Position series: Offensive tackle

February, 17, 2011

Our offseason Cowboys position series continues with a look at the offensive tackles.

Players: Doug Free (free agent), Alex Barron (free agent), Marc Colombo (signed through 2012), Sam Young (signed through 2013), Jermey Parnell (signed through 2011) and Robert Brewster (signed through 2012).

[+] EnlargeMarc Colombo
Scott Boehm/Getty ImagesMarc Colombo's durability is an issue after dealing with injuries throughout the season.
Top free agents: Matt Light, New England Patriots; Jonathan Scott, Pittsburgh Steelers; Willie Colon, Pittsburgh Steelers; Jonathan Goodwin, New Orleans Saints and Jermon Bushrod, New Orleans Saints.

Top draft prospects: Nate Solder, Colorado; Tyron Smith, USC; Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin; Anthony Castonzo, Boston College and Benjamin Ijalana, Villanova.

2010 review: Free was the strongest of Dallas' group and Barron the weakest of all the lineman who saw action. Barron's three holding calls in the season opener at Washington -- one of which negated a game-winning touchdown -- set the tone for his season. Free allowed just five sacks and proved he could handle the switch from the right side. Colombo missed the opener while recovering from knee surgery and battled nagging injuries most of the season. Colombo's durability is an issue moving forward, making the line an area the Cowboys will explore in the draft. Offensive line coach Hudson Houck liked the development of Young, and there is hope Parnell can emerge into something down the line.

Offseason preview: Free is a stable force, but there are questions about Colombo and whether Young and Parnell can emerge as consistent contributors for 2011 and beyond. Brewster has been a major disappointment from that 2009 draft class and it's doubtful he'll return next season. Drafting a tackle is a must, especially if you get one in the early rounds who can contribute right away.

Need meter (1-5): 4
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.



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