This is the sixth installment of our 12-part series breaking down the Cowboys roster. Today we look at centers and guards.
Cowboys players: Derrick Dockery (free agent), David Arkin (signed through 2014), Phil Costa (signed through 2012), Kevin Kowalski (signed through 2013), Kyle Kosier (signed through 2013), Daniel Loper (restricted free agent, Montrae Holland (free agent), Bill Nagy (signed through 2014).
2011 review: Jerry Jones said the evaluation process of these two positions needs to get better. The Cowboys overestimated the talent level of the guards after training camp, going with younger players who proved to be inconsistent. The health of three veteran guards raised more questions. It's uncertain if the Cowboys want to bring Kosier back, though it appears that they do. Holland and Dockery might not return in 2012. Both players dealt with health issues during the 2011 season. Nagy started the season at guard, but an ankle injury in October ended his season. When Tony Romo was pressured from the outside, he didn't have solid footing in the middle of the line.
Offseason preview: Drafting a guard or center might be a possibility, but Nicks is a free agent if the Cowboys are interested in making him a significant offer. The Cowboys need to get better in this area. Finding more talent in the interior positions could help an improving run game and also assist the passing game. Dallas has to decide if a pass rusher is more important in the first round or an interior lineman.
Bryan Broaddus' Scout's Eye: Other than third wide receiver and backup tight end, the area of the offense that needs the most work is this position. I'm not a fan of center Phil Costa, and I feel that you need to do better than Holland, Dockery or Nagy at left guard. Free agent Carl Nicks (Saints) would be a huge upgrade, and it would allow you to play with a little less of a center if you choose to do so. In the draft, the Cowboys will have a shot to draft Stanford's David DeCastro -- the best guard -- or they could trade down and think about Cordy Glenn, a massive left tackle from Georgia who is projected to play inside. I think the best way to fix the position is via free agency, so the Cowboys can use the draft picks to help fix the corner or outside linebacker spots. But if they do decide to draft DeCastro, you can plug him in right away -- much like you did with Tyron Smith.
Need meter (1-5): 3