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More OL, No Problem: Dallas Cowboys’ Offensive Line Depth an Incredible Asset

Entering the 2019 NFL Draft, there wasn’t a ton of talk about the Dallas Cowboys spending a premium pick on an offensive lineman. There were thoughts the Cowboys might draft a tackle in the fourth round or later to prepare for the eventual departure of one of their starting tackles. Well, in the third round, with the 90th pick in the draft, the front office did just that when they selected Offensive Lineman Connor McGovern out of Penn State University.

It was a selection that was met with a collective “who?” from Cowboys Nation as his name didn’t seem on any Cowboys pre-draft visitor lists. There wasn’t even a mention of the Dallas Cowboys meeting with McGovern during the pre-draft process. They must have really liked what they saw on tape so much that they didn’t need to meet with McGovern.

With the selection of McGovern, the Cowboys offensive line has incredible depth heading into the 2019 season. Remember back to the early part of the Jason Garrett era when the Cowboys struggled to field five starting quality offensive linemen? Now, one could argue, the Cowboys have nine offensive lineman that could be a starter in the NFL.

If this is your starting offensive line heading into 2019…

  • Tyron Smith – Left Tackle
  • Connor Williams – Left Guard
  • Travis Frederick – Center
  • Zack Martin – Right Guard
  • La’el Collins – Right Tackle

… and these are your primary backups…

  • Cameron Fleming – Tackle
  • Xavier Su’a-Filo – Guard
  • Joe Looney – Center
  • Connor McGovern – Guard

… the Dallas Cowboys could field almost two complete starting units this preseason. If there’s an injury on the offensive line during the offseason, the Cowboys have three backups who have started games in the NFL and McGovern who they had a second round grade on.

This doesn’t even take into account the UDFA’s that they’ve added in Larry Allen Jr., Brandon Knight, Mitch Hyatt, and Derrick Puni. Historically, it’s been difficult for UDFA offensive lineman to find a role on this Cowboys, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be able to.

There is still a question with Travis Frederick’s health as he continues to recover from Guillen-Barre syndrome, which was diagnosed last offseason. If the positive reports continue, then Frederick should return to the starting lineup. His presence will be a huge addition to the offense for 2019. Joe Looney was good in his absence, but Frederick is one of the two or three best players at his position in the NFL. As good as Looney was, getting Frederick back is a significant upgrade.

When we look at the rest of the starting offensive line, the only other question is Tyron Smith. You don’t question his play, but he’s had to miss games each of the last three seasons. When he’s on the field, he’s still one of the best left tackles in the NFL, but at this point in his career he’s likely to miss a couple of games each season. Still, I’d rather have Tyron Smith for 12-14 games a season than not have Tyron Smith.

The Dallas Cowboys will likely carry eight or nine players along their offensive line when they finalize their 53 man roster. With the kind of depth available to them, it’ll probably be nine.

Looking forward to 2020, the Cowboys will have to make a decision at Right Tackle with the probable departure of La’el Collins. Collins is likely to see a pretty decent pay-day when he hits the free agent market and with so much money already invested in the offensive line, they’ll have to supplement with rookie contracts at a couple of spots.

In order to fill that hole, the Dallas Cowboys already have the answer on the roster in Connor Williams. Williams was an All-American tackle at the University of Texas. Though he played guard in 2018 and will be the starting guard in 2019, his best place will be at tackle in the future.

Offensive line is one of those spots on the 53-man roster where it pays to have really good depth. It’s a position that experiences a ton of wear and tear during the season with how physically demanding the position is. As it’s been each of the last five seasons, offensive line is a strength of this team. Not only who they will trot out in the starting lineup, but who they have to plug in if the Cowboys suffer an injury.

The identity of the Dallas Cowboys is set to live on for years to come despite the turnover that will occur in the next year. This offensive line is as deep a position group as there is in the NFL. Hopefully we don’t have to see that depth put into action.

What do you think?

John Williams

Written by John Williams

Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual, reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.

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