The Dallas Cowboys finished the 2016 NFL season with what many once again called the best offensive line in the NFL. However, just as the free agency period was starting, right tackle Doug Free announced his retirement from the NFL, leaving the Cowboys with a big hole to fill as Free was the veteran member of that line. The good news is that Dallas had his replacement already on the roster as they will move La'el Collins from left guard to right tackle to replace Free and then plug in former Arizona Cardinals first-round draft pick Jonathan Cooper to the Left Guard position.

Dallas moving La'el Collins

While La'el Collins is not an immediate upgrade from Doug Free, the fact is that Collins is a first round draft talent who the Dallas Cowboys was able to sign as a free agent two years ago. In college at LSU, Collins was a second-team All-American as a senior and was named the top offensive lineman in the entire SEC.

Coming out of college, most NFL Draft experts expected Collins to be a first round draft pick as either a right tackle or a guard. However, the deal of his ex-girlfriend resulted in police wanting to question Collins and NFL teams grew gunshy and no one drafted him. The police then cleared him of all charges and the Dallas Cowboys swooped in and signed him.

After an injury-plagued rookie season, La'el Collins won the starting left guard job through the 2016 NFL season and seemed prepared to hold that position in 2017. However, with the retirement of Doug Free, it opened up a chance for the Dallas Cowboys to move Collins back to right tackle and now they have five first round talents protecting Dak Prescott and opening holes for Ezekiel Elliott.

Jonathan Cooper at left guard

The reason that the Dallas Cowboys felt secure in moving La'el Collins to right guard is that they signed former Arizona Cardinals first-round draft pick Jonathan Cooper and he can slip right into the left guard position. Now, it should be noted that Cooper is working exclusively at center during the OTAs.

However, Cooper is almost surely going to open the season as the starting left guard.

Other names competing for starting positions are former Dallas Cowboys draft pick Chaz Green, a right tackle who missed most of his first two seasons due to injuries. Emmett Cleary and Joe Looney are also there to fill in at the left guard position.

With that said, the starting Dallas Cowboys offensive line will feature 2013 first round draft pick Travis Frederick at center, 2014 first round draft pick Tyron Smith at left tackle, 2015 first round draft pick Zack Martin at right guard, 2013 first round draft pick Jonathan Cooper at left guard, and La'el Collins at right tackle.