Is guard the new tackle?

January, 12, 2012
1/12/12
10:07
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- On Wednesday I wondered if the Cowboys would make a play for New Orleans guard Carl Nicks in free agency.

Some of you wondered whether paying a guard $7 million a year on average (or more) would be worth it.

To me, absolutely it would be worth it. Why? Guard play is vastly underrated. Not to go all Bryan Broaddus on you here and turn into an NFL scout, but the best quarterbacks in the league right now – Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady – excel for a variety of reasons but a lot of it comes from the fact they see clean pockets.

New England guards Logan Mankins and Brian Waters were voted Pro Bowl starters for the AFC. The Saints’ Nicks and Jahri Evans were voted starters for the NFC. Rodgers has T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton at guard as well as Pro Bowler Scott Wells at center.

Quarterbacks can adjust to the outside pass rush. They can see it coming or feel it coming. When the pressure is in their face, they struggle. There’s nowhere to go.

Is guard the new tackle? Maybe teams should start thinking that way.

Some teams playing this weekend already do. Mankins, Sitton, Evans, Chris Snee of the New York Giants, a second-round selection, and Baltimore’s Marshal Yanda, a third-round pick when he came into the league, signed large extensions to stay with their teams.

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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