I read once that our former OL coach, Hudson Houck, once said that the "best 5 lineman would start" for the Cowboys. Interesting, but rife with flaws and begins from a false premise. For instance, what if Tyron Smith is the best RT? Would you move him away from LT? Still, the best 5 should start, just in the position they were acquired to man.
So, I’d like to make the case for my starting 5 using (4) points that lead me to a single conclusion, a metaphorical "4 point stance":
Point 1: This is the biggest "no duh", Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick start at LT and C. Phil Costa is a technician and agreed to a new (2) year deal but he’s likely a backup. Cook will go to camp but he’ll have to beat out Costa to be the #2 C.
Point 2: Jeremy Parnell will start at RT. I think that Doug Free will take the pay cut on the table and I think there will be a camp competition. But I get the feeling that Parnell beats him out. Look at the 2nd half of the season. Everyone says that Free stepped up his game, but what they don’t say is that Parnell elevated his game too. And remember, this is a former basketball player transitioning to football. I watch his play, especially his feet in those late games and how he was often left one-on-one with the RDE and come away with the feeling he’s rounding into form. Re-watch the games. Watch Free get driven back while Parnell easily handles the same pass rush without giving ground.
Point 3: Ron Leary will start at LG. Something interesting happened late last season and it pretty much went unnoticed. Leary was promoted to the active roster after another team attempted to poach him from the practice squad. At the time, it was reported that he was giving the starter fits in practice. And if we jump into the "way-back-machine", we’d remember that he was a priority free agent that was given a significant signing bonus. I think the transition from college T to pro G is complete.
Point 4: Livings and Bernadeau will compete at RG. Expect Bernadeau to win out and Livings to be released. Take note: Livings re-did his deal but it was never turned in to the league office. Of the (2), Livings play was consistently poor, especially late in the season. And remember Bernadeau was just getting healthy at that time.
So, what am I driving at? From left to right here is your 5 Star(ting) lineman:
LT – Smith
LG – Leary
C – Frederick
RG – Bernadeau
RT – Parnell