Before the Cowboys took Smith with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2011 draft, the Cowboys had not selected an offensive lineman in the first round since 1981. In two of the next three drafts, the Cowboys selected two more offensive linemen in the first round, first with Travis Frederick in 2013 and then Martin in 2014.
Smith has made the Pro Bowl in each of the past seven seasons and has been a four-time All-Pro pick. No offensive tackle has played in more Pro Bowls than Smith. Not even Hall of Famer Rayfield Wright.
The NFL's 2010s All-Decade Team Defense! pic.twitter.com/kRyIiiuTEH— NFL (@NFL) April 6, 2020
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If Smith is edging his way to a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame with all of the aforementioned accolades, then so is Martin, provided they don't turn into the 2010s version of Drew Pearson. For anyone who needs a refresher, Pearson, the original No. 88 in Cowboys history, is the only member of the first-team All-Decade Team from the 1970s not currently in the Hall of Fame.
Martin has made the Pro Bowl in each of his first six seasons and has been a first- or second-team All-Pro six times. From the day he arrived in 2014, Martin has been one of the best -- if not the best -- guards in the NFL.
And the Cowboys should be thankful in how fortunate they were to draft him with the 16th overall pick and not quarterback Johnny Manziel, who played two NFL seasons.
The draft-room stories have been exaggerated over the years. No, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones did not dive over the desk and rip the draft card out of the hand of his father, Jerry, the owner and general manager, to keep from sending in Manziel's name as the pick.
Jerry wanted to go for it. He was like Roy McAvoy in "Tin Cup," who had the lead on the 72nd hole of the U.S. Open but knew he could clear the water in two and stubbornly hit shot after shot into the water, blowing his chance to win the tournament.
Jerry raised the possibility of the Cowboys selecting Manziel, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback out of Texas A&M, but the reaction to the suggestion was silence.
Martin was the pick.
A team known for style more than substance, Dallas went with substance. Manziel was out of the NFL after the 2015 season. Martin has missed two games in his career and has been voted a captain the past two years.
In 2014, Smith signed an eight-year extension with the Cowboys through 2023 that made him one of the highest paid left tackles in football with $22 million guaranteed. In 2018, Martin signed a six-year extension through 2024 that made him the highest paid at his position at $14 million a year and $40 million guaranteed.
Wright and Larry Allen, who is the only guard with more Pro Bowl appearances as a Cowboy (10) than Martin, are considered the best offensive linemen in team history, with their spots in the Hall of Fame secure.
One day they should be joined by Smith and Martin.