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Pro Football Focus Ranks Dallas Cowboys 3rd Best OL for 2020

It feels like forever ago that the Dallas Cowboys had a bad offensive line. Back in the early part of the decade, the Cowboys struggled to keep then starter Tony Romo upright. It was so glaring an issue that Head Coach Jason Garrett convinced Owner and General Manager Jerry Jones to switch his philosophy on using a first-round pick at the position, and they did it three times during Garrett’s tenure.

Now with All-Pro Center Travis Frederick retired and a possible competition at left guard, there seems to be some concern about the offensive line. While they may not be as good as the vaunted 2014 or 2016 groups, this offensive line will still be one of the best in 2020.

A couple of days ago, Pro Football Focus released their 2020 offensive line rankings and had your Dallas Cowboys ranked 3rd overall.

Certainly, moving from Travis Frederick to Joe Looney or Tyler Biadasz is a downgrade at the position, at least as things stand now. However, the emergence of La’el Collins as one of the best tackles in the NFL in 2019 more than makes up the difference.

The two offensive lines that ranked higher than the Cowboys were the Indianapolis Colts at number one and the New Orleans Saints at two.

Even as the Cowboys come into the season with questions at two spots along the offensive line, the combination of Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and La’el Collins are a tremendous trio to build around. Even though Tyron Smith hasn’t been the player he was earlier in his career, largely due to injuries, he’s still one of the best left tackles in the NFL. Zack Martin is arguably the best guard in football. La’el Collins breakout 2019 season has thrust him into the conversation of best right tackles in the NFL.

Between Connor Williams and Connor McGovern, they’ll be able to find a quality player to play at left guard. Though Williams hasn’t been a Pro Bowl level player, he’s been serviceable and at times pretty good, like the 2018 playoff game where he held his own against arguably the best player in football, Aaron Donald.

The Dallas Cowboys have built a strong foundation for this team with their offensive line in Smith, Martin, and Collins. Looking around the league you’d be hard-pressed to find a team with a trio as good as the Cowboys. There are questions, but that’s the nature of the NFL. Turnover happens and competitions are created. Generally, they sort themselves out and by the time the Cowboys line up against the Los Angeles Rams in week one, they’ll have an offensive line that’s ready to open holes for Ezekiel Elliott and give Dak Prescott the time to get the ball downfield.

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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  1. Life long Cowboys fan, We don’t have to Start the Fight, WE Need to Finish the Fight!! it. One More For Jerry!!!

  2. I really like our core of (Martin. Collins, Smith) but the real test will be how C Williams and Looney or Biadasz fare. If they can be above avg we will have a dominant line if not then just a good one. Martin was battling a back injury most of last yr and Smith was less then 100%. With them being healthy and the still improving Collins evolving into one of the top 3 tackles in the league I’m excited about the potential. Plus C Williams will have another ur under his belt. The big question is center but I trust the coaching staff to make that call. At any rate we have 2 qualified candidates

  3. Depends on how you want to grade them. On average-yards-per-rush? On number of sacks or QB pressures? On penalties? On points-per-game?

    From a skill level and talent standpoint, you’d be awfully hard-pressed to finder a better and deeper group than this one.

    For me personally I probably look at two key areas: (1) red-zone efficiency (run and pass), and (2) 4th quarter, 4-minute offense … the ability to grind out the clock despite the defense knowing you want to run.

    Nothing better than seeing a demoralized opposing DL late in the game!

  4. A little off subject but wanted to hear opinions on E Elliott. Is it possible he is already past his prime? Obviously 4 yrs into his career he has had a heavy work load as opposed to some backs. Stats notwithstanding he has appeared sluggish and lacking in the burst/power of previous yrs granted the hold out last yr did him no favors. RBs have by far the shortest shelf life of any other position which might explain why he pushed so hard for an extension with 2 yrs left on his contract. He also doesn’t strike me as the most disciplined guy in the world Fine line between good and great

    • I believe Zeke isn’t passed his prime yet. I say 2-3 more years but I wouldnt have paid him as huge a contract as we did. I think we should’ve went with Pollard plus Alfred Morris who we had at the time Zeke was holding out. To me it makes this whole Dak contract a redundant thing because we were more than willing to pay big for Zeke when that money could’ve went towards Dak because as we all know QBs are much more important than RBs

  5. Another Online concern we have is the fact Smith has missed 3 games each of the last 3 years. I believe we are a the point where maybe a OT isn’t a bad investment in a draft in the next couple of years.

    • I think the team has shown that they will continue a steady stream of OL in the draft. They seem to understand where their bread is to be buttered. I assume you are implying that the selections should be 1st round selections, but that is so dependent on where you select. If you are outside of the Top-12, that’s just hard to come by (at least if you are value-minded).

      • Sorry i wasnt clear, I did mean first found talent. To me in the future I think Smith will eventually become a cap casualty. Especially if Covid drops the cap. I’d rather the Cowboys try and trade him. If the Dolphins can get 2 1st rounders for Tunsil. I wonder what a OT desperate team will give us for Turin.

  6. Disagree with the argument that Zeke is past his prime. No other back faces 8man boxes like zeke and he still produces even when Dallas was throwing the ball more frequently. Our line is WAY overrated. T Smith has a 50 year old back he’s no longer the T Smith we love. Martin is the only solid piece we have on the line. Collins needs to move back to G and let zeke take advantage of running in behind Martin and Collins at G. The middle of our line is weak and all NFC east rivals have a solid D line

    • If Collins is the LG, how is running between Collins and Martin (with who knows playing center) better than leaving him at RT (where he is “literally” right next to Martin) and he can run behind them there? And with both being on the right side, Zeke can bounce to either side of their blocks.

      You say the middle of our line is weak, so now you want to put one of those weak links in between Martin and Collins so you can “run behind” them? You lost me ….

      Tyron at 90% is better than 80% percent of the other tackles in this league. This line is top-5 and there’s not a viable football mind alive that would dispute that. They may not have a lot of time left, but the OL is not our issue at this time. If you want to nitpick, we have deficiencies everywhere, like every other team in the league.

    • Tyron Smith may have a bad back but even with a bad back he’s still one of the best left tackles in the NFL, and Zack Martin is more than solid, he’s probably the best right guard in the NFL…. And your way wrong about Collins…. He’s one of the best right tackles in the NFL, so why move him to a position that he’s not as good at!? That doesn’t make any sense!! If he’s one of the best right tackles in the NFL, then the best thing to do is to keep him at right tackle!! And the only part of our line that is weak at the moment is center…. And that’s only because we don’t have a starting center yet, Connor Williams has been getting better and better every year at left guard, so the the only thing for him to do is get even better as time goes by!! If he’s able to hold up against Aaron Donald then he should be considered a really good guard, since there’s a lot of guards in the NFL that have problems doing that!! So again, the only weak part of our o-line is the center position, and even that may be fixed by the end of this season, if not sooner!!

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