With training camp right around the corner, DallasCowboys.com is taking a look at the outlook of each position group in a 10-part series, continuing today with the offensive line.
Top of the chart:
He’s the obvious choice here. He’s almost the only choice here. Really, there’s not another spot on this line where a player can be guaranteed to start Week 1. Smith moved from the right side to the left last season, and growing pains are going to come for any then-21-year-old player making that switch. The struggles at other spots of the line certainly outweighed his, though.
Another year of experience and an offseason of strength and conditioning should help Smith out more than the other linemen. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him take a noticeable leap in production this year. The guards right now are both still dealing with injuries before the season,
Need to see more:
Across The Line
There really isn’t a single spot to single out that the Cowboys don’t need more from.
If I had to pick one spot to see more from, I’d go with Free. There was a reason the Cowboys once paid him the way they did, before he was forced to accept a pay cut heading into this season. The Cowboys would have just cut him if they thought he couldn’t play the position. They clearly still see upside, and even with the heavily reduced contract number, Free needs to demonstrate that he can suffice at the spot to earn a starting job.
Still need to know …
Obviously, there are lots of things we still need to know about the line. From left to right, there are plenty of question marks but let’s focus now on the middle. The Cowboys drafted the rookie from Wisconsin in the first round, giving us all the assumption he will be ready to take over at center when the season begins. Phil Costa’s 2012 season was hard to dissect, considering he missed nearly all of the year with back and ankle injuries. But he did have a stellar performance against the eventual Super Bowl champion Ravens. Still, Frederick’s draft status suggests he will be the starter – at some spot. Center is most likely but he could also swing out to guard if that proves to be a better fit for the entire offensive line.
Don’t forget about …
With all the talk about Frederick and Costa, plus last year’s veteran starter in