Dec 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys guard Nate Livings (71) in action against the New Orleans Saints at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Scouting Report: Offensive Line Prospect Dallas Thomas And His Potential Role With the Dallas Cowboys


The Cowboys currently hurt for a guard, and Jerry made sure they can’t get a new one on the free agent block. That leaves either the first or second round. Being an optimist, most of my mock drafts have them taking offensive line in two of the first three rounds. Being realistic, I would be shocked to see them take offensive line twice. Apparently, mid-round offensive line depth isn’t nearly as intriguing as a practice squad receiver. Then again, what do I know about football? Compared to an NFL staff I know absolutely nothing, but than again it was a rhetorical question designed to highlight overlooking key deficiencies in the middle rounds. You get the point. Back to prospects. Dallas Thomas is a durable, completely legitimate second round option at guard and is likely good enough to start on an average team. Obviously, the Cowboys are the epitome of an average team, so he should at least fill a hole. Granted, Thomas would compete with Nate Livings, so he wouldn’t need raw talent, skill, nor desire of any sort. Still, even with lack of typical prerequisites needed to take Livings’ job, Thomas has enough of all of those things that I think he could push Livings over. Unlike Jerry’s China collection, when Thomas plays “legitimate” football he finishes the season. When he plays “prospect” football, he injures himself some time into June. The fact that he had been extremely durable in his career prior to his depressing injury gives me hope that he will not become injury prone.  Obviously the Cowboys’ medical staff will have to look that over. The injury might cause him to drop some, but I doubt he will have a Marcus Cannon style free fall. After all, 4-6 months still lets him enter training camp.

Walterfootball

Nov 24, 2012; Knoxville, TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers senior offensive linesman Dallas Thomas (71) before thte game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Neyland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Charlie Campbell wrote that, at least on skill related areas, Thomas is sound to very good. He excels at both run and pass blocking, while also using proper technique. He does, however, seem to have a case of David Arkin disease. In other words, he is a solid technician but is light. He’s over 300 pounds, so he isn’t a shrimp, but it would be nice if he could gain another 10. The scouting report mentions his footwork, which is important to note for the next source.

NFL.com

Oddly, this report completely contradicts what Charlie Campbell had to say. While Campbell wrote of Thomas’ “quick feet”, NFL.com says that the Tennesee guard’s foot speed “is a bit lacking.” Both mention his lack of strength, the NFL source stating more specifically that the problem is in the lower body, and also delivers a slightly less positive impression of Thomas’ form. They mention “his tendency to lunge in a three point stance”, but with the new coaching positions I think that would get sorted out. Notably, both sources laud his agility.

My Analysis

I think overall, he would certainly be a fit, though maybe not at a Chance Warmack-like level. Thomas should make a fully capable guard, but he comes from a quicker breed of guard. Actually, he started out at tackle and his short arms means he has to be moved, but he would play a quick tackle. Anyway, should he bulk up I think he would do well on the squad, but he would need to be drafted in conjunction with someone else to make the impact on the offensive line fully felt.Last year’s signing of Nate Livings complicates things in the War Room.  If the Cowboys go the one-and-done route, here is their offensive line:

SMITH-THOMAS-COSTA-LIVINGS-FREE

LT               LG               C               RG           RT

 

I don’t love the line by any stretch, but forcing Makenzie Bernadeau out should at least contain the damage. Free will be the bigger issue. Since he has proven incapable of manning an NFL tackle spot two years in a row, he really should be moved to guard, so the team can at least salvage any leftover value. If a tackle isn’t added, that would create a two way battle between two overpaid players at right guard with a giant hole at right tackle. Basically, if the Cowboys are serious about fixing their offensive line through the draft (their cap situation suggests that they are), than if they draft a guard they also need a tackle. It has to be a two for one gig, otherwise they Cowboys will have a bottom tier right-side offensive line*. Where do you think Jason Pierre-Paul would line up all game long?

*Note: I’m operating under the assumption that they Cowboys would put the better guard on the left side. Some other teams may do it differently, but Nate Livings was the more heralded, talented signing and started on the left side. That tells me the Cowboys administration values the left side over the right. Since I consider Thomas to be the superior player, I just automatically sent him over left. Also, he is a better pass blocker, so his skill set matches up better there too. The balance issue could be fixed by drafting a right tackle, but that still leaves a right tackle hole, since I have lost all confidence Free can effectively play there. Either way, a serious offensive line upgrade requires the Cowboys to cut either Free or Livings while adding a right tackle through the draft. Even though I just thrashed him throughout my article, in this scenario I put money on Livings. If the Cowboys don’t care, the choice is much easier-choose the best player available at guard and damn right tackle.

Tags: Dallas Cowboys Dallas Thomas Featured Nate Livings Prospects

  • jrcowboy49

    Moving Free to guard is not acceptiple as the position requires more strength than Free has. If Bernadeau can’t win the OC position then he is a backup OL at best. Let’s hope Warmack or Cooper is available at 18. DJ Fluker @ ROT warrants a consideration if these 2 are not available. Travis Frederick and Barrett Jones for OC would be a great choice in 2nd or 3rd round.

    • Greyson Jones

      Read above. Warmack is preferred in my mind, but as I wrote last week, Jonathan Cooper may be more likely since it seems as if Warmack’s stock has caught fire. Fluker will be profiled soon. Barrett Jones will be as well. With guards starting to rise in value, assuming a likely quality guard for years to come will appear in the mid-second round may be a little rich. If either of them goes earlier than our pick, I wouldn’t be surprised, hence why I wrote about this guy. He should be there, and with his current injury issues he could fall to the third. There he would be a steal.

      • http://yourdailycowboysfootballfix.com/author/cowgirlcas/ Cowgirlcas22

        a lot of scouts have warmack as the highest graded player in the draft, however, an OT is considered a more valued position so loeckel is listed ahead of him on the boards. Guys like Mankins and Nicks have increased the value of guards in the NFL with big contracts. The main reason being: DT’s keep getting bigger stronger and faster and pressure up the middle is a QB’s worst nightmare because he can’t step in to his throws and gets flushed out of the pocket, right in to the path of the rushing OLB or DE,

        Outside pressure is fine if the QB has a pocket to step up in to. So in the modern NFL DC’s have focused more on attacking the middle because teams had focused on book ends for so long. They incorporate 325+ lb NT’s to collapse the pocket and stuff the run too. This also opens up a lane to blitz the MLB or a safety. Landry actually pioneered this concept with the flex. The idea was to free up the LB. With the bigger DL, everyone needs a Larry Allen these days.

        I personally don’t want anymore guys with injury issues. Where did that get this team in 2012? It looks like value and then they get paid to watch. Aka Murray, Lee, Carter. All good players, but not on the field. All had injury issues in college.Out of 8 draft picks, only Mo and Crawford saw the field. The other guys couldn’t stay healthy enough to get through camp. 9/10 times if a guy had injury issues in college he will in the NFL too. Durability should be a top priority when scouting players. Granted some guys just get a bad break like Gale Sayers with a bad hit to the knee or Ernie Davis getting cancer. If one is looking for value, do it after the 4th round, never gamble with a top 3 pick. It’s like having a straight in Texas Holdem and going all in when the lock is a flush. Chances are someone at the table has the flush. I want to draw in to the flush rather than take a chance on the straight.

        Cooper scares me. It reminds me a lot of Tyron Smith: all the hype because he was such a good athlete. Yet he hasn’t lived up to a #9 overall pick. When it comes to the trenches I want the country strong nasty guy, not the athlete. Bench press is a good way to gauge upper body strength, but it doesn’t always translate to the field, as in Poe. He was an athlete and once he put up good numbers at the combine everyone wanted him. You always have to remember what you saw on tape regardless of what they do in gym shorts.

        If you had a guy high on your board, the combine pro day etc, gives you an opportunity to evaluate other traits that can add to or take away from your grade, but you can’t completely change your grade. This is a problem I see a lot in the modern NFL, a guys stock all of a sudden takes off because scouts fell in love with the athlete and forgot what they saw on tape. I am not saying Cooper wont be good, I am just saying I feel safer with the nasty guy. If warmack is off the board, I feel safer taking Warford because of what I saw on tape.

    • http://yourdailycowboysfootballfix.com/author/cowgirlcas/ Cowgirlcas22

      Vollmer from NE was the best RT in the NFL and is a FA. If JJ is going to spend in FA, that’s the guy he needs to get.

  • http://yourdailycowboysfootballfix.com/author/cowgirlcas/ Cowgirlcas22

    Free doesn’t have the power to play OG. In spite of what most think, Bryan Broaddus and I agree that Bernadeu played better than Livings. Either way this team needs help on the OL. My OG of choice is Warford if Wormack is off the board.

    • Guest

      It’s not a great fit for me either, but they gave him a 28 million dollar contract and cutting him would be such an ego check for Jerry Jones I believe they would do everything in their power not to. I think they would try to salvage any value he might have at guard (which probably isn’t much.) If he is incapable of playing there, than I think he is finally cut, but I think doing so would be a last resort.

      • Greyson Jones

        Actually I take that back. I did some quick research, and while I assumed that his ego would override almost every acceptable decision, I have instead found that over all he doesn’t seem to screw things up too bad. That was a sloppy assumption. Assuming he isn’t a cap casualty, and assuming that the Cowboys go another direction at RT, I do think they at least try him at G and salvage value. As I wrote, Free was never a first option. Livings was the first option (in other words the player I thought would/should win), and Free would try to stick on the team by beating him. I should have made that much more clear. I never meant to imply that Free should be a guard, but that if he stayed on the team and the Cowboys got a new RT, I thought they would try to get some value by having him battle Livings. Even if it failed, the Cowboys could have said they exhausted every avenue. I doubt he wins. I should have made that much clearer as well. Either way, the Cowboys really should get a new RT if they can afford to. After struggling two years in a row, I’m ready for a better tackle. In regards to Bernadeau, I simply offer this. Jonathan Bales puts together some really neat stats, and this astounded me. He wrote:

        In 2012, I labeled Bernadeau as being at the point on 151 rushing plays. The Cowboys gained 480 total yards on those plays, or 3.18 yards-per-carry. Rushing efficiency behind interior linemen is typically worse than for offensive tackles, but 3.18 YPC is unacceptable for any player.

        In other words, when running behind Bernadeau, the Cowboys averaged 3.18 YPC. Nate Livings produced a 3.92 YPC.

        *Note: Multitasking meant I accidentally commented both as Greyson Jones and Guest. Both the first comment and Greyson Jones are both from me. Sorry.

        • http://yourdailycowboysfootballfix.com/author/cowgirlcas/ Cowgirlcas22

          Bales is a writer /Journalist: Not a FOOTBALL Analyst or scout. He and I have had debates before lol. Bryan Broaddus doesn’t think much of his stats either. He is a guy who will go to PFF copy their stats and turn them in to an article. He had offered me to write for his site at one time, but after I conflicted with a few of his articles, it never came in to fruition.

          The real scouts use NFL GSIS and you need an Official NFL log in to access the site. The stats really show how far off PFF really is. none of those guys ever coached, scouted or played in the NFL. In fact, they don’t even have access to real coaches tape. NTM they are from Europe lol.

          The only way to properly grade a player is spend Hrs watching tape and watch his play on each individual play. Especially his technique power and footwork. The guys on this OL lack power which is why they get no push on run plays. To me Bernadeu and Livings are both scrubs. If I was GM, neither would have a job and Free would be gone.

          On another note, TCU had their pro day and Bryan went along with the scouts. Bryan said in his latest article that my sleeper Foltz was a stand out. Did a great job in the drills, had trimmed his weight down to 324 and looked much better than he did on tape footwork wise with the extra weight off. He described him as a Mauler Brawler lol. said he made putting up 33 bench reps look easy. Now I am sure his stock will go up. All the scouts were impressed. That is now 2 of my last 3 sleepers I wrote about I had asked him to study that he ended up writing about lol.

          • Greyson Jones

            Sabermetrics are making inroads to the NFL. Watch in 5 years. Footwork matters a lot, but great footwork with 3.18 yards per running play doesn’t strike me as very productive. I could be wrong. Maybe how many yards the running back runs for doesn’t matter as much as how pretty the offensive lineman looked blocking.

            That being said, GSIS does look interesting. Obviously, I don’t have NFL clearance of any kind so I can’t access it. I would if I could. However, basing your feeling on one stats-inclined writer on what a scout says does have one major flaw-that Broaddus wouldn’t be likely to endorse stats anyway.

            In other words, pretend that stats became so refined that scouting wasn’t needed. Broaddus would likely be out of a job. Of course, that isn’t possible. Stats do not and can not pick up on technical flaws such as a poor stance. Still, power exists in a vacuum. The more power stats have, the less scouts have and visa-versa. Disparaging stats would be (and always will be) in Broaddus’ best interest since that makes the value of a scout more important.

            If you want to criticize Bales’ use of solely statistics to get a feel for players, that is completely OK. The perfect article would be one in which they graded a player together. Bales would write a stats-based case and Broaddus a scouting-based one, and the reader could compare and choose which approach is best. That will likely never happen.

            Though it appears as if you and I have very different views on the place of stats, we do agree on one thing.

            I consider Bernadeau, Livings, and Free very below average (at best), and if I had my choice they would all be gone.

            Cap issues may prevent that. (The cap system is not my specialty. You have corrected me on it numerous times, so at this point I have no interest in touching it whatsoever. I do know, however, that Tony Romo is a free agent after this year and releasing all three before June 1 likely hurts this year’s cap, while releasing them after June 1 pushes dead-money to Romo’s free agency year. That may be the reason Jerry has been talking about signing Romo to an extension, so he doesn’t have to worry about that. If I’m Romo, I would get the hell out of dodge and get a nice, lucrative contract with someone else to avoid the [mostly unfair] criticism. I doubt he signs an extension.)

            Anyway, those issues lead me to believe that they can’t all be released. At least one will have to stay, maybe two. All of this is why I have been writing about offensive lineman virtually every week since the season ended. I anticipate at least two spots being cleared. My guess is that Free is gone and Bernadeau is relegated to the bench. Livings is the lesser of two evils (in my mind) at guard. Of course, this issue was the second point of contention in this mini-debate to begin with.

            In regards to your point about Foltz, I read your report it and it was very interesting.

            (Note: In no way am I advocating the use of stats as a predictor of future performance in the college game. The competition is too easy and the game too different. Thinking of Graham Harrell or David Kiingsbury as elite quarterbacks just because they put up 5000 yards is idiotic.)

          • http://yourdailycowboysfootballfix.com/author/cowgirlcas/ Cowgirlcas22

            I think my point was misconstrued. Certain stats are important. Such as YAC, Apparently Bales saw my comment and sent me a tweet which I ignored for the simple fact it had nothing to do with my point. Sending me a screen shot of a game log was mute. Spending 6-8 hrs watching tape just to make a log of what formation was used and what the results were is a useless waste of time. I would rather spend that time watching how each individual on the field performed his job. Those type of stats do absolutely nothing to evaluate players, just what the team did.

            Footwork, power technique, motor, agility, speed, quickness etc, can’t be gauged from stats. I can have a Barry Sanders type RB playing on a crappy team with a bad OL and his stats will look like crap. Then I can have an average RB behind a superior OL and if I use stats, I just drafted the wrong guy. YPC is a useless stat and shows what the team did as a whole. Where YAC shows me what the Rec did when it was up to him and him alone. I see certain WR’s get a high grade and are considered top 5 prospects, but they played on a team with a good OL and a good QB. Then I can have a guy like the subject of my next story who is projected 7-FA, but played on a team with a bad QB, bad OL, and they ran the ball more than others. Yet people lose sight of the fact that he is, 6-3 231, has 4.4 speed, a 38″ vert jump, 35″ arms and over 10″ hands. Combine that with his great upperbody strength and just based on that you have a megatron type player who can catch a jump ball at over 12′ in the air. Those are the prototypical traits for a dominant WR. Now I found the right traits so I watch him on tape.

            How well does he run his routes? How well does he come out of breaks? How well does he do against press coverage? How good are his hands? How well does he block? Does he have good lateral movement? Does he have good burst? Is he physical? Does he take plays off? is he smart? Does he understand his assignments? How well does he read protections? I am sure you get the idea.

            Now I start the grading process. In doing so, I just gave this guy good grade. Had I just looked at stats alone, I missed that diamond in the rough player. Wes Welker is the perfect example: scouts immediately dismissed him because of his size. Jerry Rice was the 3rd rec taken because of his 40 time. Russel Wilson was dismissed because of his size. People forget about the tape. I don’t care about stats as much as I do the check list of how well he did his job under each category. I will stay pat with saying that Kellen Moore was the best QB in the draft. Not only based on his astronomical stats, but what I saw on tape.

            A good example of how this works: watch trouble with the curve. it’s the scout drafting by putting stats in a PC and the scout who uses his senses to do so. We have one thing a comp never will and that’s called intuition. Kasparov said that before beating deep blue who IBM spent millions programming specifically to beat him. Like Gary said, if it had to go through a whole tournament it wouldn’t have gotten to me.

    • Guest

      I never meant to argue that Free should start at OG, just that if he stayed on the team they would at least try him there to say they exhausted every avenue. I believe he will be a cap-casualty. I should have made my point about Free a lot clearer. That’s on me. In regards to Bernadeau, this figure astounded me:

      In 2012, I labeled Bernadeau as being at the point on 151 rushing plays. The Cowboys gained 480 total yards on those plays, or 3.18 yards-per-carry. Rushing efficiency behind interior linemen is typically worse than for offensive tackles, but 3.18 YPC is unacceptable for any player.

      Jonathan Bales, a stats-inclined writer for Dallascowboys.com, wrote that. He may have raw skills, but last year he was astoundingly bad. I treat him as worst than Livings until proven innocent. Livings, for the record, did 23% better at 3.92 YPC.

      http://cowboysblog.dallasnews.com/2013/01/breaking-down-the-boys-nate-livings-2012-review-final-grade.html/

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