Cowboys newest undrafted gem could replace important impending free agent

Detroit Lions v Dallas Cowboys
Detroit Lions v Dallas Cowboys / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

The Dallas Cowboys are one of the best teams in football when it comes to signing priority free agents after the NFL Draft. Tony Romo, Drew Pearson and Miles Austin are the Cowboys most notable success stories in that regard, but they've hit home runs in recent years, too.

Cole Beasley, Blake Jarwin, Cooper Rush and Terence Steele (2023 post-ACL regression notwithstanding) are recent success stories. Just this year, Steele, Markquese Bell and Rico Dowdle have all been major contributors to the Cowboys 12-5 finish in the regular season.

In his first year as a starter after moving from linebacker to safety, Bell ranks second on the team with 94 tackles and two forced fumbles. His 79.1 PFF grade is fifth among Dallas' defensive starters and his 87.6 coverage grade is second.

Might the Cowboys have found another gem in the undrafted pool? After starting at left guard on Sunday for the injured Tyler Smith, fans are suddenly bullish on Oregon product T.J. Bass, who looked the part vs the Commanders.

Cowboys may have found another undrafted gem in T.J. Bass

The Commanders were admittedly without star DT Jonathan Allen, but they still had DaRon Payne, who inked a $90 million contract last offseason, and Washington hardly generated any pressure along the interior. Pretty impressive given the Cowboys were without the aforementioned Tyler Smith and All-Pro Zack Martin.

Bass had a rough outing in his first start in Week 3 against the Cardinals, but it's hard to expect much from a undrafted lineman in his first game. The entire offensive line was out of sync being it was down three starters: Martin, Tyron Smith and center Tyler Biadasz.

Speaking of Biadasz, look for the Cowboys to experiment with Bass as his potential replacement next season. Biadasz is a free agent and Dallas might let him walk given they'll prioritize other players in free agency and have multiple contract extensions to get done.

Keep an eye on No. 66 in the below video. At the 40-second mark, Bass can be seen holding his block some 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage to create a running lane for Tony Pollard. Bass powered his way to the second level a handful of times vs Washington for a solid Pollard run.

Here's Bass delivering another key block on a long Rico Dowdle run.

The Cowboys might have found something in Bass. He's still raw, but he's put starting potential on tape in less than 350 snaps in year one. His positional flexibility means Dallas could groom him into Biadasz's replacement at center in 2024, or as Martin's potential long-term successor at right guard.

Either way, Bass looks to be the Cowboys' latest in a long list of undrafted gems. With Martin and Tyron Smith getting up there in age, Bass' emergence could allow Dallas' offensive line to have sustained success in the future.

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