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Draft Series 5 of 9: Offensive Lineman

The offensive line went from a suspect area, in 2008, to an area of strength in 2009.  While Romo’s sack total went up this past year, the line, for the most part, was not the reason.  While there were a few communication issues due to injuries, the offensive line was largely responsible for one of the best offensive performances in franchise history.  Coming off a solid year, it was surprising to see Jerry Jones release veteran Pro bowl tackle Flozell Adams.  Adams release immediately calls into question the depth of the offensive line.  Let’s take a look at the current offensive line.

Tackles

Marc Colombo – Right tackle who plays fierce and angry.  He bring a lot of attitude to the line.  His injury last year caused him to miss most of the season.  While the line played fairly well in his absence, it did miss the nastiness that Colombo brings.  He rarely gives up sacks or gets flagged.  Technically, he might be the best lineman on the team.  He has great footwork and tremendous strength.  He has and will continue to anchor the line on the right side.

Doug Free – Free filled in for Colombo last season at right tackle, but his true position is left tackle and will be favoured to fill in for the departed Adams.  At 6’6, 313 lbs., Free has the size and strength needed to fend off some of the most prolific pass rushers from Romo’s blindside.  Free showed some inexperience, but for the most part played very well during his first year of real action. Free is also a mauler who has better speed and footwork than Adams, and should reduce the penalties and mistakes that were made at the left tackle spot.

Pat McQuistan – Pat is a very valuable 7th rounder who has the ability to play both tackle spots as well as guard.  He will continue to backup Free and Colombo because of his versatility.  It is hard pressed for the Cowboys to let him go.

Robert Brewster – Brewster had an unfortunate incident in the weight room last year, tearing a pectoral muscle and missing his entire rookie season as a result.  The rookie is massive at 6’4, 320 lbs. and has the ability to maul people.  He will have to prove he can play both sides if he wishes to unseat McQuistan.

Draft Prospects at Tackle:

1) Russell Okung (Oklahoma St.) – 6’5, 300 lbs. Okung will go in the first 5 picks for sure.  He is the best tackle available in this years draft.  Great pass blocker with excellent footwork.  He has great hands, but is not the strongest run blocker.  He has some trouble drive blocking off the line, but is still very servicable.

2) Brian Bulaga (Iowa) – 6’6, 304 lbs.  Bulaga is a NFL level tackle already.  He could step in and start right away.  He plays left tackle.  Polished blocker and good technically, Bulaga will go in the first round.

3) Anthony Davis (Rutgers) – 6’6, 330 lbs.  Davis is a “Jerry Jones” type lineman.  He is huge and powerful.  He can do it all.  He has quick feet and good agility for a big man.  It is likely that Davis could fall to the Cowboys.  He is a top 15 pick but with all the needs of other teams he could fall to the Boys at 27.

Other Notables:
1) Trent Williams (Oklahoma) – 6’5, 309 lbs.
2) Charles Brown (USC) – 6’6, 298

Guards

Leonard Davis – Leonard Davis came to the Cowboys from Arizona in 2007.  He has been a great pickup for Dallas and has shown his dominance, especially in the run game.  At 6’6, 353 lbs., Davis is a mammoth man.  Quick feet and dangerous on the pull, Davis manhandles defenders in the running game.  He is also a very solid pass blocker.  Going into season 10, Davis is getting up their in years, but the Cowboys believe he has a bunch of good ones left.  Davis has a great partnership with Colombo on the right side and they both anchor the line.

Kyle Kosier – Kosier filled in at guard when, Cowboys favorite, Larry Allen left for free agency in 2006.  Kosier is a solid lineman who does an adequate job of blocking up the middle.  He is not the biggest man, but makes up for it with technique.  Kosier has had his share of injury problems in the last couple of years, but managed to stay healthy all season last year.

Cory Procter – Procter has supreme versatility.  He is able to play both guard positions and center.  The problem is, he is easily beaten off the line by quicker players, and the also easily bulled by stronger defensive tackles.  Procter has fallen out of favor with fans who wish to see more of Holland.  Procter will have to prove indispensable to stay on the roster again this year.

Montrae Holland – Hopes were high for this 6’2, 326 pounder.  Holland was supposed to step in and be the option to take over for Kosier at left guard.  It turns out that Holland has found his way to the bottom of the depth chart.  He is very strong and powerful but makes a lot of mental errors in blocking.  The Cowboys hope that he can at least challenge for playing time this season.  He can also play guard and center.

Draft Prospects at Guard:

1) Mike Iupati (Idaho) – 6’5, 330 lbs. Iupati has tremendous potential in the NFL and is probably the best guard in the draft.  Where he falls in the draft is unsure.  Guards are not the most in demand this season.  Iupati is a very smart player who has great strength and good quickness.  He is excellent at getting to the second level.  He does tremendously well with his hands and keeps great separation with defenders.  First round quality but might drop into round 2.

Other Notables:

1) Mike Johnson (Alabama) – 6’6, 305 lbs.
2) Mitch Petrus (Arkansas) – 6’5, 288 lbs.
3) Shawn Lauvao (Arizona St.) – 6’3, 305 lbs.

Centers

Andre Gurode – Gurode had a slow start to his career under coach Bill Parcells.  Since his first three season in the league, Gurode has established himself as one of the best centers in the game and has been rewarded with two Pro Bowl selections.  Gurode is a smart player and very powerful blocker.  He rarley gets beat one on one and can manhandle defenders in the run game.  He does have trouble with some blitz pickups but is great a quarterbacking the line.

Duke Preston – Preston is a serviceable back-up with good size and ability.  He didn’t play for the Cowboys in his first year with the team.  He is a restricted free agent this year and may not be back with the team next season.

Draft Prospects at Center:

1) Maurkice Pouncey (Florida) – 6’5, 318 lbs.  Pouncey is a very smart player.  He is able to make all the calls on the line and is also a great blocker on the move.  He has good quickness for a big man and is impressive with his drive.

2) Matt Tenant (Boston College) – 6’4, 291 lbs. Tenant is very tall but will need to get stronger for the pro game.  He is a little raw with his footwork but with some years to develop could turn into a very good lineman.

Other Notables:

1) J.D. Walton (Baylor) – 6’3, 305 lbs.
2) Eric Olsen (Notre Dame) – 6’4, 305 lbs.

Next up: Defensive Line


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