Last week, we wrapped up the first half of our "What They're Saying About..." series with the Cowboys' fourth-round draft pick, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah. This week, we kick off the series with the back half of Dallas' draft, beginning with sixth-rounder, OT Sam Young.
Now, many fans may have been disappointed that the team left the draft with just one offensive lineman, especially considering the line needs an infusion of youth. Young, being a third-day selection will have an uphill climb just to make the team. In all likelihood, he will be battling for the backup right tackle position behind starter Marc Colombo.
But there may just be room on this roster if he can settle in at RT. There is talk that Robert Brewster will get more action at LT during OTAs, so he could potentially serve as the team's active swing tackle on gameday. Also, Pat McQuistan may move inside to guard. If Young's 50-game starting experience at Notre Dame can help ease him into the pro game, perhaps Dallas will have found themselves some much needed depth on the O-line.
From what I've read about Sam Young, he may not be full of talent, but he is eager to learn, has been considered a leader, and is a strong, tough kid.
Let's begin with Jerry Jones on why the Cowboys drafted Young.
Sam Young started four years at Notre Dame. That’s, from my perspective, legitimate production. We would watch him as we were looking at other Notre Dame players or players that were playing Notre Dame and he just always had his man and was with his man.
It wasn’t pretty sometimes, but it was always there as he was in front of his man. We think we’ve got someone that gives us someone to develop.
Sam Young started every game for Notre Dame for four years and I don’t think he was out any. He set some kind of record for them (Notre Dame) for number of starts. He blocks his guy. I think production on an offensive line is when his guy doesn’t make the play, whether it’s pass protection or running.
"I think in every offensive lineman, taking the next step is a combination of things. He actually does a lot of things well, which is the key with him."
Right tackle, right, Coach?
"He played right at Notre Dame, but he also started at left in ’07. So he has done both. Right now, we will start him out at right tackle, because that’s what he has played the past few years. But once he gets here, we will get a better feel."
Tony Romo, enlighten us with some advice for your team's new offensive tackle?
Young on whether he prefers to play the left or right side of the Dallas line:
"I'm one of those guys, if you put me in, I'll do it. If you want me to play quarterback, I'll do that."
Cool! New backup QB? Uhhhh, nevermind.
Anyways...fortunately for Romo, Young is a bit more familiar with the pro game from studying under Notre Dame Head Coach and new Chiefs offensive coordinator, Charlie Weis. Young told the DMN how Weis readied him for the pro game:
"Coach Weis definitely prepared me on the Xs and Os and the offense he ran, and he won two Super Bowls with it, so it definitely helped," Young said.
"I really started to appreciate it once I started going through this process and seeing how much carry over there was in the NFL. A lot of teams do some similar schemes. And the other thing is I had two tremendous offensive line coaches and just being able to learn from them and soak up as much information as possible.
And another thing Coach Weis really was a great vehicle for allowing me to watch film, whether it be of Jake Long, Joe Thomas, or Matt Light, or just old Patriots' film. It helped me get a feel for the game and the things people do."
Young was not a team captain for the Fighting Irish, but he was considered to be a leader on offense.
More from Young on what he learned from Weis:
"There are some things in the pro game that really don’t get taught at the collegiate level, and really the techniques, it’s unbelievable what you can take away from film and how much more of a chess match it is at the pro level. A guy does one thing one play, and a guy’s going to counter it the next, versus college, it’s more butting heads.
"I took a lot from it, and tried to incorporate it into my game, and it’s helped.’’
He certainly sounds adept at breaking down game film and applying what he learns on the field.
"As a team we’d just watch a game on television, and hear a play or see a call and say, ‘Hey, we run that'," Young said.
"So there’s definitely some crossover, but an NFL playbook’s a lot more in-depth, a lot bigger and that’s something I’m gonna have to adjust to. But I do think have a leg-up in that aspect."
With Weis having New England roots, Young studied and patterned much of his game after Patriots OT Matt Light.
"Just the way he (Light) uses his hands, some of the techniques on that Patriots o-line," Young said. "I think it was the 2003 film that we were watching. Some of those techniques were unbelievable. There are some things in the pro game that sometimes don’t get taught on the collegiate level.
"Really just some of the techniques. It’s unbelievable what you can take away from film, how there are mismatches. A guy may do something one play and then the guy is going to counter it the next. In college it’s more just butting heads. I took a lot from it and I’ve tried to incorporate into my game."
Young's DC.com bio.
Young's Combine Highlights
Young's post-Pro Day interview from ScoutTV.
Rick Gosselin says players like Sam Young can be contributors for years.
There are players like Sam Young starting at right tackle in the NFL. Functional players who can play 6-7 years at a productive level. They may never be Pro Bowlers, but that doesn't mean they can't play on Sundays.
The Indianapolis Colts usually start a handful of mid-to-late round picks in their offensive line -- and the Colts have gone to Super Bowls with them.
Coaching is the key at that position.
An enemy's perspective (a Washington-based writer):
Good value: The Cowboys cut longtime left tackle Flozell Adams, and while they did not find an immediate replacement, they have someone who could take over the position in a few years. At the very least, Sam Young (6th/179) can be a starter at right tackle by the 2012 season. Young started every game for Notre Dame from the beginning of his freshman season, setting a school record with 50 starts.
He is not as quick or athletic as many tackles are, but with his size (6-8, 316), well-polished technique, and nasty on-field attitude, he can compensate well. Young certainly is a project well worth a sixth-round pick.
Watch some highlights of Young's game versus Pitt.
Ed. Note - Next in this series: What They're Saying About Jamar Wall.