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Cowboys roster evaluation: Offensive tackle

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This is the sixth installment of a series of articles evaluating the Dallas Cowboys current roster in anticipation of the April draft. This evaluation deals with the OT position.

Part I QB | Part II RB | Part III FB | Part IV WR | Part V TE

OT

The Cowboys have four offensive tackles on the current roster.

Flozell Adams
Marc Colombo
Pat McQuistan
Jim Molinaro
(Note: Leonard Davis is listed as a tackle, but it's projected he will play guard.)

Starters - Flozell Adams, Marc Colombo

LT - Flozell Adams vexes Cowboys fans unlike any other player. The long time starter at the left tackle position has the size and skill to be a dominant LT, but he's never lived up to that billing. He ranks among the better left tackles in the league by reputation but close examination of his play reveals an up-and-down pattern that causes constant consternation. When he's on his game, he can shut down the other teams best pass rusher. When he's not on his game he resembles a doorman at a hotel waving players through to the backfield. The problem is no one is quite sure which player will show up during any given game.

Two years ago when he tore his ACL the Cowboys offensive line suffered tremendously and in that absence he showed his worth. But his worth was measured against the awful choices the Cowboys had to replace him. Last year, he never looked fully recovered from the knee injury and struggled with speed rushers more than ever. He made the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement but once again it was reputation more than performance that got him there. He's been tagged with the dreaded "unmotivated" tag that often dogs offensive linemen who have the skill to get the job done on a consistent basis, but somehow still falter on a regular basis. For now, he remains the Cowboys best option at the position, and because he's entering a contract year, the hope is money will be the motivating factor he needs.

RT - Last offseason Marc Colombo was a gamble, this offseason he was a priority. The former first round pick had struggled for years to recover from a devastating knee injury but managed to have a strong training camp that vaulted him into the starter's role. He got progressively better as the season rolled on and by the end of the year was playing as well as anybody on the Cowboys line.

Appearing fully recovered from his knee problems Colombo solidified the right tackle position that had bedeviled the Cowboys. Consequently, the Cowboys re-signed him to a two-year contract with the hopes that he can repeat last year's success. Colombo has the size and strength to deal with most opposing ends and has a little bit of a nasty streak to him. His challenge is to show that last season was no fluke.

Reserves - Pat McQuistan, Jim Molinaro

Pat McQuistan was a late-round pick in the 2006 draft and is the twin brother of Paul McQuistan, a first-day draft pick by the Oakland Raiders. Given an outside chance to make the team in training camp, he emerged as one of Bill Parcells' favorites and someone he had high hopes for in the future. In training camp, McQ was a hard worker who showed better than expected feet and good strength. With time and experience, he could be a serious contender for a starter's job.

Jim Molinaro is a recently signed free agent who has been in the league for a few years, but hasn't had that much playing time. I'm unable to accurately analyze his game because I haven't seen him play. Needless to say, what he does in San Antonio in training camp will determine his future.

Draft implications

Even though the Cowboys have both starters back at the offensive tackle position, the future is far from clear. Flozell Adams is in a contract year and is reaching the age when the Cowboys will have to seriously consider the pros and cons of re-signing him. His inconsistent play makes the problem even greater. Marc Colombo has only had one solid year in the NFL and will need to show he can be a fixture on the line and not a one-year wonder. With the inexperienced McQ as the main backup, the Cowboys have to seriously consider adding talent to this position in the draft. I expect the Cowboys to draft a player who can compete for a starter's role in 2008. Of course, the Cowboys could decide to move Leonard Davis to tackle, but having some improved depth at the position should be a priority.