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Thursday, July 7, 2011
Cowboys offensive line thoughts

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

Our amigos over at ESPNDallas.com have a position-by-position series going on about the Cowboys, and today Todd Archer takes a look at the offensive line. Todd argues that Tyron Smith is the Cowboys lineman most hurt by the lockout because "all rookie linemen need time to get physically stronger, and this is the time of year when they work almost exclusively in the weight room. Getting time on the field, even without pads, in May and June would have allowed Smith to learn at a slower pace. Now he will have to learn on the fly when training camp begins."

A worthwhile point. As people continue to ask who's been helped and hurt most by the lockout, the answer to the latter has consistently been "the rookies," since they haven't had time to work with their new teams, hear from their new coaches, learn the various offenses/defenses they'll need to know, etc. And since negotiating and signing contracts with draft picks is likely to be one of the last orders of business for teams post-lockout (since they have those guys under control, unlike the potential free agents they'll need to add), it could take even longer for top picks such as Smith to get under contract and get to training camp.

Todd goes on to name guard Kyle Kosier as the Cowboys lineman with the most to gain from the lockout, since he's "an unrestricted free agent, but the Cowboys must keep him. He will not command a big-time contract and his value cannot be overlooked. He makes a lot of the line calls and knows how to work in space and leverage."

It's interesting that Todd picked Kosier and not left tackle Doug Free, who also is in line to be unrestricted (assuming a return to pre-2010 free agency rules) and gets a lot more ink after his excellent first season as the starting left tackle. It's worth noting Kosier's value to the line, but I wonder if Todd just sees Free's return as a foregone conclusion as I and many others do, and Kosier's as either less certain or more important, given the responsibility he takes for the line calls.

Maybe I'll call Todd and ask. Or Todd, if you're reading this, you can chime in down below on the comments and clue us in on your thinking. Don't worry. Most of them don't bite.