In this series, we examine how each player that wears the star on his helmet arrived at his current destination.When they line up on Sundays in the fall, "will player X outperform player Y" always seems to be at center of the discussion and rightfully so. However, there is more to a player than what you see on Sunday; his journey could have taken many different paths.
Did he seem to come out of nowhere to land on the television screen? Did the player arrive with fan fare and a high grade of pedigree? Was he an outcast from another team or did Dallas break the bank to attain him?
I'll highlight one player from the group to start the post, and then cover all other players at the position(s). The series kicked off here, with Roy Williams and the wide receivers.
Now we'll look at the interior linemen.
Name: Andre Gurode
Position: Center (Guard)
College: University of Colorado
Weight: 317 lbs.
A native of Houston, Texas, Andre Gurode was plucked in the 2nd round of the 2002 NFL Draft out of the University of Colorado as a center. Although he spent the majority of his time as an NCAA athlete for the Buffaloes at that spot, he played a significant amount of time at the guard position as well. Gurode is now working under his fourth professional head coach in Jason Garrett. He spent his rookie campaign under the direction of Dave Campo, four seasons under Bill Parcells and three and a half under
Winnie the Pooh Wade Phillips. Moved to right guard for eight games due to injury during the 2002 season (Guards Larry Allen, Dan Collins, Marques McFadden and Jeremy McKinney all ended up on IR), Gurode was planted there on what was supposed to be a permanent basis by Parcells in 2003. He played guard for two years before Parcells moved him back to center, admitting it was a big mistake.
I'd have to imagine that Parcells didn't like him on the ball initially as his skill set doesn't seem to include making offensive line calls. That is the normal duty of the center, to read the defense with the quarterback and make assignment adjustments for the big uglies. Kyle Kosier handles those duties for the recent editions of the Dallas Cowboys. In Parcells first draft, he selected Wisconsin center Al Johnson in the second round. Johnson however missed his entire rookie year due to injury. Instead of Gurode, Parcells chose to start Matt Lehr for the entire season.
Gurode started 15 of 16 games in '03 at right guard, and 13 of 14 at the position in 2004. During the off-season prior to the 2005 campaign, Dallas signed free agent guard Marco Rivera from the Green Bay Packers. Moved back to center, Gurode was the back up to Al Johnson in 2005.
Johnson, for all intents and purposes, has been out of the league since the 2008 season. He did latch on with the Patriots in 2009, but was waived with an injury settlement in August of that year. Gurode regained the starting center assignment in 2006 and has been a different player ever since. He was simply mauling every defensive lineman that stood in his way against the Jaguars and Redskins to start the season. After a week three bye, he took his act on the road to Tennessee and decided to teach Albert Haynesworth a few things. Haynesworth was a spoiled brat since way back then, responding to the legal beating with this punk move two-step:
Haynesworth stomps Andre Gurode (via pyr069)
Although he took some damage to his eye, Gurode hasn't looked back since. He has been named to five straight Pro Bowls and was on the All-Pro team following the 2007 and 2009 seasons. Gurode has also been a benchmark for consistency, only missing two games during 2007, and starting every other during the span. After his first pro bowl season in 2006, Jerry Jones smartly inked Gurode to a six-year, $30 million dollar contract that runs for the next two seasons.
Many Cowboys fans still keep in their heads Gurode's less than stellar performance in 2008. Kyle Kosier spent major time on the injury report that year, only playing weeks 3, 11 and 12, and the play of the entire offensive line suffered. Profootballfocus.com gave Gurode a very pedestrian +2.8 overall grade that season, -4.1 in pass blocking and +9.2 in run blocking. 2008 is the earliest we can go back with their evaluations. Gurode has bounced back however, improving to a +11.7 overall (-3.3 pb, +18.7rb) in 2009 and +13.2 overall (+3.9 pb, +8.2 rb) in 2010.
Let's take a quick look at how the other roster spots on the interior have reached the promise land that is a Valley Ranch address. Do they already have a guy in place in preparation for Gurode's next contract year? Could Phil Costa be the guy or is there a draft prospect you've got your good eye on? Side question, what happens to Gurode's play if Kosier isn't re-signed?
|Player Name||Pos.||DOB||College||Path To The Cowboys|
|Phil Costa||C/G||7.11.87||Maryland||Signed as an undrafted free agent after 2010 NFL draft. Started off 4th string on the depth chart but made the opening day 53 man roster.|
|Leonard Davis||G||9.5.78||Texas||Drafted 2nd overall in the 2001 Draft by the Arizona Cardinals, Bigg was allowed to test free agency after the 2006 season. He signed a seven year $49.6 million contract. $18.75 million guaranteed.|
|Montrae Holland||G||5.21.80||Florida State||Originally drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the fourth round of the 2003 draft. Dallas traded a 2010 fifth round pick to the Denver Broncos for him in the summer of 2008. Denver traded the pick to New England for Le Kevin Smith and seventh rounder. New England packaged the pick to Oakland, who packaged the pick to Jacksonville for Quentin Groves. Jacksonville packaged this pick to New Orleans who selected Boston College C Matt Tennant. Tennant did not start and played in 5 games this past season.|
|Kyle Kosier||G||1.27.78||Arizona State||Originally drafted in the seventh round of the 2002 draft to play tackle for the San Francisco 49ers as a compensation pick at #248. Signed as a free agent out of Detroit in 2006 for five years, $15 million and is an unrestricted free agent this off-season.|
This article was written using information gathered from memory. Just kidding, I used the following resources: www.pro-football-reference.com, www.en.wikipedia.org, www.espn.com, www.rotoworld.com and www.profootballfocus.com.