This week, I’m profiling a few young talents for the Cowboys who could potentially step up in 2013. Yesterday’s feature, right tackle Jermey Parnell, isn’t quite as young as people think since he’ll be 27 tomorrow. I still think he should start over Doug Free, but Parnell isn’t the only offensive lineman in Dallas in a position battle. In reality, we really don’t know who will be starting anywhere outside of left tackle.
Rookie Travis Frederick might play guard, or he might play center. The same goes for Phil Costa, and perhaps even Mackenzy Bernadeau. Nate Livings is likely to win the starting left guard job again, but it’s not a certainty, especially with second-year man Ronald Leary in the mix. Leary, a 6-3, 331-pound guard from Memphis, was undrafted in 2012. The Cowboys really liked him, though, because they paid him the maximum possible signing bonus. Leary just turned 24.
There’s not much we can study on Leary because 1) measurables don’t matter much for linemen and 2) he hasn’t played in a game. We know that he’s a big, strong interior lineman, but that could actually be a negative. You always want your players as strong as possible, of course, but the Cowboys might be tempted to roll with the quickest linemen if they plan to implement more zone concepts with Bill Callahan calling the plays. That’s not really what the selection of Frederick suggests, but it’s a possibility. At the end of the day, I think the Cowboys will end up starting whoever is the best player, regardless of his exact skill set.
If Leary gets playing time in 2013, many have suggested that it will come at the expense of Livings. I think that would be a mistake, as Livings outplayed Bernadeau in 2012. Let’s do a quick comparison:
Livings: 3.92 YPC at point, 1.9 percent pressure rate, 5 sacks allowed
Bernadeau: 3.18 YPC at point, 3.2 percent pressure rate, 6 sacks allowed
When you look at the final sack totals, it appears as though Livings and Bernadeau were pretty even in pass protection. That’s not the case, however. Based on the total pressure each player allowed, the most likely sack total for Livings was 3.5, and the most likely total for Bernadeau was indeed six. Plus, Livings was much better as a run blocker.
I’m all for Leary starting in 2013 if he wins the job, but in all likelihood, Bernadeau is the man he should replace.
Jonathan Bales is the founder of The DC Times. He writes for DallasCowboys.com and the New York Times. He's also the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.