If there’s one thing, and only one thing, that Cowboys Twitter can seem to agree upon during games, it’s their disdain for right tackle Doug Free.
And listen, I get it. Of the five starters he is probably the weakest link, and seems to be called for a holding and/or pre-snap penalty once a game. I would also argue, however, that if given the help that other offensive tackles are given, Free would be much better in pass protection. In addition, we tend to remember Free’s negatives, like being called for a holding on a long Ezekiel Elliott run, more than the positives, like his pancake block a few plays later.
But I digress.
The bottom line is, Free is getting up there in age, and his ability has certainly taken a hit. While he may be underrated by many, the fact still remains that an upgrade would be beneficial to the team.
Some are already suggesting the Cowboys take a look in this year’s draft class to find their next right tackle, or at the very least a swing tackle for 2017. Free is entering the final year of his contract in 2017, and an extension from Dallas is probably not likely. So, right tackle must be addressed in some fashion pretty soon.
Enter Chaz Green.
The Cowboys third round pick in 2015, Green has seen very limited action in his first two seasons in Dallas. This is due to two things: one, the consistency of the current starting offensive tackles, and two, his own health issues.
Green has been flat-out unable to stay on the field so far in his career, missing most of the 2016 season with a herniated disc.
While Green’s injury problems are a concern, he actually played well when filling in for All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith early in the season. In two games against the Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers, Green started at left tackle and played better than anyone had seen him play before in Dallas. He had an abysmal start to the preseason against the Los Angeles Rams, but his performance from there on out was stellar.
No, I am not saying that Chaz Green is the next Tyron Smith, and I am not even saying that Green will be better than current starting right tackle Doug Free in 2017. But the team drafted Green within the first three rounds in 2015. That means that he is expected to contribute to the team during his time here, and if he can remain healthy, the plan seems to be to start him at right tackle as soon as 2017, but most likely in 2018.
If Green cannot stay healthy and doesn’t pan out for the Cowboys, that 2015 draft begins to look a lot like failure, with second round pick Randy Gregory being suspended for yet another period of time next season.