The group that was once a weakness for this team has quickly become a strength with taking three offensive linemen in the last four years as their first round selection. With Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, Doug Free and Zack Martin that only leaves one spot on the offensive line up for grabs. The battle for the left guard spot should be an intense one. Mackenzy Bernadeau, Ronald Leary and newly signed Uche Nwaneri are all gunning for the spot. Who has the leg up?
One would ultimately think that it could be Leary who is coming into his third year out of Memphis. Leary also started all 16 games in 2013. According to Pro Football Focus, Leary is the worst graded of the three left guard hopefuls. Leary graded out with -1.0 in run blocking, -.3 in penalties have eight penalties with two being offset or declined. Leary also received a zero for screen blocking, -7.1 pass blocking and -8.4 overall. Leary allowed Tony Romo to be sacked five times with three hits and 27 quarterback pressures. Romo is coming off two back surgeries in nine months and Leary's numbers wouldn't leave this team with much confidence to keep him upright in 2014.
Former Jaguar Nwaneri's numbers are a little better but not a drastic improvement. His run block was -7.9, 1.1 penalty grade with four penalties. Nwaneri is better than Leary in his other areas with 6.6 pass blocking, 1.5 screen and 1.3 overall. In Jacksonville Nwaneri gave up four sacks, five hits and 18 quarterback hurries. Nwaneri is a Dallas, TX native and returns home to compete for the spot. In his seven seasons he has played in a total of 104 games and starting 92 of them. He only missed a game in 2012 for his only missed game since 2007.
Then we have Mackenzy Bernadeau who has the best grades from PFF than the other two guards. Bernadeau comes in with a 8.7 run block grade and .8 penalty grade having only given up one penalty all season. However his pass blocking grades leaves something to be desired. Bernadeau checks in with a -1.7 pass blocking grade, .5 screen blocking and 8.3 overall grade. In 2013 he gave up four sacks, three quarterback pressures and 17 quarterback hurries.
All three men played significant time in 2013 and unless they end up with another team it won't happen in 2014. To put it in a prediction I am going to go with Ronald Leary due to being the incumbent starter. He has the youth of the other two as well and this will technically be his sophomore campaign. I like what offensive line coach Bill Callahan has done with the group and should continue to improve. Nwaneri could be the odd man out because Bernadeau has some versatility as he can slide inside to center should Frederick go down.