Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Dallas Cowboys [Print without images]

Friday, July 18, 2014
Cowboys have built league's best O-line

By Robert Mays

A few weeks after the 2012 season, Jerry Jones said something in his postseason, “state of the Cowboys” press conference that I haven’t forgotten. Dallas had just finished what felt like its 10th consecutive 8-8 season. The blame game roulette was just getting started, and for most people, the ball had already landed on the Cowboys’ offensive line. The 1,265 rushing yards for Dallas’s offense were the worst in franchise history, and the per-play numbers weren’t much better (they finished 24th in rushing DVOA). Still, Jones wasn’t convinced that’s where his team needed the most help.

"If you’re going to have a guy … that can handle a porous offensive line, it’s Tony [Romo]," Jones said. "Tony has some of the best percentages operating behind pressure situation of anyone in the NFL. If there were a place theoretically that you had to have a weakness with Tony Romo at quarterback, that might be a place to have it. You just can’t have it all."

You can’t have it all. But there’s no rule saying you can’t draft offensive line help. Up to that point during Jones’ time as owner, Dallas had drafted one offensive lineman in the first round: Tyron Smith. And even that took until 2011. All Smith -- still just 23 -- has done is turn into one of the five best left tackles in the league. Jones may have three Super Bowl rings thanks to one of the best offensive lines ever, but it was never a position on which the Cowboys were willing to spend. Well, some time between that press conference and now, that changed.

Read the full story here.