There is no denying that this unit has been the teams best in 2013. They have been able to protect Romo and provide holes for a running attack. They have given the protection that has allowed this team to do something that hasn't been done since the triplets were playing for this team. Tony Romo (3,000 yards passing), DeMarco Murray (1,000 yards rushing) and Dez Bryant (1,000 yards receiving) achieved those feats in large part due to the play of the offensive line. It all starts with their franchise left tackle Tyron Smith.
LT Tyron Smith
You would be hard pressed to find a left tackle that is playing at a higher level than that of Smith. He has been dominating defensive ends and he can get out on screens and run with the best of them. The greatest part of Smith is that this is his 3rd season and he is only 22 years old. He has that tackle spot all shored up for at least the next decade.
PFF Run Grade: +6.9
PFF Pass Grade: +17.8
PFF Penalty Grade: +3.1
PFF Overall Grade: +28.8
LG Ronald Leary
It is without question that the Dallas Cowboys had a weakness at the offensive guard position. Nate Livings was released opening up the door for undrafted free agent Ronald Leary. With the Living release they had to pay $2.4 million to a guy who wouldn't play a single snap on this much maligned offensive line. Garrett and Callahan were banking on this unproven guard to play big for them. He did well early and struggled late. Moving forward the Cowboys may want to bring in some competition for next years camp.
PFF Run Grade: -3.0
PFF Pass Grade: -6.3
PFF Penalty Grade: +1.4
PFF Overall Grade: -7.9
Many fans scratched their head when the Cowboys traded back to the 31st selection in the NFL Draft and they were shocked when Travis Frederick was selected. Even Frederick himself was surprised to be taken in the first round. However, Frederick has really been solid for this team especially in the run game. He posted the best run grade of any lineman on this team. He was also atop the list for centers across the NFL. He will be a solid contributor for years to come.
PFF Run Grade: +17.9
PFF Pass Grade: -6.4
PFF Pentaly Grade: +0.2
PFF Overall Grade: +13.2
RG Mackenzy Bernadeau
Early on in the season Bernadeau was struggling and was pulled in favor of recently un-retired Brian Waters. However, when Waters went down with a torn triceps muscle Mackenzy was asked to step back in. He played much better down the stretch which kept this running game moving in the right direction. With Bernadeau playing well the Cowboys can focus on defensive line in the draft this coming season.
PFF Run Grade: +8.1
PFF Pass Grade: -2.0
PFF Penalty Grade: +1.9
PFF Overall Grade: +8.5
RT Doug Free
Was there a player more vilified last season than Doug Free? You would have a hard time convincing me other wise. Doug Free had to take a paycut to remain with this team based on his play in 2012 and the contract that he had. This year he has proved he was well worth keeping around. He was the second best lineman on this team and still has another year on his deal. Expect Free to return and play well for this team.
PFF Run Grade: +1.9
PFF Pass Grade: +14.4
PFF Penalty Grade: +1.1
PFF Overall Grade: +17.9
RG Brian Waters: I don't expect Waters to return in 2014 but there is that option. With the current salary cap issues it would have to be a cheap deal.
C Phil Costa: Under contract for 2014 but with his contract the Cowboys could release him and save $1.5 million.
OT Jeremy Parnell: The same situation as Phil Costa.
OT Darrion Weems: Weems is under contract for 2014 and has a much smaller contract than that of Costa and Parnell. He is most likely to return out of the three backup linemen.
C Ryan Cook: Cook is a free agent after the season and there is no reason the Cowboys would bring him back next season.
Moving forward I don't foresee a big push for offensive linemen in the upcoming NFL Draft unless someone that they really like falls in their lap. Look for a lineman in the mid rounds and one name I am intrigued by is Miami (Fla) guard Brandon Linder.
Offensive Linemen to watch:
Brandon Linder, OG, Miami (Fla)
David Yankey, OG, Stanford
Cyrus Richardson, OG, Baylor
Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State
Anthony Steen, OG, Alabama
JaWuan James, OT, Tennessee
Billy Turner, OT, North Dakota State
La'el Collins, OT, Louisiana State
Report: Boise State LB Leighton Vander Esch Visiting Cowboys
As the 2018 NFL Draft draws closer, teams are beginning to hold their official visits with prospects of their own choosing. The Cowboys have already met with a few different prospects thus far, and they've reportedly added a linebacker to that list this week.
Multiple reports are saying the Cowboys will meet with Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch this week, adding him to the list of 30 potential visits.
BoiseState LB Leighton Vander Esch will be a pre-draft visitor for the #Cowboys. Add him to your list of 30, per Tony Pauline.
Vander Esch is a bit of a controversial prospect in the draft world. As I've stated before, he tested like a freak athletically, and his combine profile alone would put him in the discussion on day one. The problems I have with Vander Esch have nothing to do with his athleticism, however, and everything to do with his actual football-playing ability.
On film, I see a player who struggles to get off blocks and will have trouble finding a home with the Cowboys. Still, I wouldn't mind the Cowboys drafting Vander Esch - that pick cannot come in the first round though.
Vander Esch is a long, rangy, and athletic linebacker who is at his best playing laterally and tracking down plays. As a blitzer, Vander Esch has some rather clear issues. He often runs directly into blocks and is unable to shed at the point of attack. I also don't think he is as instinctual a player as some of the other linebackers in this class, such as BYU's Fred Warner or Alabama's Rashaan Evans.
The way things are looking, however, Vander Esch is going to be a first round pick. And if not, he'll almost certainly be a top 50 pick. I wouldn't be very comfortable taking him at 19, and I'd have to think twice before even taking him at 50 for that matter.
2018 NFL Draft: Dallas Cowboys Meeting with Texas Safety DeShon Elliott
With more pressing needs on offense at guard and wide receiver, and defensively at DE or LB, the Cowboys' concerning lack of proven ability at safety has taken a backseat in this offseason's roster build. With the expectation that new Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard will elevate the play of the entire Cowboys' secondary, the team is doing their due diligence on safeties available in the 2018 NFL Draft - starting with Texas' DeShon Elliott.
It appears Texas S DeShon Elliott is visiting the #Cowboys today
With 63 tackles and six interceptions in his final season at Texas, Elliott took full advantage of being a starter in the Big 12 for the first time in his career, flying onto the NFL Draft scene.
Elliott is a well-balanced, average athlete with the upside to be targeted late in April's draft and make a difference.
If they had to play a game tomorrow, the Cowboys would be rolling with Jeff Heath, Xavier Woods, and Kavon Frazier at safety.
Finding an expanded role this season for Frazier should be a priority in Dallas, as should supplementing Heath and Woods with additional talent. DeShon Elliott would fit this group well, along with the Cowboys' scheme, given his range and disruptive ability.
Should Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Brown, and now Byron Jones help the Cowboys reach their full potential at CB, the Cowboys safeties will not be tested in single coverage up the field often. This is an area that Elliott was exploited in at Texas plenty of times, performing better as a true free safety or second-level player.
Continuing to add young talent at the right price is key to the Cowboys' ongoing rebuild on defense, now visiting with a local safety prospect that should be available to them in the later rounds. Texas' DeShon Elliott is officially a name to consider come draft week in Dallas.
Cowboys Draft: PSU WR DaeSean Hamilton Fits Cowboys’ “Type”
Last week, I detailed what the Cowboys tend to look for when drafting a wide receiver. In terms of a combine profile, Dallas clearly has a "type" of wide-out they like to target.
The Cowboys certainly need to upgrade their receiving corps, but with the plethora of other holes to fill, they may not be able to do so until the 3rd or 4th round. Luckily for the Cowboys, there is at least one receiver which both fits their profile and should be available early on day three.
That player is Penn State wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton.
Working on something for @InsideTheStarDC... here's the height, weight, 40 time, and 3 cone for every WR DAL has taken since 2010.
First, let's re-examine what the Cowboys like to look for. As you can see from the above graphic, the Cowboys draft targets all seem to fit a similar profile. If we treat Dez Bryant as their "ideal" draft pick, the trends become even clearer. Dallas wants to find a wide-out who is about 6'1" 205 pounds, runs nearly a 4.5 40 yard dash, and about a 6.9 three come time.
DeaSean Hamilton, coincidentally, is 6'1" 203 pounds, ran a 4.47 40 yard dash at the Penn State pro day, and ran a 6.84 three cone at the combine. Penn State's all time receptions leader stole the show at the 2018 Senior Bowl, putting all of "Draft Twitter" on notice to his talent.
An efficient and smooth route runner, Hamilton looks natural coming in and out of breaks, creating separation with his precise routes. The Cowboys don't have many receivers on their roster who can win with their route running, and adding a player like Hamilton would greatly help third year quarterback Dak Prescott moving forward.
With the ability to play in the slot, as well as potentially being a Z receiver for the Cowboys and a replacement for Terrance Williams, Hamilton would be an excellent draft target in the third or fourth round. And, keeping in mind how nicely he fits their typical draft profile, I'd expect Dallas to target Hamilton during the 2018 NFL Draft.
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