There was a collective gulp among Cowboys Nation when their week 2 starting lineup was announced.
No Tyron Smith, no La’el Collins. No chance. Right?
Well, while Brandon Knight and Terence Steele are not All Pros, both played reasonably well during the Cowboys week two victory. Brandon Knight, however, stole the show both on tape and by the numbers.
ESPN’s Pass Block Win Rate was developed to analytically evaluate offensive line play. Some of the expected regulars are among the league’s best through two weeks – Lane Johnson, Tyron Smith, and Ronnie Stanley for example. But Brandon Knight is now top 10 in PBWR this season at 96%.
When I read that stat my jaw dropped. Knight, the former undrafted free agent out of Indiana, was apparently penciled in behind both Steele and Cameron Erving before the season. But after just one game there’s no question he needs to be the first tackle off the bench once this offensive line gets healthy.
Knight’s performance on tape matches this ESPN stat. While he struggles to move people in the run game and doesn’t have the “ideal” length and strength for an offensive tackle, his technique as a pass blocker is textbook. Knight did a really good job on Dante Fowler Jr., and kept Dak Prescott upright when the team was in obvious passing situations all second half.
Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said that LT Brandon Knight stepped in well Sunday vs. Falcons after Tyron Smith injured neck during last Thursday’s practice. “That’s something we can build off.”
With a little more development, conditioning, and strength Brandon Knight could easily develop into a starting tackle in this league.
For now, though, he is the perfect insurance policy behind the often injured Tyron Smith. The Cowboys go into every season knowing Smith is going to miss a handful of games, and finding a player like Knight as an undrafted free agent is a home run.
When either Smith or Collins get back first, Knight should be the one starting on the opposite side.