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Question & Answers: Breaking Down Entire Offensive Line Top to Bottom

IRVING, Texas – Two All-Pro selections, three Pro Bowls and a Pro Bowl alternate.

That's one way to describe the Cowboys' offensive line. But they also converted the fewest third-and-1 attempts in the NFL last year. The team ranked 31st in false start penalties and ranked 27th in goal-to-go situations down in the red zone.

Yes, the Cowboys have talent on the offensive line, but they were far from dominant. Maybe Tony Romo's injury played a big factor. But maybe Romo covered up some of the line's deficiencies.

Either way, the offensive line needs Romo just like he needs them. While the starting five seems rather in place, there are some question marks throughout the entire depth chart.

As the draft approaches next week, here's how the offensive line stands for now:

Tyron Smith

What We Know:One of the elite left tackles in all of football, Smith is becoming every bit the dominant player the Cowboys hoped they were getting back in the 2011 NFL Draft. After earning three straight Pro Bowl selections, Smith might not be the oldest or loudest member of this offensive line, but he's arguably the most talented.

Still Need to Know:There's not a lot left to know about Smith. Maybe we need to know just where he's going to rank among the Cowboys' great offensive linemen. He proved he was human last year in Miami, struggling somewhat with Olivier Vernon, who is now with the Giants, setting up what should be some interesting battles.

Travis Frederick

What We Know:He's the anchor of the offensive line, giving the team few setbacks during the season. Frederick was the least penalized player on the line, getting just two penalties all year. 

Still Need to Know:The big question mark with Frederick will be his contract. It's likely the Cowboys want to keep him, considering he's made two straight Pro Bowls. They'll probably give him the fifth-year option over the next few weeks, with an eye on locking him into a long-term deal at some point.

Zack Martin

What We Know:We know Martin is one of the best young linemen the Cowboys have ever had. The fact he's already drawing comparisons to Larry Allen just goes to show what a great selection the Cowboys made in Martin, especially when so many pundits figured Johnny Manziel would be the pick.

Still Need to Know:If there's one part of Martin's game that lagged a little last year it would be penalties. Martin was flagged a team-high 11 times in 2015. So, cleaning that part up is something for Martin to work on.

La'el Collins

What We Know:The Cowboys certainly got a steal here, taking Collins in free agency after the draft. In one season, he learned a new position and supplanted Ron Leary as the starting left guard. Collins was a Pro Bowl alternate by the end of the year and expectations are now soaring even higher for a player once figured to be a first-round pick in 2015.

Still Need to Know:With Collins, we still don't know just how good or great he's going to be. Technically, he's still learning the position so his ceiling for improvement is sky high. This draft might tell us where Collins could end up long-term position wise. If they draft a tackle, Collins will likely stick around at guard, but don't rule out the possibility of Collins sliding out to right tackle, even if it's not this year. 

Doug Free

What We Know:He's never going to be the flashy player who gets the attention. He wasn't a first-round pick. He's never been to the Pro Bowl or, like Collins, been an alternate. But he's a solid player who remains the leader of the line. As the year went on, Free got healthier with his foot injury and played well down the stretch.

Still Need to Know:Aside from the Cowboys drafting Laremy Tunsil with the No. 4 pick, it's safe to assume Free would enter training camp as the starting right tackle. He might get some push from Chaz Green or perhaps another rookie drafted fairly high.

Others to Watch

Chaz Green:He spent all of last year rehabbing injuries, but should be poised to make a push for playing time this year. The logical spot for him is right tackle, where he'll have to be both good and reliable to beat out Free. He's also had some work at guard, so his ability to play two spots could be a valuable game-day option.

Ronald Leary:Replaced by Collins at guard, Leary hasn't garnered much attention from other clubs as a restricted free agent. The Cowboys made sure the price would be too high, putting a second-round tender on him. That means he'll likely return and will be an experienced backup at guard if something happens to Martin or Collins, or if either of them has to kick out to one of the tackle spots.

Joe Looney:This is very similar to the addition the Cowboys made four years ago in acquiring Mackenzy Bernadeau, who left this offseason to sign with Jacksonville. Looney is a four-year vet with 10 starts under his belt. He's a serviceable backup at three spots across the interior of the line, with experience at center and both guard positions.

Charles Brown:The Cowboys re-signed him early on in free agency, but his spot isn't guaranteed by any means. If Green pans out like the Cowboys hope, and if the team adds another rookie tackle in the draft, Brown might have a hard time sticking around. But he's got six years of experience with 22 starts. That's not always easy to replace, especially for a swing tackle that can play both sides.

Justin Renfrow: In two years, he's bounced around with four other NFC teams, first starting out as a defensive end before eventually moving to offensive tackle. His size is impressive at 6-4, 310, but he obviously lacks experience on the line. He's a developmental player who might have a shot at the practice squad if he can flash some skills.

Jared Smith: Like Renfrow, Smith was also a converted defensive lineman who is learning the ropes as a guard. He did earn a Super Bowl ring with the Seahawks following the 2013 season. He was waived last year by the Falcons and signed by the Cowboys back in January.

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