David Arkin. James Marten. Robert Brewster. Sam Young. Bill Nagy. Al Johnson. Rob Petitti. Jacob Rogers. Stephen Peterman. E.J. Whitley. Pat McQuistan.
What do these names have in common? All were drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the past decade plus and none are still with the team.
Montrae Holland. Kyle Kosier. Alex Barron. Marc Colombo. Leonard Davis. Jason Fabini. Marco Rivera.
What do these names have in common? All were attempts at upgrading the offensive line through free agency in the past decade plus. Also, none remain with the team.
A absolute revolving door of mediocrity.
For the better part of a decade, the Cowboys have struggled with consistently protecting their quarterback and running the football. Despite solid numbers here and there, any fans who watch more than a few games a season will tell you that the Cowboys MUST run the football better.
Following a slew of excellent draft moves and free agent signings, Dallas is primed for it’s offensive line to have it’s best season since Larry Allen and Nate Newton were in town.
Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan believes in their abilities to run the football this season.
“This is a great young front, it was already an offensive line that was really meshing and playing well. We don’t have to have this certain look to run the ball. We feel like we can line up and say, ‘Hey, if they’re going to drop guys into the box, we still feel like we’ve got the guys that can get it done.’ And then that helps everything. That opens everything on the outside of the field.”
How was the 2014 Cowboy offensive line built?
- 2007 team drafts Northern Illinois T Doug Free, 4th round
- 2011 team drafts USC T Tyron Smith, 1st round
- 2012 team signs Memphis G Ronald Leary as an undrafted free agent
- 2012 team signs free agent G Mackenzy Bernadeau
- 2012 team signs free agent T Jermey Parnell
- 2013 team drafts Wisconsin C Travis Frederick, 1st round
- 2014 team drafts Notre Dame T Zack Martin, 1st round
Despite MANY misses on offensive linemen in the recent past, the Cowboys secured the bulk of the likely 2014 starters via the NFL draft. They have spent premium picks and expect to get premium results.
The early returns are promising with this group to say the least. Tyron Smith made the Pro Bowl in 2013 and is still just 23. Travis Frederick looked like a pro bowler at times during his rookie season. Leary and Bernadeau each had their best seasons in Dallas in 2013. Doug Free rebounded very well from a sub-par 2012 and had one of his better efforts last year as well.
These 7 offensive linemen I listed, barring injuries, will make up the bulk of the Dallas Cowboys 2014 offensive line. Tyron Smith and Doug Free look like the tackles. Travis Frederick will be the center and rookie Zack Martin will look to beat out Bernadeau or Leary for a starting spot.
Parnell will be an experienced backup along with the loser of the guard battle. Tackle Darrion Weems and guard Ronald Patrick seem to have the upper hand in making the team in case of injuries or surprise releases.
Perhaps the most intriguing factor with this collection of linemen is it’s potential for positional flexibility. Doug Free and Tyron Smith can and have played both tackle positions. Travis Frederick has taken practice snaps at guard. Bernadeau can and has played center.
Rookie Zack Martin even got some action at center recently and head coach Jason Garrett talked about it.
“We viewed him as a guy who could potentially play five offensive line spots when we drafted him, he’s certainly done a very good job at guard. We’ll try to give him some snaps at center as well.”
It goes without saying how important having the ability to play multiple positions on the offensive line is.
Consistency, flexibility, aggression, and intelligence. Those words will describe the offensive line this season. EVERYTHING starts up front in order for Dallas to have the success it craves on offense this season. Games will be won offensively in the trenches for the Cowboys in 2014. We are well equipped to fight that battle.