By One of the common perceptions circulating around Valley Ranch is that the Dallas Cowboys need to — and more importantly, plan to — upgrade their offensive line with an infusion of young talent in April's NFL Draft.
Which offensive lineman — or linemen — are at risk of being replaced is anyone's guess. Left guard Kyle Kosier, center Andre Gurode, right guard Leonard Davis and right tackle Marc Colombo all are on the north side of 30 years old, and Kosier and Colombo, in particular, have had injury issues in the past.
A former college assistant coach, who asked not to be identified, told RanchReport.com that the Dallas lineman he thinks is most likely to be replaced is Colombo (although he said that if it were up to him, Colombo would stay), and he said there are two tackles who seem very likely to be available that the team should at the ninth selection, when the Cowboys are scheduled to make their first selection.
"I'm not saying he can't play," the coach said. "I love his game. I coached against Boston College when he was there, and he dominated. When I have seen him play in the NFL, first with the Chicago Bears and now in Dallas, he still can play. He is big as a house, and he's as tough a lineman as you'll ever see. He will stand and fight the guy in front of him all game long, no matter how much he's hurting, and he has the perfect attitude for a lineman: he's a mean, tough guy who will do anything to protect his quarterback.
"But the fact is he's 30-some (32) years old and he's wearing down. As tough as he is — and again, I'd go to war with that guy, because he's as tough as anyone I've ever seen — he's less mobile than he was. He never was especially quick, but he has lost a little of the mobility he once had."
If right tackle is the route the Cowboys choose to go in the first round, the coach said there are two tackles who the team should consider.
"Anthony Castonzo (also of Boston College) is Marc Colombo," he said. "He's almost as tall (Colombo is 6-foot-8, while Castonzo stands 6-7) and he has those same long arms. He's a little like Marc, in that he plays pretty tall — some people would say he stands up too tall — and he's athletic but not very fast. He's also a tough guy who has a very powerful punch; he can stop a D-end in his tracks.
"I don't know that he's quick enough to play left tackle in the NFL, but if I'm an NFL coach, I'd feel completely comfortable drafting him and sticking him at right tackle and leaving him there for 10 or 12 years."
The other tackle prospect that the coach identified as being a worthy candidate to take Colombo's place is Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi.
"Carimi isn't as athletic as Castonzo, but he might be even more like Colombo, because of his attitude," the coach said. "He's 6-foot-8 and somewhere between 320 and 330 pounds, depending on whether he has eaten lunch.
"Watching him block is like watching a street fight. He doesn't try to move you — he tries to destroy you. Wisconsin had an excellent offensive line last year, and he was the best of the bunch. He's not very quick, so it wouldn't surprise me if some team looked at him as a potential guard, but his technique is outstanding, and his temperament is even better. When you hear someone describe an offensive lineman as a ‘brawler' or a ‘road grader' … that's Carimi."
The coach was adamant about the fact that if he were running the Cowboys, he would not yet replace Colombo.
"Marc is just so tough," the coach said. "I know he had a few years there where he missed games with injuries, but he has played a lot more in recent years (Colombo played in all 48 of the Cowboys' games between 2006 and 2008, played nine games in 2009 and 15 of 16 games last year). If they want a good backup for him or if they want to groom his heir apparent … fine. But I wouldn't replace him yet. I think he's got at least a couple of years left in him. He's not the most athletic guy in the world, but he's not protecting (Tony) Romo's blind side, either. He's a little stiff, but it has worked for a lot of years. He's still tough to get around. Young linemen can learn a lot from Marc Colombo."
EXCLUSIVE: Colombo on the way out?
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