The Dallas Cowboys certainly have two of the most recognizable names at offensive tackle in the league but are they the best duo?
When the Dallas Cowboys were on the clock in the 2011 NFL draft but opted to take USC Tackle, Tyron Smith. I think they took him not only because of his god-given abilities but because of how young he was.
Entering his ninth year, it seems like the Dallas Cowboys made the correct choice as he is still only 29 years old. There is some chatter that Tyron has lost a step but by watching his film, you cannot definitively tell me that his play has declined in any way.
Health is my only concern when it comes to Tyron who has missed 13 games in his NFL career. It is evident how much the Dallas Cowboys miss him whenever he is out of the lineup so trading the guy is not in my vocabulary right now.
Right tackle La’el Collins is a rising star that I admittedly was initially wrong about. When the Dallas Cowboys moved him to tackle, I was totally against this move and thought that his best position was at guard. His footwork had been inconsistent but he was an absurdly strong man that could move people against their will.
I was totally convinced when I saw him up close at in training camp at Oxnard this past season. I was first amazed at how large this human being was but surprised at how easily he moved. The offensive line was doing this drill where the coach would roll a ball towards the lineman and the player had to slap it back to them alternating sides.
La’el Collins did bend at the waist really well but did not have to go very far because his arms were like vines and almost touched the ground. This is where I instantly knew I was wrong and knew his arms would help him out in pass protection.
It was also evident that he had been working on his footwork as well as he moved more naturally in pass protection and showed much-improved pass sets. He also stonewalled almost every opponent he faced in live drills. It is a shame that Collins was not recognized as he should have been this past year because he is about to become a household name.
So where do these Dallas Cowboys’ bookends rank amongst the rest of the NFL?
The duo in New Orleans is pretty good with Ryan Ramczyk and Terron Armstead but I attribute that more to the offense emphasizing getting the ball out quicker than most offense’s. Interior lineman are more important to Brees than the tackle’s because he is more affected by pressure up the middle than he is the outside.
Drew Brees has also had longer drop backs which enables the tackles to take shorter pass sets and allow the defender to run around the tackles which allows Brees to step up and deliver the football. This buys him, and the tackle’s more time for the quarterback.
I will say that Ramczyk is a prototypical tackle while Armstead is super athletic but uses his agility more than most because he is undersized. Armstead cannot use his size like the bookends in Dallas so I have Dallas rated higher than this group.
The tandem of Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown Jr. are very good and very young but Baltimore runs this quirky college option offense and they rarely rely on these guys to regularly pass protect traditionally like the rest of the NFL. This brings them down a notch for me but it does not say that they can’t do it.
These guys are still pretty good and excel at the run game albeit lineman prefer to run block rather than pass protect as it is much easier to seek and destroy than catch and mirror. I also have this duo behind the guys in Dallas.
The Kansas City duo of Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz are very good but certainly not enough to compare them to what the Dallas Cowboys have. The same is true in Indianapolis as Anthony Costanzo and Braden Smith are very good but not in the elite portion of the list.
One group that I do have my eye on is the San Francisco pairing of Mike McGlinchey and Trent Williams. Williams is a premier left tackle that did not play last year but if he can pick up where he left off, this duo could rise and threaten the Dallas Cowboys tandem.
McGlinchey is more of a technician at tackle but is very good and fits the west coast offense to perfection over in San Francisco. It didn’t matter who ran the ball for the 49ers this past year as whoever had the ball had daylight all season.
The Bottom line is the pairing of left tackle Tyron Smith who is the most gifted tackle in the league and La’el Collins, who played at a Pro Bowl level last year are the two tackle tandem that I would take. Both can pass protect as well as anyone in the league but both are dominant run defenders as well.