The Cowboys deficiencies on the offensive line last season have been well documented and the consensus among mock drafts are that Dallas needs to draft offensive linemen. Honestly, they could use an offensive tackle, guard (or two), and a center. But is it realistic that they can get the offensive line fixed in the 2013 draft with only six picks?
I’m thinking probably not. There are some veteran offensive linemen available in free agency that could likely help the Cowboys next season so adding one of them could be a good move. That makes trying to pick up one starting lineman in the draft much more realistic.
After resigning Romo, the Cowboys have $4.4 million available in cap space which could be just enough to add an offensive lineman.
With their current starting guards Livings and Bernadeau, the Cowboys are in need of an upgrade in the middle of the line. There are good ones in the draft that can help.
Draft– In my recent mock draft, I speculated based on the mocks, that the top two guards, Cooper and Warmack, will be off the board when Dallas goes on the clock at 18. Be nice to get one of them but it’s no guarantee they will be available. I also pointed out that Warford would be a nice pick up in the 2nd round but again, no guarantee he is there when they pick in round two.
Free Agent Guards: Brandon Moore and Stephen Peterman
Moore has started 137 straight games for the Jets so he is durable but is an 11 year veteran. Pro Football Focus ranks him as the top free agent guard and he has a rating of 21.3 on last year’s play. A very consistent guard that no doubt offers an upgrade over current guards on the Cowboys roster.
Peterman is durable as he played every game for the Lions the last three seasons. He isn’t rated as high as Moore with a rating of 0.6, but still could provide an upgrade for Dallas at guard.
Right Tackle: Doug Free is the current right tackle but it has not been working out as he struggled with penalties and his performance last season. The Cowboys would like to upgrade here if possible and actually they recently asked Free to take a cut in salary HERE.
DRAFT: D.J. FLuker, Alabama is a right tackle that is expected to go in the first round about where Dallas picks. It’s more of a sure thing that he will be available than guards Cooper and Warmack. While Fluker needs some development in pass blocking, his run blocking would represent an immediate upgrade and is an area that needs improvement in Dallas.
Free Agent Tackles: Andre Smith, Tyson Clabo, and Eric Winston
Smith actually had an outstanding season for the Bengals last year but remains unsigned. PFF gave him an impressive 26.9 rating for his play in 2012. Smith plays right tackle and represents a serious upgrade however he is looking to get paid in a big way but those expectations could be declining as time goes by. He has only been in the NFL for 4 years so he has the ability to help a time for a while.
Clabo was cut by the Falcons and is a 7 year veteran that received a PFF rating of 21.3 last year. It would appear that Clabo can still offer a team solid play at right tackle. Certainly he offers an upgrade over Free and brings valuable NFL experience.
Winston was cut by the Chiefs after only one season and that comes after only one season with the Texans. He is a 7 year veteran with a very respectable rating of 15.1 for his play in 2012. His inability to stick with a team must be of concern but it appears that he can still play the game at a high level. Winston has already expressed frustration with not being signed and said that he would play for 3 or 4 million next year. That’s not a bad deal if he is a starter, and compared to the 7 million Free will get.
My Take: Fixing that entire offensive line in one draft is just not realistic so Dallas should consider adding a free agent lineman and use one of their top two draft picks on one as well. They could sign guard Moore and then draft Fluker as a right tackle in the first or sign one of the free agent tackles ( I tend to favor Clabo) then make certain they get one of the top 3 guards. That could possibly mean having to work a deal to move up a little.
Adding a veteran while picking up a talented rookie lineman, may be what gets the running game on track and helps protect Romo in 2013.