1. Offensive line depth
On paper, the Cowboys look set on their offensive line. Tyron Smith this the LT, Tyler Smith is the LG, Tyler Biadasz is the C, Zack Martin is at RG, and Terence Steele is at RT. Things don’t get much better than that in today’s NFL.
As Cowboys fans know all-too-well, “on paper” doesn’t always equal reality. Martin was in the midst of a tenuous holdout. Tyron Smith is notoriously fragile (averaging under six regular season games per season over the last three years). Steele is coming off a major knee injury suffered late in 2022. And Biadasz has missed time in camp with his own recent injury scare.
There is so much risk in play across the Dallas starting offensive line, it’s imperative the depth of the unit runs deep and performs capably.
Spoiler alert: they aren’t
Matt Waletzko, Josh Ball, Matt Farniok and Chuma Edoga have all struggled in practice this summer. As former drafts picks, all were expected to step up their respective games, yet at this point, only Farniok looks capable of capably taking regular season snaps.
All offseason, the Cowboys spoke glowingly of Waletzko and Edoga. Top brass repeatedly brought up those names, unprompted, as reasons for optimism in 2023. Neither have performed well.
With Martin holding out, Farniok had been the top option at RG. While he’s looked capable, he’s hardly ideal. And it probably goes without saying the falloff from Martin to Farniok is significant. In fact, the Cowboys moved Farniok from guard to center after his prolonged struggles at the former position in camp.
Between now and the end of the preseason, it’s imparitive the Cowboys find decent injury substitutes on their depth chart because there’s a good chance they’ll have to dive deeper than Farniok.