Although the Dallas Cowboys finished the 2013 season with one of the worst defenses of all-time, Jerry and Stephen Jones decided to bypass on defense and Johnny Manziel to beef up their offensive line. At the time, the pick was a solid one considering Tony Romo‘s back was a serious problem and new offensive coordinator, at that time, Scott Linehan said the Cowboys were going to lean on the run more.
Zack Martin was a left tackle at Notre Dame. However, given the Cowboys’ zone-blocking scheme, it was thought of that Martin would succeed tremendously at the guard position. Left tackle Tyron Smith and left guard Ronald Leary play well off each other and that’s why Martin was slotted to play the right guard position and, really, the rest was history.
Thanks to Martin, as well as Smith and Travis Frederick, the Cowboys’ offensive line was by far the best in all of football. In fact, the Cowboys’ offensive line could’ve been the best position group in the league. Despite that, it’s not like the Cowboys transformed this group overnight. Since 2011, the Cowboys have spent three of their last four first-round picks on offensive line. For years, Dallas saw how they would not be able to reach the next step with Romo running the show if he didn’t have a good offensive line in front of him. That narrative changed in 2014 because their offensive line was so special and perhaps the biggest reason why was the rookie.
Not only did Romo have his best year in terms of efficiency, the Cowboys had the league-leading rusher on their team in DeMarco Murray. With a vaunted offensive line in front of him, Murray ran for the football 392 times for over 1,800 yards and 13 touchdowns. Thanks to this running game as well as the play from Romo, the Cowboys were one of the best teams in the NFL last season and the crazy thing is that this offensive line is only going to get better. Martin was an All-Pro this year and I wouldn’t be surprised if he repeated the feat for the foreseeable future. Martin was perhaps the best first-round pick from the 2013 NFL Draft.
Stay tuned as I will regrade the DeMarcus Lawrence pick in one of my next articles.