Last week, Pro Football Focus set the Cowboys Twitter world on fire by sending out one simple list.
The Top Offensive Lines in the NFL.
Long story short, they had the Cowboys vaunted offensive line 9th, which sent a large portion of our fan base into a frenzy and led to some serious discussion about the status of the team’s offensive line.
PFF’s main reason for sending the Cowboys down in their rankings was that they are enduring turnover at two starting positions. Losing longtime starting right tackle Doug Free, and one of the most underappreciated players on the 2016 roster in Ronald Leary, the Cowboys have to get creative in order to fill out the “starting five.”
Both Leary and Free were solid starters in Dallas, and were certainly underrated by most of the team’s own fan base, but I don’t believe the future at right tackle or left guard is as bleak as some are painting it out to be.
Of course, La’el Collins is sliding to right tackle. You know, the same La’el Collins who showed flashes of greatness during his rookie season in 2015, albeit at guard. There are some questions about just how smooth his transition to tackle will be, but I personally have faith that Collins will be fine on the right side.
What I mostly wanted to discuss today, however, was the Cowboys situation at left guard.
Former first round pick turned “bust” in the eyes of many, Jonathan Cooper has been penciled in as the starter there during the early parts of the offseason. After playing in a handful games for the Cleveland Browns in 2016, Cooper was signed by the Cowboys prior to their playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers.
Dallas decided to keep Cooper for the 2017 season, now giving him a chance to compete for and earn that left guard spot.
While there are legitimate questions about how good Cooper really is, or can be, there is no question that he is in the perfect place to reach his full potential.
Whatever that potential may be.
Playing with All-Pro Tyron Smith to his left and All-Pro Travis Frederick to his right, Cooper will be starting at the most comfortable guard spot in the entire league. No, it will not be easy for Cooper, nor do I expect him to be a great player, but I do believe he can be a solid piece amongst this fearsome line.
No, he’s not great and will be the 5th best starter for sure. But he proved last year he can operate off doubles, and get to the 2nd level https://t.co/HbflJgxhIn
Plus, I actually liked what I saw when watching the tape on Cooper in 2016. Yes, there were inconsistencies, but Cooper showed the ability to operate off double teams well on both DUO and inside/outside zone blocking schemes.
Plays which the Cowboys use a lot of, by the way.
I write all of that to say, we should still have confidence in the Dallas Cowboys offensive line. They still have three of (arguably) the top ten offensive linemen in the league, and now add two players which were once considered to be top draft prospects.
Sure, it might not work, and it might not be as pretty as it has been since 2014. But, I don’t think there is a reason for panic about the changes on this offensive line just yet.