There is no denying that this unit has been the teams best in 2013. They have been able to protect Romo and provide holes for a running attack. They have given the protection that has allowed this team to do something that hasn’t been done since the triplets were playing for this team. Tony Romo (3,000 yards passing), DeMarco Murray (1,000 yards rushing) and Dez Bryant (1,000 yards receiving) achieved those feats in large part due to the play of the offensive line. It all starts with their franchise left tackle Tyron Smith.
LT Tyron Smith
You would be hard pressed to find a left tackle that is playing at a higher level than that of Smith. He has been dominating defensive ends and he can get out on screens and run with the best of them. The greatest part of Smith is that this is his 3rd season and he is only 22 years old. He has that tackle spot all shored up for at least the next decade.
PFF Run Grade: +6.9
PFF Pass Grade: +17.8
PFF Penalty Grade: +3.1
PFF Overall Grade: +28.8
LG Ronald Leary
It is without question that the Dallas Cowboys had a weakness at the offensive guard position. Nate Livings was released opening up the door for undrafted free agent Ronald Leary. With the Living release they had to pay $2.4 million to a guy who wouldn’t play a single snap on this much maligned offensive line. Garrett and Callahan were banking on this unproven guard to play big for them. He did well early and struggled late. Moving forward the Cowboys may want to bring in some competition for next years camp.
PFF Run Grade: -3.0
PFF Pass Grade: -6.3
PFF Penalty Grade: +1.4
PFF Overall Grade: -7.9
Many fans scratched their head when the Cowboys traded back to the 31st selection in the NFL Draft and they were shocked when Travis Frederick was selected. Even Frederick himself was surprised to be taken in the first round. However, Frederick has really been solid for this team especially in the run game. He posted the best run grade of any lineman on this team. He was also atop the list for centers across the NFL. He will be a solid contributor for years to come.
PFF Run Grade: +17.9
PFF Pass Grade: -6.4
PFF Pentaly Grade: +0.2
PFF Overall Grade: +13.2
RG Mackenzy Bernadeau
Early on in the season Bernadeau was struggling and was pulled in favor of recently un-retired Brian Waters. However, when Waters went down with a torn triceps muscle Mackenzy was asked to step back in. He played much better down the stretch which kept this running game moving in the right direction. With Bernadeau playing well the Cowboys can focus on defensive line in the draft this coming season.
PFF Run Grade: +8.1
PFF Pass Grade: -2.0
PFF Penalty Grade: +1.9
PFF Overall Grade: +8.5
RT Doug Free
Was there a player more vilified last season than Doug Free? You would have a hard time convincing me other wise. Doug Free had to take a paycut to remain with this team based on his play in 2012 and the contract that he had. This year he has proved he was well worth keeping around. He was the second best lineman on this team and still has another year on his deal. Expect Free to return and play well for this team.
PFF Run Grade: +1.9
PFF Pass Grade: +14.4
PFF Penalty Grade: +1.1
PFF Overall Grade: +17.9
RG Brian Waters: I don’t expect Waters to return in 2014 but there is that option. With the current salary cap issues it would have to be a cheap deal.
C Phil Costa: Under contract for 2014 but with his contract the Cowboys could release him and save $1.5 million.
OT Jeremy Parnell: The same situation as Phil Costa.
OT Darrion Weems: Weems is under contract for 2014 and has a much smaller contract than that of Costa and Parnell. He is most likely to return out of the three backup linemen.
C Ryan Cook: Cook is a free agent after the season and there is no reason the Cowboys would bring him back next season.
Moving forward I don’t foresee a big push for offensive linemen in the upcoming NFL Draft unless someone that they really like falls in their lap. Look for a lineman in the mid rounds and one name I am intrigued by is Miami (Fla) guard Brandon Linder.
Offensive Linemen to watch:
Brandon Linder, OG, Miami (Fla)
David Yankey, OG, Stanford
Cyrus Richardson, OG, Baylor
Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State
Anthony Steen, OG, Alabama
JaWuan James, OT, Tennessee
Billy Turner, OT, North Dakota State
La’el Collins, OT, Louisiana State