Cowboys Gambling on Undrafted Guard Ronald Leary as He Runs with Starters
Right guard was one of the Cowboys' most uncertain positions going into the draft. They had a chance to take the No. 1 guard in the draft, David DeCastro, at No. 14. Instead, they traded up to six for cornerback Morris Claiborne and gave up any chance to get a top-notch guard in the second round in the process.
Not only did they not take a guard early, the Cowboys didn't take an offensive lineman in the entire draft. Why would they ignore the position? Owner Jerry Jones said they figured Memphis product Ronald Leary would not get drafted because of a chronic knee condition that could shorten his career.
They were right, and the team quickly swooped in to sign the 2011 second-team all-Conference USA selection. How sure were they that Leary could help their offensive line? Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com reports that the team actually guaranteed $205,000 of his rookie salary. In rookie signing bonus terms, that would make Leary a fifth-round pick.
Leary is already starting to pay dividends on the Cowboys' gamble. According to Josh Ellis of Dallas Cowboys.com, he was running with the first team at right guard while Bernadeau continues to recover from offseason hip surgery, Leary could easily find himself there when camp opens and in the first preseason game, as Ellis also reports that Bernadeau could miss "a sizeable portion of camp and the preseason."
If Leary is able to win the starting job and reward the Cowboys for their boldness, look for more teams to take bolder steps in the scramble to get exactly the undrafted free agents they want in the frenetic hours that follow the naming of Mr. Irrelevant.
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