It comes as no surprise that the Dallas Cowboys offensive line in 2020 was one of the weakest units on the field for the team. A once-historically great unit become one of liability when the tackle position was decimated due to injury.
Those injuries saw the likes of Tyron Smith (who played two games) and La’el Collins (who played zero) miss significant time last season. It prompted the Cowboys to use multiple lineups throughout the season and even saw right guard Zack Martin move over to tackle.
Amid gossip about the rehab status of Tyron and La'el ... how are they really doing?
“They look great,” coach Mike McCarthy said in his Thursday presser from The Star. “We don’t expect any setbacks.”
While things are trending in a positive direction for the line, with Smith and Collins expected to start the season, there are still some areas of concern. Notably, the interior of the offensive line is in question as last season the center position was manned by fourth-rounder Tyler Biadasz for four games and veteran Joe Looney for 12.
With Looney a free agent, and Biadasz just a rookie - oh, and with Connor Williams maybe facing some challenges at left guard - how will the interior offensive line be sorted out?
McCarthy noted that he anticipates a "very competitive situation" within the O-line. We think he's mostly talking about left guard.
One can assume that All-Pro Zack Martin will re-assume his mantle at right guard, which leaves the center and left guard position open for competition. A source tells CowboysSI.com that Biadasz "is our center.'' If that holds, it means Williams - who some think has a very good case to stay in his role as he played 100% of the offensive snaps from the left guard position in 2020 and received a grade of 70.8 from Pro Football Focus - might face a challenge from Connor McGovern at his spot.
Additionally, with the 10th pick in 2021 NFL draft Dallas could elect to take one of the top offensive linemen available. Somehow put Penei Sewell or Rashawn Slater on this roster, and yeah ... That would spark a hot competition in camp heading into the season.
Regardless, McCarthy likely wants to avoid a disastrous situation like season in which the offensive line was ranked 27th in the league. Not only will quarterback Dak Prescott need to be better-protected, but players like Ezekiel Elliott should also receive a bump in production from better offensive line play.
While the state of the Cowboys defense may be the headline-grabber right now, it will be the competition within the interior offensive line - and the return to a healthy and high level of play from Tyron and La'el - that could prove to be the difference this season.