins returning from his injury this offseason, and due to the fact he was in the final year of his rookie deal, the Cowboys decided to sign the 24-year old to a two-year, $15.4 million extension that will keep him in Dallas through 2019.
Although some believe Collins would return to start at the left guard position this offseason, the Cowboys appear set to place him at right tackle, Free’s old spot. And according to one insider, it looks like the young man is going to be very good in his new role.
"“…my gut tells me La’el Collins is about to be a superstar in this league,” wrote longtime Cowboys insider Nick Eatman on the team official website Friday. “I really like everything I’ve seen from him, starting this offseason in the OTAs and minicamp and then of course, this first week here at camp. Remember when there was supposed to be a competition at right tackle? That was just a couple of months ago, and now, not only is he the starter on the right side, he’s one of the wealthiest right tackles in all of football and he’s never even played it in the NFL.”"
If La’el Collins is indeed the upgrade many believe him to be at right tackle, the Dallas Cowboys could have as many as four offensive lineman heading to the Pro Bowl in 2017. And if that happens, the status of this already highly-regarded O-line will become legend…wait for it…dary.