IRVING, Texas – With three offensive linemen selected to this year's Pro Bowl, the Cowboys have more blockers going to Arizona than any other team in the league.
Frankly, though, it wasn't enough for Travis Frederick.
"Truly, in my mind, I think we should have had a couple more bids on the line. But it's definitely exciting to be part of it," he said Wednesday afternoon.
Frederick earned his first-ever Pro Bowl selection, alongside fellow first-round pick Zack Martin on Tuesday afternoon. Left tackle – and again, a fellow first-rounder – Tyron Smith earned his second selection to the NFL's all-star game.
"Those guys are as deserving as anyone in the league," Martin said. "It's awesome to see them get recognized and it's going to be fun to go out there with them."
That trio is one more than either San Francisco or Philadelphia – both of whom earned two offensive line bids – could muster. But neither Ronald Leary nor Doug Free earned a selection to the show. Given the praise heaped on this unit all season long, though, Frederick said they'd "certainly" have to consider bringing the entire group – including reserves like Mackenzy Bernadeau and Jermey Parnell.
"I certainly believe that Ron and Doug really do belong in that conversation, and the things that we've done as a group – we always talk about how Mack and JP are as pivotal as the starters are," Frederick said. "You can see, when JP can just step in and play as well as he has, and when Mack stepped in the way he did. There's no fall off, no drop off, and that's what's awesome about our group of guys."
The trio of Frederick, Martin and Smith was bound to take center stage, however, given the resources allocated to acquire them. Since Cowboys coach Jason Garrett took over the head coaching job, he has spent three-of-four first-round draft picks on the offensive line. Smith came first, No. 9 overall in 2011, with Frederick at No. 31 overall in 2013 and Martin at No. 16 this past spring.
Garrett said Wednesday he was happy for all his Pro Bowl players, but he didn't need to see them selected to feel validated in his draft strategy.
"That unit is outstanding. Those individual guys play really well together," he said. "The kind of guys we liked and believed were cornerstone players for our franchise. Certainly worth the resources that we used to get them. They've played really, really well. They've played the right way."
Behind them, DeMarco Murray bulldozed his way into the NFL rushing title, not to mention a second Pro Bowl selection – a fact both Frederick and Martin said they take great pride in.
But even with their first-round pedigree, it seems almost surreal that three such young players could turn the corner so quickly. By putting all three players into the Pro Bowl, the NFL community is essentially acknowledging them among the best at their respective positions – and none of the three has reached his 25th birthday.
"It's not necessarily vindication – I've always believed this is a place that I could go. I certainly didn't expect it in my second year, but you set goals," Frederick said. "In college you talk about wanting to go to the NFL, just getting a chance at the NFL. As you go through college you say 'Ok, well maybe I can get drafted high and maybe I can get a starting spot.' You just continue to set those benchmarks, and the Pro Bowl is one of those benchmarks."
It might come as a bit of surprise to have attained that distinction so early, but that's no problem for Frederick – who listed his most-prized benchmark last.
"The biggest one for me, though, is the Super Bowl. I want to win the Super Bowl, and we're going to do whatever we can to do that," he said.
Martin concurred. Super Bowl XLIX will be played in the same building as the Pro Bowl, one week later – and the Cowboys would be able to bring all their offensive linemen.
"I'm hoping we'll still be playing and be out in Arizona for another reason," Martin said.