O’Lane Jones’ fears now turn to optimism

“The place that probably worries me the most and I’m most encouraging is in our offensive line,” Jones said. “We have some players from last year, junior players last year, who are going to be real contributors, and then we have some new players this year, our primary selection basically, that will help us.”

After losing Conor Williams (Miami) and Lyle Collins (Cincinnati) at free agency, the Cowboys focused on the O-line entering the draft. Perhaps no player in offensive line has the potential to make a greater impact than Tyler Smith, who was picked by the Cowboys for 24th overall during the draft in April. Jones says Smith was impressed in many ways, which was evident during his introductory press conference.

His strength and his intelligence, Jones said. “He enjoys hitting. He really enjoys it. He seems to be looking for something in there. This was the book he was talking about, so all of those things are true. I must say his press conference may have been the most impressive to me. I’ve attended a press conference before, Just for his ability to communicate.”

Smith’s maturity and communication skills Jones has hinted at veracity since entering the building two months ago. And while his footballing abilities were impressive, the opportunity to be in Dallas was not lost on Smith.

“It was crazy,” Smith said. “Bring me home was definitely a blessing. When it happened to me, it was the most brutal thing ever. It changed my life and my family’s life. I can definitely say I don’t want to be anywhere else.”

Outside of Smith, Conor McGovern proved to be a real bright spot during off-season training during the OTAs and junior camp. Terence Steele, who stepped in and played a strong tackle last season after Collins was suspended for the PEDs, is expected to return to the fold this season.

Tyler Biadasz is set to start as a center position, but could face some competition from players like Matt Farniok and Alec Lindstrom.

One big problem would be in the swing tackle, as the Cowboys used Josh Ball’s fourth-round pick last year, and rookie Matt Waletzko, hoping someone could secure a spare spot for both the right and left tackle.

The Cowboys will have to rely on the youngsters at some points, but they still have veteran All-Pro Zach Martin in the right guard and of course Smith on the left side in the interference.

Dallas will rely on their youth at the line position, with the only real anchor being All-Pro guard Zach Martin and older Smith who have struggled with injuries in the past few seasons.

Jones says he feels confident the Cowboys have prepared themselves well with their long-term options across the board up front.

“In terms of building things up and putting them in place for years to come, what would you like to think you could do with that offensive line, I think we’ve done a really good job,” Jones said. I loved the way they face it, and I love the way they do basic things.”

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