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Will The Cowboys’ Offensive Line Miss RT Doug Free In 2017?

Brian Martin

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Will Cowboys' Offensive Line Miss RT Doug Free In 2017?

There is no denying the Dallas Cowboys offensive line is arguably the best in the NFL. That is in large part due to their three Pro Bowlers, Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin. These three players receive the majority of the credit, and rightfully so, but let's not forget how much Doug Free has been able to do during his time with America's Team.

Yes, you read that right. I am actually giving praise to the Cowboys recently retired right tackle.

Everybody tends to forget how solid of a right tackle Doug Free was during his career with the Dallas Cowboys. It really seems as if everybody just wants to dwell on his untimely penalties or how he has regressed the past few seasons. But, I'm starting to think the Cowboys offensive line will miss his presence on the right side in 2017.

You see, now that Doug Free has decided to retire, the Cowboys offensive line now has a whole that needs to be filled at the right tackle position. To further complicate things, Ronald Leary decided to take his talents to the Denver Broncos, which means the organization also has to find a new starting left guard as well.

As a Cowboys fan, if you're not at least a little bit worried about what these changes could mean to the offensive line in 2017, then you're probably not paying attention or know something that I don't.

Now, I'm not going to sit here and say that Doug Free wasn't the weakest link on the offensive line, but the same can probably be said about anybody that has to play with Smith, Frederick, and Martin. They are in a class of their own and it's a rarity to have three such players on the same team.

What I'm trying to get at here is it might not be as easy to replace Doug Free as many of us would like to believe. It's probably going be difficult to find someone who can step in and help duplicate the success this unit has had the past several years.

Doug FreeEven though Doug Free might have been declining as a player the past couple of seasons, he has only missed five games as a starter since 2010. That reliability will definitely be missed, especially considering the Cowboys' current options to replace him.

If you take a look at the Cowboys' current roster and their options to play right tackle in 2017, you will noticed one thing. Nearly every player that will be competing for the RT job has had to miss nearly an entire NFL season due to an injury in recent years. That doesn't exactly inspire a lot of confidence the Cowboys offensive line won't take a step back.

Chaz Green as found himself on injured reserve in both of his first two seasons with the Dallas Cowboys since they drafted him in 2015. In the small sample size we saw last year while filling in for the injured Tyron Smith, he looked like a starting NFL tackle. But, he simply can't stay healthy and that's a huge concern for someone you're depending on.

La'el Collins looked to be the starting left guard in 2016, but found himself on injured reserve as well. Now, they're experimenting with him at RT, thus creating a void at LG. I personally think it's best he stays on the inside, but it's understandable the coaching staff wants to get a look at him at right tackle.

The Cowboys also brought in Byron Bell to compete and add depth, but even he missed the entire 2016 season because of injuries. That leaves only Emmett Cleary as the only option without injury concerns, but he's not nearly as talented as the others.

Do you see what I'm getting at now?

I understand the majority of us will be focusing on if the defense will be able to improve throughout the remainder of the off-season, but I think my concerns about the Cowboys' offensive line are justifiable.

Doug Free's reliability, experience, and leadership will certainly be missed in 2017, but we will just have to hope it doesn't have a bad ripple effect on the entire unit.

Do you think the Cowboys' offensive line will miss Doug Free?


Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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6 Comments
  • Travis Diggs

    I think our offensive line will be oooookayy I don’t think I will be mad if Collins goes out right and becomes a beast I think we’ll be OK. Nothing to worry about Out with the old In with the new.

    • Brian Martin

      I think Collins would make the Cowboys offensive line better as a Guard, but the right tackle position is probably more important if he is the best option there. As long as the offensive lineman can stay healthy, this shouldn’t be a problem. I’m hoping Chaz Green can stay healthy and take over the RT position and keep Collins at LG. I think the OL might be better than last year if that happens.

  • Stephen L. Holley

    ” SIGN MANZIEL”!!

    • Brian Martin

      I would give him a shot at vet minimum, but I think that ship has sailed.

      • Stephen L. Holley

        “MINIMUM AND “INCENTIVES TO EVEN EARN A MEAL OR DRINK OF WATER”!!! mAKE HIM WORK FOR RANDY WHITE ON HIS RANCH FOR ABOUT 6 MONTHS ….NO PHONE….EARN EVERYTHING!!!! LET’S SEE HOW SERIOUS HE IS!!! POSIBILITY FOR A “GREAT” UPSIDE”!!!

        • Brian Martin

          He definitely needs to prove that he’s worthy of a second chance.

Star Blog

Cowboys Offense: Finding Roles for 2018 NFL Draft Picks

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Offense: Finding Roles for 2018 NFL Draft Picks 1

It is no secret that the Dallas Cowboys offense failed in 2017. As much as these struggles were about who wasn't on the field for the Cowboys, the talent still out there could rarely do enough to win games. With an elite offensive line, young quarterback, and Dez Bryant on the outside, this was unacceptable and prompted changes in Dallas.

The biggest move the Cowboys made prior to the 2018 NFL Draft was moving on from Dez Bryant. The 29-year old wide receiver remains unsigned, as the Cowboys were comfortable entering the draft with a glaring need at the position.

Still waiting until the third round to add Colorado State's Michael Gallup, the Cowboys later drafted Cedrick Wilson and Tight End Dalton Schultz. Filling their biggest needs with great value on these picks, the Cowboys also found their left guard of the future in Connor Williams at 50th overall.

Add in developmental Quarterback Mike White and Running Back Bo Scarbrough and the Cowboys have an intriguing rookie class on offense - full of players that will absolutely need to step in right away, and some that are here to provide depth.

As I did with the Cowboys defense earlier in the week, here is my best projection on the roles the Cowboys draft picks on Scott Linehan's side of the ball will play.

Left Guard Connor Williams

Scouting Report: "Film Room: OL Connor Williams Is Cowboys Final Piece To Great Run Game"

This was the Dallas Cowboys best pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. Keeping Texas Longhorns prospect Connor Williams close to home, ending his draft-week slide at 50th overall to a roar at AT&T Stadium, is more than just a feel good story.

This is a player that fills the Cowboys need for a long-term starter at left guard perfectly. Considered one of the best tackles in the nation prior to injury, Williams will of course benefit from playing between Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick.

Bringing his own trademark toughness and athleticism to a new interior position will give the Cowboys arguably their best offensive line since 2014. Ezekiel Elliott has to be a fan of the Connor Williams pick already - as you should be too.

Although the Cowboys did add veteran depth at OT this offseason, Williams is of course another emergency option on the roster to kick outside and handle himself at any position but center. Connor Williams will be a noticeably fun player at LG, creating movement through to the second level on a consistent basis.

Wide Receiver Michael Gallup

Scouting Report: "Film Room: WR Michael Gallup Provides Excellent Value In 3rd Round"

Predictions for what first-year Wide Receiver Michael Gallup will have in store for his rookie season in Dallas have been all over the place. While most are understandably skeptical of the Cowboys "relying" on a third round draft pick to become a force in the passing game, Gallup is a high upside player that fits the Cowboys new approach on offense.

Phasing out the need for a true number one receiver, Gallup is the Cowboys newest "Dak-friendly" asset. Perhaps playing under the radar too much at Colorado State, Gallup has all of the traits needed to explode onto the scene in 2018.

A lengthy athlete with effortless vertical ability and soft hands, Gallup will have no problem separating as a big target on the outside for Prescott. Because of this, I expect him to be the closest thing the Cowboys have to a "WR1" this season - lining up primarily at the X position and putting up numbers better than some of the eight receivers drafted before him.

Sean's Scout: TE Dalton Schultz Fits Cowboys Need as Willing Blocker

Dallas Cowboys TE Dalton Schultz

Tight End Dalton Schultz

Scouting Report: "Sean's Scout: TE Dalton Schultz Fits Cowboys Need as Willing Blocker"

The Cowboys have a Jason Witten sized hole to fill inside The Star at Frisco. While just how much on-field production this constitutes is up for debate, the reality is that no player will mean as much to the Cowboys as Witten did for so long anytime soon.

Especially fourth round pick Dalton Schultz, drafted the day after Witten announced his retirement from the NFL. If given a chance to make a name for himself though, the Stanford tight end may rarely come off the field for the Cowboys.

Joining Geoff Swaim and Blake Jarwin on the roster - two experienced run blockers that are developing as pass catchers - Schultz has plenty of experience playing in Stanford's pro style offense.

Not the most overwhelming blocker, Schultz understands how to control bigger defenders at the line of scrimmage - never shying away from a chance to show his dominance and finish blocks to the ground.

Limited as a route runner and true receiver, Schultz is going to be eased into the Cowboys offense, but will have plenty of opportunities to stand out this summer in training camp and carve out a role in 12 or 13 personnel packages.

Quarterback Mike White

Scouting Report: "Sean's Scout: QB Mike White Brings Athleticism, Accuracy to Dallas Cowboys"

It's refreshing for the Cowboys to have a young quarterback that has stayed remarkably healthy through his first two seasons, as Dak Prescott will have no competition for the starting job in 2018. The real competition at quarterback will be directly behind him.

With Kellen Moore trading in his helmet for a coaching hat, second-year Quarterback Cooper Rush will be joined by fifth round pick Mike White. A touch thrower with pro-ready size and plenty of workable traits, White was one of the better late-round candidates the Cowboys could have added to their QB room.

White2

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Taking 2018 to soak in as much as he can about Scott Linehan's offense, it truly doesn't matter much if Mike White is QB2 or QB3 this season. If he was worth the 171st overall pick, the Cowboys believe in his potential, and will work to push him as far as he can go up the depth chart this offseason.

Wide Receiver Cedrick Wilson

Scouting Report: "Sean's Scout: WR Cedrick Wilson the Missing Vertical Threat for Cowboys Offense"

In 2017, the Cowboys entered the draft with a promise to restock their depleted secondary - doing so by drafting starting cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis in the second and third rounds. This year, the wide receiver position felt the same way. Although the Cowboys waited until the sixth round to add their second rookie at WR, Cedrick Wilson is absolutely a player that can make an impact this year and outplay this draft status.

By trading Ryan Switzer at the draft, the Cowboys showed some faith in slot receiver Cole Beasley. Likely not coming off the field much this season, Wilson will have a hard time earning reps on the inside, where he menaces defenders with his length and long speed.

Wilson4

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These are still traits that Cedrick Wilson uses to win on the outside, where every receiver the Cowboys have is going to get a chance. Talented pass catchers are not going to make the final cut on the Cowboys roster, but Cedrick Wilson is one that will earn his spot all summer long.

Look for him to standout in the preseason regardless of who's throwing Wilson the ball, forcing the Cowboys to rotate him into their versatile offense for Prescott to have another big target out wide.

Cowboys Offense: Finding Roles for 2018 NFL Draft Picks

Dallas Cowboys RB Bo Scarbrough

Running Back Bo Scarbrough

Scouting Report: "Film Review: What Bo Scarbrough Brings to the Cowboys Running Game"

Bo Scarbrough has generated plenty of buzz from Cowboys Nation, and mostly because his name is Bo Scarbrough. A recognizable name out of Alabama, Scarbrough became the Cowboys last pick of the 2018 NFL Draft at 236th overall.

For as much as we've discussed the decisions the Cowboys will have to make elsewhere on offense, their faith rests in starter Ezekiel Elliott. Behind Elliott, the Cowboys have a completely new stable of running backs though.

Tavon Austin was acquired during the draft by the Cowboys to fill the void once left (?) by Lance Dunbar, and at least for now it seems like Dallas has big plans for Tavon on offense. Working both Elliott and Austin onto the field won't be a problem for Linehan, but including Rod Smith and Bo Scarbrough very well might be.

With Smith firmly holding his roster spot because of special teams contributions, Scarbrough will have to follow in similar footsteps to secure his spot on America's Team. The idea of the Cowboys keeping a bruising back like Scarbrough to help them finish games is a fun one, but it doesn't feel practical when crunching the roster numbers.

If Scarbrough does make the cut however, he can absolutely spell Elliott in short yardage and goal line situations, running with consistent power and better-than-expected vision.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

The Cowboys have way too much invested into their offense to see it sputter like it did a year ago. Instilling optimism with the injured players they'll welcome back, the Cowboys were not complacent in adding talent at the draft either.

While Connor Williams and Michael Gallup may be the only true "starters" the Cowboys found, I expect both rookies to excel. Contributions from Dalton Schultz and Cedrick Wilson could put this offensive draft class over the top - prepared nicely for the long run while featuring five players with high enough floors to play this season.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Offense: Finding Roles for 2018 NFL Draft Picks" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!


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Cowboys en Español: La Llegada de Kris Richard, ¿La Salvación de Byron Jones?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Dallas Cowboys Player Profile: FS #31 Byron Jones 2

Desde el momento en el que llegó a la NFL, Byron Jones ha dado mucho de que hablar. Su talento y sus increíbles hazañas atléticas han llevado a pensar a la afición que está destinado al éxito como un defensivo en la secundaria de los Dallas Cowboys. Desafortunadamente, a pesar de algunas jugadas realmente sorprendentes y varios destellos, Jones no ha logrado establecerse como un claro titular de calidad en sus primeros tres años en la liga.

En su primera temporada, el equipo movió a Byron Jones por toda la defensiva, dejándolo jugar como safety, dentro y fuera de la caja, como cornerback interior y exterior. ¡Poco hubiera sorprendido que lo hubieran convertido en un jugador ofensivo!

La versatilidad era un fuerte para el defensivo saliente de la universidad de Connecticut, hasta que el equipo de coaches en Dallas lo convirtió en una debilidad. Al final de cuentas, el dicho lo dice a la perfección. "El que mucho abarca, poco aprieta."

Jones, quien en sus primeras dos temporadas no encontró una posición fija, no obtuvo el progreso que necesitaba. Y una vez que en el 2017 el equipo se comprometió a darle una posición fija, dándole el trabajo de profundo (safety). 

5 Players Cowboys Could put on the Trade Market

Dallas Cowboys CB Byron Jones

Lamentablemente para Jones, debido a problemas contra el juego terrestre y de tackleo, se demostró que jugar con él dentro de la caja, no era la respuesta para Dallas.

Ahora, con la llegada del ex-coordinador defensivo de los Seattle Seahawks y uno de los creadores fundamentales de la entonces llamada "Legion of Boom", Kris Richard, la carrera de Byron Jones cuenta con otra oportunidad y una que podría llevar al jugador de tercer año a finalmente convertirse en un titular de primer nivel.

Tras la llegada de Richard a Dallas, se anunció que Jones se convertiría en un cornerback de tiempo completo para los Cowboys con la esperanza de que este encontrará por fin un lugar donde quedarse.

Probablemente, ambos de los novatos del 2017 Chidobe Awuzie y Jourdan Lewis lograrán quedarse con los dos mejores trabajos en la posición, pero el equipo debe estar contando con que Byron Jones se gané su lugar por encima de Anthony Brown y se establezca como uno de los tres cornerbacks titulares.

"Prototipo. Atleta fantástico, altura genial, tamaño, longitud. Todo está ahí. Tiene una gran actitud. Ha trabajado muy duro desde el día 1. Estoy emocionado de estar a su alrededor." Kris Richard hablando de Byron Jones como un CB.

Los Cowboys tienen esperanzas en Byron Jones, y lo demostraron decidiendo recoger la opción de quinto año en su contrato, asegurándolo hasta la temporada del 2019. Sin duda alguna, una de las razones principales por las cuales el equipo está siendo tan optimista respecto a Jones, es la llegada de Kris Richard.

Con Rod Marinelli cumpliendo 69 años en Julio y bastantes rumores de que consideró el retiro al finalizar la temporada del 2017, el futuro de Kris Richard en Dallas parece prometedor. Tiene todo el sentido del mundo verlo como el coordinador defensivo del equipo en el 2019.

Quizá suene disparatado, pero una mala temporada en el 2018 podría conseguir que Jason Garrett sea despedido. A pesar de que los fans no quieren una mala temporada, si llegara a ocurrir y hay un cambio de head coach para los Cowboys, Kris Richard será un nombre en consideración. Al menos, debería serlo.

Pero por ahora, Richard tiene que enfocarse en replicar el éxito que tuvo defensivamente en Seattle para llevar a la unidad de los Cowboys al siguiente nivel. Byron Jones podría ser una pieza clave en su misión.

¿Será este el año para Byron Jones?

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: La Llegada de Kris Richard, ¿La Salvación de Byron Jones?" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!


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Could New Additions Cause Trouble For Backup RB Rod Smith?

Brian Martin

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Will New Additions Cause Trouble For Backup RB Rod Smith?

The Dallas Cowboys will be adding a couple of new faces at the running back position in 2018, but it shouldn't really have much impact on Ezekiel Elliott's spot atop the RB depth chart. The person it could spell trouble for is Elliott's expected backup, Rod Smith.

Last year Rod Smith finally received an opportunity to prove himself while Ezekiel Elliott was out serving his suspension. Smith proved to be an effective weapon as both a runner and as a receiver in the passing game. He did so well in fact that many have already anointed him as the primary backup heading into the 2018 season.

Rod Smith will absolutely be given every opportunity to prove once again he is the best man for the job to backup Zeke, but there are also some new additions coming in who could possibly challenge for that RB2 role.

Tavon Austin

Dallas Cowboys RB/WR Tavon Austin

Tavon Austin, who the Dallas Cowboys acquired via trade with the Los Angeles Rams during the 2018 NFL Draft, is expected to be utilized as both a wide receiver and running back this year. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan has described him as a "web-back" and said that Austin is expected to be utilized in a variety of different ways.

Unfortunately for Rod Smith, that could mean that Tavon Austin cuts into some of the touches Smith could have received. Austin may not have Smith's size or physicality, but his speed and elusiveness is something truly lacking right now on the Cowboys offense.

But, Tavon Austin isn't the only new face who could cause trouble for Rod Smith. The Dallas Cowboys decided to close out the 2018 NFL Draft by selecting RB Bo Scarbrough, a well-known National Champion, formally with the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Bo Scarbrough

Dallas Cowboys RB Bo Scarbrough

Bo Scarbrough is more of the old school running back we used to see in the NFL. He is a one cut downhill physical runner, who looks to punish any defender unfortunate enough to get in his way.

Scarbrough and Rod Smith are both bigger backs, but Smith just doesn't play with the same kind of physicality, despite what his size would suggest. Scarbrough could form a formative one-two punch paired with Ezekiel Elliott and together they could wear down opposing defenses.

If you're a fan of Rod Smith, this is certainly a little bit disheartening. He has had to scratch and claw for every opportunity he has received and just when it looks like he has arrived, he may have to prove himself once more.

Fortunately, I think Rod Smith is still the right man for the job to be Zeke's primary backup. He is a better all-around RB then either Tavon Austin or Bo Scarbrough and has the advantage of having the trust of the coaching staff and his teammates.

I'm sure Tavon Austin and Bo Scarborough may steal a few touches from Rod Smith here and there in 2018, but I still expect him to be the RB2 this year. Luckily, all of this talk means next to nothing since Ezekiel Elliott is back and will only come off the field for a breather.

Lookout NFL, Zeke is back and he is hungry!!!

Do you think Rod Smith will be the primary RB backup in 2018?


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