What a difference a year (and a lockout) makes.
If there is one position on this football team that has impressed me this preseason, it has been the youngsters along the offensive line.
If you would have told me that, leading into the season opener, Kyle Kosier would possibly be the most experienced player along Dallas’ offensive line, I would have asked you if winning football games was your primary motive.
Jason Garrett and Jerry Jones knew they had to inject some youth into the offensive line, a unit that was embarrassingly pedestrian in a disappointing 6-10 campaign last season.
Enter rookies Tyron Smith, David Arkin, Bill Nagy, and undrafted free agent Phil Costa.
The drafting of three rookie linemen single-handedly pushed two starters from the year before (Leonard Davis and Mark Colombo) off the roster. That number could turn to three if Nagy and Arkin continue to outplay Montrae Holland. Now it appears that little-known Phil Costa is set to make all-pro center Andre Gurode a backup, or push him off the roster altogether.
There has been one ever-present flaw on this team the past ten years, and it’s been their inability to draft and develop young talent on the offensive line. It’s now possible that Dallas has four future starting offensive linemen to groom.
Tyron Smith looks to be exactly what the Cowboys thought he would be when they drafted him 10th overall. At a young twenty years old, the sky is the limit for him from a talent perspective.
David Arkin seems to be developing nicely since arriving from tiny Missouri State. If he continues down the path he’s on now, he could turn into the mauler with a mean streak that the Cowboys offensive line desperately needs.
The biggest surprise of this rookie group has to be Bill Nagy. He has certainly exceeded expectations for a late round pick that never played much at Wisconsin. It will speak volumes for him talent wise if he is starting at left guard on September 11.
Finally that brings us to Phil Costa. An undrafted free agent brought in last year as nothing more than a camp body. Costa quickly impressed, and now a year later has likely fought his way into the starting lineup.
I love what the Jason Garrett regime is doing so far. They are making it known that no player is a lock to make the roster. Guys who were previously guarantees to make the team (Keith Brooking, Montrae Holland, Andre Gurode, Igor Olshansky, Tashard Choice) are now in serious jeopardy of becoming expendable thanks to the great training camps of youngsters.
I don’t think anyone expected these young guns on the offensive line to play as well as they have this quickly. Imagine an offensive line that consists of a 27-year old Doug Free, a 32-year old Kyle Kosier, a 24-year old Phil Costa, a 20-year old Tyron Smith, and some combination of 23-year olds David Arkin and Bill Nagy. Now that’s what I call an infusion of youth, and a great preamble for the future.