La’el Collins said he signed with the Cowboys for a chance to be a part of the “best offensive line in NFL history.” But the three first-round draft picks on the line weren’t biting Tuesday.
“You know that’s not something that I personally am going to say,” center Travis Frederick said. “I know we have a long way to go to reach anything like that. For us to come in and try and do what we want to do -- and what that is, is do as well as we did last year and continue to improve -- we have a long way to go. So we’re just grinding continuing to work on technique and strength and speed and hopefully we can have another good year.”
The Cowboys rated among the top offensive lines in football last season, if not the best. They rebuilt their line beginning with the selection of left tackle Tyron Smith with the ninth overall pick in 2011. They added Frederick with the 31st choice in 2013 and Zack Martin with the 16th choice in 2014.
Earlier this month, the Cowboys drafted tackle Chaz Green in the third round and added guard Laurence Gibson in the seventh round. They got Collins, projected as a first-round pick, as a undrafted free agent when his stock fell before the draft with off-field concerns that proved unfounded.
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“Our group sets a very high standard for how we work, and they’ve come in and done that,” Martin said.
Smith met Collins on Collins’ recruiting visit to USC. Collins ended up signing with LSU, but Smith’s second try at recruiting Collins proved more successful.
Smith, Frederick and Martin were among the five players at Jerry Jones’ Highland Park home for dinner the night before Collins decided to sign with the Cowboys.
“It was his decision,” Smith said. “Nothing we had to do.”
Collins has fit right in, giving the Cowboys hope that they can live up to Collins’ lofty expectation.
“We certainly have a lot of talent in that room,” Frederick said. “A lot can be said about the guys who are there, but there are also a lot of times when talent goes wasted if it’s not put to good use. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. We have a long way to go, and we’re going to continue to work and continue to try and get better.”
Charean Williams, 817-390-7760