Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Fixing the offensive line still a must
By Calvin Watkins
The Cowboys have all sorts of issues with their roster and it starts with improving the defensive line and the secondary.
It seems the Cowboys are always trying to upgrade the talent base along the secondary.
As we move forward with the offseason, making sure the interior of the offensive line gets better is imperative to the success of the offense. Last season, the Cowboys upgraded the offensive line at center by drafting Travis Frederick. So that spot is secure.
Brian Waters was added prior to the start of the season to upgrade the right guard spot.
Waters might not return, since he signed a one-year deal, so the Cowboys have to decide if Mackenzy Bernadeau, who started 11 games in 2013 and all 16 in 2012, remains as the right fit for the line in 2014. Bernadeau played well when Waters was lost with his triceps injury and is the projected starter at right guard.
Ronald Leary was Jerry Jones' prized undrafted free agent in 2012 and he started every game last season. The only issues with Leary is a chronic knee condition, which puts his long-term availability at risk. Leary was a solid starter at left guard and he becomes a free agent after the 2014 season, so the Cowboys have to decide at some point do they want him for the long haul.
The draft is short on talented guards this year, so investing a first-round pick on one is shaky.
Mel Kiper and Todd McShay don't have one interior player selected in their latest mock drafts. The highest-ranked interior offensive lineman for Scouts Inc., is USC guard Marcus Martin at No. 35. Baylor guard Cyril Richardson, whom the Cowboys talked to at the Senior Bowl, is ranked No. 63.
Of the two mock drafts on NFL Draft Scout between Rob Rang and Dane Brugler, UCLA's Xavier Su'a Filo is the only interior lineman drafted. Brugler has Filo, a guard, going to Seattle with the 32nd pick of the draft.
Getting an interior player given the uncertain future of Leary, and while Bernadeau did a nice job last season, you're not sure if the Cowboys believe in him for a few more years, though he's signed through 2015.
The middle rounds appear the best way to address the interior of the line, and outside of the Frederick selection last spring, the Cowboys haven't had much success there when it comes to the line. In 2011, the Cowboys drafted guard David Arkin in the fourth round and Bill Nagy, a center, in the seventh round.
Each made the team but had little impact and are no longer with the Cowboys.
Free agency is the way the Cowboys have fixed the guard spots, whether it's Leonard Davis, Kyle Kosier, Nate Livings or Bernadeau. With little money in free agency due to the tight cap space, the draft will have to address these spots this year.