Dallas Cowboys star quarterback Tony Romo has a strong line in front of him going into the 2014 season, as the Cowboys drafted an offensive lineman in the first round for the second straight season. After drafting standout rookie center Travis Frederick, who looked like a reach at the time before shining, in 2013, the Cowboys scooped up Notre Dame G/T Zack Martin, who will start off as a guard, with the 16th overall pick. Martin is one of the top four rookie offensive linemen, and he is a pure technician who can do a solid job of protecting the passer or paving the way for the running back. Already possessing a talented bookend of tackles in franchise LT Tyron Smith and 2013 bounce-back guy Doug Free, the Cowboys offensive line is set.
It’s no surprise that Romo is a huge fan of the Cowboys philosophy to start things up front when adding talent, as he’ll have more time in the pocket after OL play was once a big problem for the franchise QB. It will also help Romo avoid getting shelled, as his back injury is a big concern for some.
He said, via ESPN Dallas’s Todd Archer, “As a quarterback, that half-second, that tenth of a second can make the difference in completing a pass or not. A lot of that is dictated as to whether or not you have that extra time. I think it goes to show the organization is building through the lines and that’s the way you win in the National Football League late in the year.”
One thing that stands out to me is the fact that Romo uses the plural “lines”, so he’s also a fan of the Cowboys decision to build on the defensive line first. The Cowboys were sold on Boise State pass rusher Demarcus Lawrence, who was a pre-draft visit, and they traded up for him in the second round instead of settling on Kony Ealy (another DE they reportedly liked). The Cowboys re-signed Anthony Spencer, who is coming off of a major knee injury that required microfracture surgery, and inked ideal sub-package guy Jeremy Mincey, so the Cowboys have made a commitment to beefing up the pass rush at DE under Rod Marinelli. And at DT? Henry Melton was one of the biggest free agent steals, as he replaces Jason Hatcher as the team’s beastly interior pass rusher.