Building Block-er?

The Dallas Cowboys continued their efforts to get younger and add depth to their offensive line Saturday when they selected Missouri State guard David Arkin in the fourth round, with the 110th overall selection.

Arkin has prototypical size for the position, measuring in at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis at 6-foot-5 and an even 300 pounds. He didn't play against elite competition, but Arkin was a four-time all-conference honoree who made several FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) All-America lists. Phil Steele's College Football Preview called Arkin the best FCS guard in the country heading into the 2010 season.

Arkin ran a 5.36 in the 40-yard dash at the Combine, and has good explosiveness (he jumped 29 inches in the high jump and 9-1 in the broad jump, but he has to get stronger — his 25 repetitions on the NFL-standard 225-pound bench press would be good for a linebacker, or even some running backs and safeties.

Arkin's coaches — and opposing coaches — rave about his work ethic and toughness. He plays with a mean streak, finishing blocks and punishing defenders into submission. He's an intelligent player who works tirelessly and has been called a "coach's dream" because of his extensive study of game plans and opponents.

Arkin's technique in pass protection will improve with NFL coaching, but he already has the size and power in his lower body (he has huge thighs, even for a player of his size) to be a productive run blocker and blocker on placekicks if the Cowboys choose to throw him in the mix on special teams. He sometimes gets caught with his pad level a little too high, but that also can be corrected through coaching.

Arkin joins an offensive line that is getting long in the tooth. Starters Leonard Davis and Kyle Kosier both will turn 33 this fall, and each has struggled at times in recent years. That's not to suggest either is done, but the Cowboys clearly have recognized the need to prepare for the future without their two longtime starters. In addition, the top backup, veteran Montrae Holland, is 31, and backups Travis Bright and Phil Costa have promise but are still in the development stage and proving themselves to their teammates and coaches.

There are some who have suggested the time has come for the team to find a replacement for Davis or Kosier, but before anyone can be traded or released, a suitable replacement must be found. Arkin, if nothing else, adds guard depth and can block on special teams, too.

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