Should the Cowboys Make a Run at G Carl Nicks?
In the past week or so, I have written extensively on the Cowboys’ offensive line. In my last post (a look at some interesting offensive statistics from 2011), I hit you with these numbers:
- Montrae Holland checked in at 20th among all guards in terms of pass protection efficiency, allowing some sort of pressure on 2.5% of pass plays. This confirms my thought that Holland was very underrated this year. Kyle Kosier was 33rd at 3.2%. He was just a league-average guard in 2011.
- Phil Costa was 29th in the NFL among centers with 2.7% pass protection efficiency. He really shouldn’t start in 2012, although he probably will.
It is pretty clear the interior line is in disarray in Dallas, and something needs to be done to fix it. I suggested moving Doug Free to right guard and drafting a right tackle in the first round (with Tyron Smith obviously kicking to the left side). There are some pros and cons to that plan, but I like it because it instantly upgrades two spots.
Others have suggested the Cowboys might make a run at impending free agent guard Carl Nicks, though. Although Jerry Jones has refrained from signing big-money free agents since Jason Garrett has taken over as head coach, this is one I actually believe the ‘Boys should jump all over. Here’s why.
Nicks will command a hefty contract, but guards are continually underpaid in the NFL. He won’t garner nearly as much money as an elite left tackle, but his impact (for Dallas, especially) isn’t that much less than his tackle counterpart. We saw how much a weak interior line can affect an offense in 2011. Don’t let it happen again in 2012.
Nicks was the No. 2 ranked guard by Pro Football Focus, yielding only eight pressures all season. He had the second-highest pass blocking efficiency in the NFL, allowing a sack, hit or pressure on just 1.4% of pass plays. Nicks is a dominant run blocker as well. Saints running backs averaged a ridiculous 5.96 yards-per-carry when Nicks was at the point-of-attack this season. Compare those numbers with the Cowboys’ interior linemen (above). Dallas backs averaged less than four yards per carry when running behind Holland in 2011, and he’s a player whose run blocking I praised as solid.
Personally, I don’t think the acquisition of Nicks means the team should automatically forget about switching Free’s position. A tackle-to-guard transition might not seem as appealing with Nicks in town, but an offensive line of Smith, Nicks, Kosier (who can play center), Free, and a rookie right tackle looks pretty damn good to me. Throw in Holland and Phil Costa as backups, and you’re all set.
Either way, Nicks is a player who the Cowboys should seriously consider. He will demand a pretty penny, but guards are repeatedly undervalued. He’s a player on whom to break the bank this offseason.