(Editor's Note: April is here, which means the first wave of free agency has passed and the NFL Draft is just around the corner. DallasCowboys.com's 11-part series analyzes every position on the Cowboys' roster at this point in the offseason: free-agent additions and subtractions, draft possibilities, returning players and question marks. The series continues with guards and centers.)
Roster Holdovers: The Cowboys might have the best guard in all of football in Zack Martin. The same can be said at center in Travis Frederick. Whatever happens at the left guard spot, the interior of the offensive line will still be one of the best, if not the best in all of pro football. Martin should be getting a new contract that will have him as the NFL's highest-paid guard, or at least right at the top of the league. Expect that deal to happen closer to the start of the season, especially after Tony Romo's cap relief hits the books after June 1. The Cowboys have signed both Frederick and Tyron Smith in the middle of training camp to long-term deals.
Free Agency Overview: The Cowboys lost last year's starting left guard in Ron Leary, who signed away to the Broncos. While he was a valuable part of the offensive line's success in 2016, the Cowboys just couldn't commit to paying yet another high-profile offensive lineman. They did re-sign Jonathan Cooper, a former first-round pick of the Cardinals who has battled through injuries and hasn't come close to meeting expectations. Cooper was signed by the Cowboys late last year for insurance reasons in the playoffs, but Dallas re-signed him in March with the hope he can regain his form and perhaps compete for a starting role or at least the backup spot at guard and center.
Draft Outlook: Don't expect the Cowboys to address these positions early in the draft. If anything, it could be in the third round, but only if someone with a high grade has fallen to them. It's unlikely a player will be added to compete for a starting job. But the Cowboys don't always draft players for this upcoming season. If a player has some versatility in the draft, such as LSU guard/center Ethan Pocic, it could make sense in the middle rounds. Utah has a pair of teammates in J.J. Dielman and Isaac Asiata who could be good fits as well.
Time To Shine: If the Cowboys decide to keep La'el Collins at guard, he would fall into this category. Collins had a good rookie year in 2015, even getting selected as a Pro Bowl alternate, but his injury last season opened the door for Leary. There will be question marks regarding Collins moving out to tackle, although the Cowboys have some options there in Chaz Green and/or Byron Bell. Collins played tackle in college at LSU, but now as he enters his third pro season, he should be ready to take that next step at guard if the Cowboys choose to keep him there.