Is Doug Free Suited to Play Left Tackle?
Doug Free did a respectable job filling in at right tackle for the injured Marc Colombo last season. We gave him a ‘B-‘ in pass protection and a ‘C+’ in the run game in our 2009 Offensive Line Grades. In fact, he actually performed slightly better than starter Marc Colombo in our rankings.
Cowboys fans and writers alike are assuming Free will eventually make the transition to left tackle. Not so fast. Free performed admirably for a backup player, but do we really think he is ready to protect Romo’s blind side?
The uncertainty surrounding Free’s ability to play left tackle is one of the main reasons we believe the Cowboys should retain Flozell Adams in 2010. At right tackle, Free rarely faced the opposition’s best pass-rusher (although he did effectively neutralize Jared Allen in the divisional playoff game).
Still, he has not withstood the test of time. Entrusting a player with only half a season of play under his belt with the task of keeping the franchise quarterback safe is risky to say the least.
Thus, expect the Cowboys to address the tackle position early (and perhaps often) in the upcoming draft. In our opinion, drafting a stud tackle to groom behind Adams for a year is the most rational path for Dallas to take and their most likely ticket to success. This rookie could prepare himself to start in 2011, with Adams then leaving the team or possibly moving to guard.
Free might eventually battle Colombo for the starting right tackle job, but he certainly makes a very trustworthy swing tackle.