Complete Guide to Rebuilding the Dallas Cowboys Offensive Line in One Offseason
There's no other way to describe it, the Dallas Cowboys offensive line was atrocious last season. If Big D wants to stop finishing just short of the playoffs, it needs to revamp the offensive line before the 2013 season begins.
After pretty much ignoring this position of need last year in the offseason there is much work to be done, but it is possible to get this unit going in the right direction.
Here is a complete guide on how the Cowboys can rebuild their biggest weakness before next season kicks off.
Cut or Bench Doug Free
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When looking at the biggest issues on the offensive line the past two seasons, Doug Free is the first on the list. Since receiving his big contract from the Cowboys in July 2011, Free has spent the past two years becoming the biggest liability on the line for Dallas.
He's notorious for holding, tallying up false-start penalties or allowing his man to sack quarterback Tony Romo. According to CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora, it's possible owner Jerry Jones and company realize this, and Free could be shown the door down in Valley Ranch.
Even if the Cowboys chose not to do just that, he can no longer be relied on as a starter for this team. The Cowboys need to address the right tackle position in either free agency or the draft. They could also move Tyron Smith back to right tackle if the 'Boys think they can find a better option at left than right.
Keep Ryan Cook as Starting Center
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Ryan Cook came over to the Cowboys as a last-second trade with the Miami Dolphins before the regular season began. He actually even played against Dallas in the Dolphins' final preseason game before the trade.
While Cook did back up Phil Costa before his injury, there's no reason to have that be the case heading into 2013. The Cowboys have struggled to find a replacement at center since letting Andre Gurode walk a few years ago. Cook has made that position the most stable since Gurode's departure.
He's not exactly Jeff Saturday in his prime, but Cook quickly picked up on the Cowboys' blocking schemes and proved to be a solid blocker up front in 2012.
Costa was given a chance to step up and prove to Jason Garrett and the coaching staff he can start at center. The Cowboys were weary enough of Costa to trade for Cook, and it looks like that decision could pay off if they start the latter in 2013.
Draft a Guard in First Two Rounds of NFL Draft
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Dallas tried the whole bargain shopping-for-guards route last offseason. The team ended up with two mediocre performances from Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau last season.
Maybe another year in the system will prove to be just what Livings and Bernadeau need but the Cowboys shouldn't put all their hopes into that possibility. Drafting a guard in the first two rounds of this year's draft is an absolute must for Big D.
Alabama's Chance Warmack is pictured above because he'd be the Cowboys' best-case scenario when trying to fill this need, and he is gettable. They'd need a bit of draft-day luck of finagling, but they need to get a player like Warmack early and pencil him atop one of the starting two spots.
Hope Frank Pollack Implements New, Fresh Ideas
Pollack has a history with Callahan, playing for him during his college career at Northern Arizona, and hopefully, that history results in better play from the Dallas line next year.
He's not the most exciting addition to the Cowboys, so far, this offseason, but there's a reason coaches like working with those they are familiar with. Monte Kiffin did the same thing after getting his gig with Dallas, bringing over Rod Marinelli to take care of the defensive line.
Pollack's insight could help Callahan take some new approaches with pass-block schemes or better help the players understand things, considering he played for Callahan. Having Pollack on staff could end up being a small step toward fixing this offensive line problem that has plagued Dallas for too long.
Draft a Center
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While Ryan Cook might turn out to be a pleasant surprise for Dallas at center, drafting a center in the middle rounds would be smart.
Phil Costa is about backup-level in talent, but it might be time to let go of Kevin Kowalski and bring in younger talent like a Khaled Holmes from USC. Monte Kiffin was on the USC staff for most of Holmes' USC playing days and would have the best insight on whether he's worthy of a draft pick.
Regardless if the 'Boys decide to draft Holmes or not, the position is still one of need in this year's draft. With only six draft picks to use as of now, it's hard to decide which positions to focus on, but this definitely is one.
If the Cowboys can land a guard like Chance Warmack and then a center to groom for later years, they would have two young athletes to build around for years to come.