So how might the Boys improve their Oline next year? Lets first look at what they have.
Doug Free is a keeper at tackle. He played R last year and has played L this year.
Kosier is their best interior lineman when healthy. But his contract expires after this season. He's 33 years old, I believe. I doubt they resign him.
Gurode cannot deal with speed anymore and his knee is arthritic. His contract goes through 2012. Time to move on.
Davis has completely lost his ability to deal with speed. He can no longer be trusted to make blocks in space. He is the most obvious cut.
Columbo tries his best. He's got attitude. But he can't handle speed anymore either. Just like Gurode, contract goes through 2012, but its time to move on.
Holland, when healthy, is showing himself to be serviceable. He's under contract for next year and probably sticks around as a starter at Guard next season.
Costa is getting his first game reps now with Kosier and Holland hurt. We'll find out if he's got any game. He's the most likely replacement for Gurode at center going forward. His play over the next couple weeks will tell us a fair amount about his future.
In summary, the team needs 4 new starters to join Free. Holland might be a 1 year stop gap at guard. Costa may or may not prove capable of succeeding Gurode. So for sure, we'll need a guard and a tackle. And this is just to fill out the starting lineup.
Assume they have a top 10 draft pick. Rafael Vela, at his new website, has a draft series going on with Wes Bunting. This linked post discusses top OTs. http://www.cowboysnation.com/2010/10/wes-w...mos-injury.html According to this article, this tackle class is not on the same level as last year's crew. The best of the bunch appears to be Sherrod from Miss St. A natural LT. While the article gives him a mid-first grade, its possible we force him and take him top 10. Plug him in at LT and slide Free back to the right side where I actually thought he was better last year.
But Dallas may go with a higher rated prospect in the Top 10. Either a CB or DE may provide better value (and fill other needs). According to Bunting's research, the tackle class' value is in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. Dallas may use its ~40th pick for a RT and leave Free at LT. Then come back to the interior in rounds 3 and beyond. Bunting's post here, discusses some of the oline guys. http://www.cowboysnation.com/2010/09/wes-b...oys-o-line.html. It does not appear that there are elite guard or center prospects that warrant late first, early 2nd round grades as is often the case. No Iupati's, Pouncey's, Mangold's.
What it looks like based on Buntings evaluation of the draft class is that the value will likely be in rounds 2-4. I'd expect Dallas to take at least 2 OL in the first 4 rounds and probably at least 1 late round pick as well. So lets assume Dallas does take 2 guys in the first 4 rounds. Either a round 1/2 OT and a round 3/4 G/C.
Their line now looks like: Free LT, rookie LG, Costa? center, Holland RG, and Rookie RT. My take is Romo doesnt make it through the season next year with this line. So the only available option is free agency. I would not be surprised to see them sign someone to play inside at a moderate contract like Kosier was. Especially if Costa proves incapable.
Its looking more and more like this line will take a couple of years to remake