The offseason practices are in the rearview mirror as the Cowboys are heading towards training camp, which begins on July 24 in Oxnard, Calif.
That's usually the place where many of the questions regarding this team start to get answered.
The staff writers at DallasCowboys.com – Rob Phillips, David Helman, Nick Eatman and Bryan Broaddus – are attempting to answer 20 pressing questions as the team gets ready for camp and the 2017 season.
Today, we continue the series discussing which player will win the starting left guard spot in training camp.
13) Which Player Opens The 2017 Season As The Starting Left Guard?
Phillips: Tentatively, I'll give the edge to Jonathan Cooper based on league experience and because La'el Collins appeared to settle in at right tackle this offseason. However, the question for me has always been this: do the Cowboys feel more comfortable with their depth at left guard or right tackle? If they feel they have good options at guard, then Collins should stay at tackle. But if they think Chaz Green or Byron Bell at right tackle is a better option than, say, Cooper or Green at left guard, then maybe Collins should move back inside. We'll see, but with Collins taking virtually all the first-team reps at right tackle this spring and early summer, I'll stick with Cooper to step in at Collins' old spot.
Eatman: While I like the possibility of Green making the switch to guard and Collins out at right tackle, I don't trust the fact both young players will be healthy enough to make that happen. For some reason – and probably because he was a top 10 pick a few years ago – I think Jonathan Cooper will eventually win the starting job at left guard. I see him like I did with Marc Colombo some 12 years ago. He made the most of his second chance and I think Cooper can be the same type of player. There's a lot of good options here but give me a Cooper to revive his career and win the job.
Helman:I'm conflicted about this one. You always hear people talk about getting the best five linemen onto the field. So in that vein, I'm very curious to see if Chaz Green can handle the left guard job. The Cowboys drafted him No. 91 overall to insure themselves at the right tackle spot, and he showed a lot of promise at left tackle when Tyron Smith was hurt last year. But if La'el Collins is going to start at tackle, then perhaps Green could make a successful transition inside. It sure does sound enticing to have top 100 draft prospects at every position on the line. Although I suppose Green could serve a valuable purpose at swing tackle, and I think the coaching staff would like to see what they can get out of Jonathan Cooper. If Cooper is capable of re-discovering the talent that made him a top 10 pick, then you'd obviously hope to see him win the job. If not, then a full-time position change for Green could be the best way to get your best players onto the field.
Broaddus:This is a tough one because it's a pure guess at this point. I could see it playing out between Joe Looney and Jonathan Cooper with others like Chaz Green, Emmett Cleary and Byron Bell getting shots. Those guys will fall by the wayside, giving Looney and Cooper the path. Coaches appear to like Cooper because they've also worked him at center as well as to say they might even move on from Looney if he shows he can handle the job. I am going with Cooper to be the starter even though Looney has the experience with the team. I don't believe you'll get the same player coming out of North Carolina, but he's one of the strongest players on the team and Jerry Jones loves those powerful inside players along his line.