It was not long ago that the Cowboys’ offensive line was considered one of the best in the NFL. But left tackle Tyron Smith has missed 32 games the past six seasons; center Travis Frederick retired after the 2019 season; right tackle La'el Collins was released this offseason; and the left guard position has seen constant turnover.
Only All-Pro right guard Zack Martin has remained a constant, and even he missed six games in 2020.
That’s why the Cowboys set out to rebuild the offensive line, drafting Tulsa left tackle Tyler Smith with the 24th overall choice. Smith will begin his career at left guard but is tabbed as the eventual replacement for Tyron Smith.
Tyler Smith should help open holes for Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard and better protect Dak Prescott.
“From everything I’m hearing and seeing, it sounds like he’s a good fit for our team,” Elliott said, via Jori Epstein of USA Today. “A guy who looks like you can play him at different positions. He looks physical. He looks like he has the type of mentality where he’s going to fit in with the guys already in that room.
“Just the ability to keep (Prescott) clean, give him the ability to go out there and go through his reads and throw the ball on time to the playmakers we have outside — that’s big. Establishing the run is big for our team and going to be important for us this year. I think the pick we made in the first round will help us.”
The return to health of Prescott (ankle, shoulder, calf) and Elliott (PCL tear) will help this season, too. Receiver Michael Gallup still is rehabbing an ACL tear that is expected to keep him out for the start of the 2022 season, but his return also will help the offense.