The Cowboys drafted left tackle Tyron Smith with the ninth overall choice in 2011, center Travis Frederick 31st in 2013 and right guard Zack Martin 16th in 2014. Right tackle La’el Collins was projected as a first-round choice in 2015 but went undrafted for reasons out of his control. Jonathan Cooper, who could win the starting left guard job, was the seventh overall pick of the Cardinals in 2013.
Despite concerns about Doug Free’s retirement and Ron Leary’s departure in free agency, the Cowboys could start four first-round draft picks and a projected first-round pick on their offensive line this season.
Cooper so far has not lived up to expectations, playing in only 24 games in three seasons in Arizona before being traded to New England. The Patriots waived him, and he played only five games for the Browns. Cooper signed with the Cowboys on Jan. 4 for the postseason. He re-signed in March.
“It’s always [good] to start over fresh,” Cooper said, via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. “Fortunately, there was the brief time I had last season here. No matter how long you’re in the league, I don’t think it ever gets old to go to a new team. It’s always like the first day of school. You have to learn your new people, get in your little cliques if you will and just get a routine, learn your area. So it never gets old. I guess you just adapt quicker the more years you have [in the league].”
The Cowboys moved Collins from left guard to right tackle, where Free retired after last season. Cooper has worked with the first team at left guard, making him the favorite to win the job, though he will have to beat out Chaz Green. Green, the oft-injured former third-round pick, moved from right tackle.