Dallas Cowboys are undergoing a renaissance on their offensive line

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

This offseason, the Dallas Cowboys identified a problem and addressed said problem. The problem: their aging offensive line that was more reputation than production. The solution: retool without rebuild.

The Cowboys, as a whole, are built to win now. They can’t afford a full rebuild anywhere on the team, let alone on such a pivotal unit like the O-line. So when it became glaringly apparent the O-line needed an overhaul, they dedicated their top resources to the task and they did so without scraping the entire unit as we know it.

The Dallas Cowboys retooled their offensive line this offseason and hope it was enough to get back on top.

Besides Zack Martin at right guard, the Dallas Cowboys have questions everywhere across their line. Will their left tackle Tyron Smith stay healthy enough to be a reliable force in 2022? Will Terence Steele continue his progression at right tackle and turn into a plus NFL player?

Can the rookie Tyler Smith make the position change from LT to RG his first year as a pro? Will Tyler Biadasz fend off the competition at center? Will Josh Ball and/or Matt Waletzko prove to be capable back-up tackles? Will any of this improve the unit over the mess it was last season?

That last question is the million dollar question and if any of above questions are issues into the season, they threaten to unravel the whole dang thing.

Gut Feelings

The Dallas Cowboys were smart to dedicate time and draft picks to the offensive line this offseason but the moves they made probably won’t be enough to fix all the issues in 2022. First, the Cowboys lost two former starters and did exactly zero to replace them in free agency.

At the very least this kneecaps their depth. But then in the draft they acted as if they had all the time in the world by drafting two project players. Upside? You bet your rear-end Smith and Waletzko have upside. Possibly the most in the class and likely the reason they were drafted by Dallas. But projects nonetheless.

As we discussed at the start of free agency – the Cowboys want to compete in 2022 but their eyes are on 2023. They are clearing the deck of dead weight this year all so they can flex in 2023 when they onboard their next head coach (yes, we’re sticking to the idea McCarthy is coaching his last season).

Tyler Smith is going to struggle in 2022. His shear strength and athleticism says he’ll have some highlights as well, but for as raw as he is, he’s going to be a downgrade from what Connor Williams was the past few seasons.

Tyron Smith is still a boarder-line elite LT in the NFL, it’s his durability that’s the problem. If he misses over four games the Cowboys are going to be in trouble. The trickle-down effect of an injured Tyron is ugly so the number of games missed is key to the Cowboys’ O-line success.

I’m optimistic about Terence Steele, Tyler Biadasz, and Zack Martin, though. Steele is ascending at a phenomenal rate and the Dallas Cowboys brought in enough competition at center to push Biadasz to new levels.

As a whole, I expect the O-line to improve. But it’s going to have it’s bad moments and the real gains are a little further down the road.

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The Dallas Cowboys started a multiyear retooling process of the offensive line this year. “Multi-year” being the operative descriptor. They are getting back to an offensive line built on power and it’s long overdue.