China has a wall. Germany used to, and now the Cowboys are building one in Dallas. The Super Bowl-winning Cowboys had a “great wall” back in the 90’s consisting of Erik Williams, Mark Stepnoski, Nate Newton, Mark Tuinei, and Kevin Gogan. Talk about an offensive line! Troy Aikman would have had enough time to read this article while he was sitting in the pocket, being protected by this massive wall of men. Emmitt Smith had holes and running lanes you could drive a truck through thanks to these people movers. If the Cowboys are going to return to the playoffs it will be up to this new version of the wall to keep the offense moving.
The offensive line took a step back in 2017 after years of being the best in the NFL. Now, Tyrone Smith, Zack Martin, Travis Frederick, La’el Collins, and Conner Williams make up the new great wall in Dallas. With the offense going in a “Dak friendly” direction, it will be up to them to give the quarterback time to throw and open up running room for Ezekiel Elliott.
Tyrone Smith is the best left tackle in football when he is healthy. Smith has made the Pro Bowl in five straight seasons and been a first-team All-Pro twice. Last season his play suffered because of a back injury. After missing a couple of games, both losses, he showed his toughness and played through the pain.
The offense was clicking when he was in, and all over the place when he wasn’t. The Cowboys averaged 24 points a game with Smith and only eight without him. Yes, that’s correct eight points per game. Smith’s health is crucial to this offense having success, and word from training camp is that his back is feeling fine.
Zack Martin is just a beast. Martin has made four straight Pro Bowls and been a first-team All-Pro twice. As reliable as he is tough, he has never missed a game in his four-year career. Martin was pro football focus’ 16th highest rated player in all of the NFL with a grade of 92.2. That was one spot behind Julio Jones.
Martin played tackle at Notre Dame but the Cowboys converted him to guard (more on converting guards later). Larry Allen used to rock defensive tackles and throw them around like rag dolls, and Zack Martin looks to do the same in 2018.
Travis Frederick mans the middle of this group, making all the calls so everybody knows who’s got who. He has played in 80 straight contest and never missed a game. There was some doubt about Frederick being drafted too high back in the 2013 draft, but he has shut all that noise up with four straight Pro Bowls and an All-Pro selection.
Frederick played over 1000 snaps last season while not giving up a sack and only allowing 12 pressures. Best center in the league period.
La’el Collins was moved to right tackle last season, and while there were some growing pains, he was balling by the end of the year. Year two in the same position should have him light years ahead of where he was last season. Like Smith, Martin, and Frederick, Collins was supposed to be a first round pick, but a draft snafu came out of nowhere, and the Cowboys pounced.
Collins is a road grader and you don’t want to fight this man in a phone booth. Do yourself a favor and look up Collins running over the Seahawks and try not to laugh. Zeke is going to love running behind this guy.
Conner Williams is the new face on the line. He was a first-round talent who slid in the draft, and Dallas got an absolute steal. Williams was hurt last year in college which is why he fell in the draft, but the year before he was a first-team All-American, and might have been the best lineman in the country.
Williams plays with an edge and has some nastiness to his game. He played tackle in college but will be switching positions to left guard, and the Cowboys have had success in converting college tackles before (Zack Martin).
Dallas had a wall in the 90’s that allowed the skill positions to flourish, and Super Bowls became expected. These five offensive linemen are signed to long-term deals so the future seems to be set. The Cowboys are going to run the ball in 2018 and defenses know its coming. That’s okay though, Dallas has a wall again.
Now you know Broe @broeham