It is a little early and I think it will be a good topic closer to TC.
Frederick continues the strategy of having all the interior linemen be able to play mulitple positions, but I suspect that Frederick becomes the starting center. He is a better anchor than the other options. With a strong center we can take advantage of the better mobility and quickness of the others.
With one addition, he changes the entire OL as having a stronger center makes the guard play a lot better. We will have lots of options in the interior of the line and that will play out from now to the end of TC.
Issues we have to work out
Let’s get the team to TC first. We still have some draft picks, UDFA, and FA to go. There are some issues that will help sort out the OL, including talent, potential, age [both old and very young] and health.
1. Dockery is gone
2. What to do with Free
3. Will Costa and/or Kowalski be healthy
4. How healthy is Bernie
5. I suspect that one or both of Arkin and Leary do not make the team
6. Parnell, Weems and all the other place holders
7. Presume Smith, Frederick and Cook are safe
Cook is the backup everything. He has value as the Proctor game day utility backup at multiple positions. That allows us to have one less OL suited up.
Let us assume that Costa and Kowalski are healthy. If not, then the discusion become both easier and harder. Costa is still on IR and Kowalksi was not really ever healthy last year. Their roster spots are a function of their health. I could see one of Costa or Kowalski moving to guard. Both have played guard when needed.
Two years ago I remember one of the coaches making a comment that they were very happy with Kowalski making the team and that he would push Costa. But they also added K may not be the final answer [obviously we drafted Frederick] and that Costa’s long term position might be guard.
We then have some competition at guard with Bernadeau, Livings, the non-center of Costa/Kowalski and one of Arkin/Leary. Not all will survive the competition.
Bennie is relatively young himself. He had off-season surgery and took a while to recover. He was playing at a high level at guard until we moved him to be the emergency center. I think Bernie is a keeper.
Arkin took one for the team working at center and delaying his progress at guard. His clock is ticking, but Birddog is high on his prospects.
Leary was highly touted, got a 3rd round evaluation and got paid as a 5th rounder. Yet he could not make the team and was able to be resigned to the PS. eventually he made some progress and we signed him to the active squad at the end of the season. He improved, but had a long way to go and the signing was more to control his contract.
Livings is the oldest player on the OL [not counting Dockery]. Livings was older than Bernie and could mentor Smith in his first games at LT this past year. That is not so important this coming year. He was the best interior lineman we had last year, but then again so was Holland the year before.
Livings is this year’s Holland in multiple ways. That could haunt him as he is the outcast guard not being able to play center.
I think we keep Livings for one more year as his contract was set up for two years. So I think he becomes the veteran backup that Dockery was supposed to be. He could be cut if the young guys work out. Both Bernie and Livings were signed to give time to develop the young guys.
“He [Fredericks] represents a draft pick, but what he really is is a foundation there in the middle that when we’ve got him and Smith on the outside, we can fill in the blanks as we go along over the next few years if he is the player that we expect him to be.”
Two number one picks on the OL.
These are YOUNG guys to build around.
The ones we are thinking about moving first are the oldest. Dockery is gone. Bernie and Livings were signed to contracts that we can cut after this year with little cap hit. Free is Free.
Cook is the most unusual but he can be the veteran backup that Dockery was supposed to be and still be the Proctor game day utility backup.
My best guess RIGHT NOW
Parnell has earned some playing time, but I am not sure that he is a starter. Weems could be another project, but I think he is a place holder until the end of camp. We could use one more real tackle. That depends on what we do with Free and when we do that. Yet Free has been an issue for some time as my first post in november pointed out
Questions that all inter-relate
Question 1 – are the players healthy? If not they could be cut/IR/PUP.
Question 2 - how much dead money to eat with the FA guards Livngs and Bernie. Livings is past his prime and is Bernie more of a young guy to develop like Costa/Kowalksi/Arkin/Leary or a transition guy like Livings.
Question 3 - how much dead money to eat on Free. I think we have one more year because of his salary cap hit. Yet we will find out sooner than later.
Question 4 - if we keep Costa and/or Kowalski, then do we need the 30 year old Cook, who is the second oldest behind Livings.