Several months back I had the opportunity to sit down with my SB Nation college Roy Hatfield of Gobbler County to discuss the impact of the Dallas Cowboys seventh-round investment in Virginia Tech's offensive tackle Laurence Gibson. At that time, Gibson was the second offensive lineman taken by the team and was looked at as something of a project for Frank Pollock and Marc Columbo to develop. When the Cowboys also secured the services of La'el Collins it looked even more certain that Gibson would be stashed away on the practice squad for the 2015 season. We might have to re-think that position. .
Chaz Green, the first rookie lineman selected by the team, wound up having hip surgery and Darrion Weems has not lived up to the expectations set for him. Those two players were the ones expected to be battling for the swing tack slot vacated by Jeremy Parnell. Thier issues have combined to leave a crack in the door, and now Gibson is trying his best to kick it wide open.
In 2015 the swing tackle, Parnell, made seven starts in the absence of Doug Free. That makes the position one of significant concern for the Cowboys offensive brain trust. With the two leading candidates taking themselves out of the question, it is good to see Gibson stepping up to the plate. During the most recent contest, against San Francisco, he was the highest-graded of all the Dallas offensive players according to Pro Football Focus. His counterpart, Weems, has proven himself to be the lowest-graded offensive lineman in the league. With Green out for the foreseeable future, his presence in training camp has been a godsend for Scott Linehan's offense.
Make no mistake, Gibson is raw. He has also made great strides since joining the team. A key part of the Jason Garrett mantra has always been for players to seize the opportunities that come their way and Laurence Gibson is doing just that. As Roy stated in our conversation back in May, "reliable backup" might be the best NFL fit for the young lineman. If so, he finds himself in the perfect position to claim that role for himself this season.
He needs some work. As far as an immediate impact, probably not. Reliable backup is the fit for him. He's got the quickness, but he is stiff and lacks explosiveness. That is simply because of his frame. If the Cowboys trainer can put some lbs. on him, then look out. He's got a great wingspan and reach. At 6'6", the framework is there. The Cowboys have bought the groceries, now it's time to prepare the meal.
The meal might not be ready to serve yet, but the appetizer looked good over the weekend.