Best blocker in the NFL? Take your pick among Cowboys


25 August 2016: Ryan Russell (99) of the Dallas Cowboys during their 27-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington. Photo by James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

25 August 2016: Ryan Russell (99) of the Dallas Cowboys during their 27-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington. Photo by James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

(Dallas Cowboys photos courtesy of James D. Smith)

Talk of Fame Network

The Dallas Cowboys have the best offensive line in the NFL both collectively and individually.

In last week’s Talk of Fame Network poll, we asked listeners and readers to identify the best blocker in the NFL, and the three first-round draft picks who play for the Cowboys finished 1-2-3 in the voting.

Guard Zack Martin, a first-round pick in 2014, was selected the best blocker with a whopping 52.1 percent of the vote. Left tackle Tyron Smith, a first-round pick in 2011, finished second with 30.6 percent of the vote, and center Travis Frederick, a first-round pick in 2013, came in third with 5.6 percent of the vote.

Cleveland left tackle Joe Thomas, who has gone to the Pro Bowl each of his nine NFL seasons, was next with 5.2 percent of the vote, followed by Atlanta center Alex Mack at 4.2 percent. The Pittsburgh tandem of guard David DeCastro and center Maurkice Pouncy and Carolina center Ryan Kalil all received single-digit support.

The three first-round picks by the Cowboys all became walk-in starters as rookies. They played together as a group for the first time in 2014, and DeMarco Murray went on to win the NFL rushing title that season with 1,845 yards — almost 500 more than his closest competitor. Martin, Smith and Frederick are again blocking for the NFL’s leading rusher this season, rookie Ezekiel Elliott, who has 799 yards through seven games.

Martin played tackle at Notre Dame but was moved inside by the Cowboys where he has flourished. He was the only one of the three Dallas first-round blockers to go to the Pro Bowl as a rookie. He returned to there his second season in 2015 and also earned his first first-team All-NFL acclaim. Smith has gone to three Pro Bowls and Frederick two. Smith as a first-team All-NFL selection in 2014.

The three Talk of Fame Network hosts, Ron Borges, Rick Gosselin and Clark Judge, were unanimous with their vote — and none voted for a Cowboy. All went with Joe Thomas.

“Joe Thomas is a nine-time Pro Bowler and an eight-time All-Pro,” Judge said, “and that’s with a team that is … and has been … one of the league’s bottom feeders. If he were playing in NYC he would be the next mayor. Unfortunately for him, Cleveland isn’t the media capital of the world nor the football capital of Ohio.”

Added Borges, “His team may stink, but Joe Thomas does not. Put him on the open market and see how long he lasts. The guy is a road grader.”

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(Joe Thomas photo courtesy of the Cleveland Browns)
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