(Editor's Note: With the draft now behind us, the Cowboys seemingly have a full roster for the offseason and training camp. There will likely be changes here and there but this group will mostly be intact when the real competition begins. The writers of DallasCowboys.com have broken down some of the pressing position battles to keep an eye on. Today, we conclude the series with the backup offensive tackle position.)
What's the Issue:
The Cowboys' offensive line is widely regarded as the roster's strongest unit and perhaps the most talented group in the NFL. At tackle, Tyron Smith is a three-time All-Pro selection and nine-year veteran Doug Free is the line's most tenured player.
Both started all 16 games last season, but quality depth is critical no matter how effective the first unit can be.
Last September the Cowboys signed Charles Brown, a former 2010 second-round pick with 22 career starts, as the primary swing tackle during the 2015 season. Back on a one-year contract, Brown will likely compete with last year's third-round pick Chaz Green, who spent most of his rookie season recovering from offseason hip surgery.
The Cowboys are fortunate to have two durable starters, but if either missed time in the future, they'll need a reliable replacement to help protect Tony Romo and keep the running game rolling.
Don't Forget About:
Nick Eatman:The swing tackle is an important position, especially if the tight end position gets thin with injuries. Oftentimes, the Cowboys will use the third tackle as an extra blocker around the goal line and short-yardage situations. Brown did that some last year and Green could be athletic enough to do the same, serving as an additional tight end. Personally, I think Green will win out, but assuming he stays healthy enough, something that seems easier said than done.
Rob Phillips: It's at least worth noting that the Cowboys' starting guards, Zack Martin and La'el Collins, played some tackle in college. If Smith or Free ever missed time, it's conceivable that Martin or Collins could move outside and Ronald Leary, a full-time starter in 2013 and 2014, could step in at either guard spot. Of course, such a move would require addressing two positions. Ideally, it would be simpler to rely on Brown or Green if ever needed to step in for an extended period of time. Green did not appear in a game last season, but the Cowboys like how productive he was at Florida in a competitive SEC. He also has some guard experience.
David Helman:They might not sit in the offensive line room, but the Cowboys have a couple of solid blocking tight ends in Jason Witten and James Hanna. No one should need reminding that Witten is arguably the sport's most complete tight end, excelling as both a receiver and a blocker. Though Hanna isn't as widely celebrated, the Cowboys valued his abilities as a blocker so much that they brought him back on a three-year contract during the free agency period. That in itself is some high praise. Regardless of who wins the job as the swing tackle, I expect that both of those guys will play a large role in establishing the running game as the dominant force it's been during these past two seasons. But just for the record, I think I've got to learn toward Chaz Green as this team's swing tackle. The Cowboys drafted him 92nd overall for a reason, and I think we'll see why in training camp.