(Editor's Note: As the NFL Draft approaches on April 25-27, DallasCowboys.com's Draft Series will analyze every position, the Cowboys' needs at each, which players might be targeted for their six picks and some interesting draft nuggets. Part 3 features guards.)
Unlike this year, the Cowboys made quite a splash in free agency last year, grabbing guards Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings in addition to prized cornerback Brandon Carr. Though not the most highly regarded offensive linemen in free agency, the additions at guard in mid-March were supposed to help solidify the line by protecting quarterback Tony Romo and making a difference in the running game.
Instead, the Cowboys went from 18th in the league in rushing in 2011 to 31st in 2012. Romo was also sacked 36 times last season and he tied his career-high in interceptions. They also finished with fewer than 10 rushing touchdowns for the second straight season.
The Cowboys haven't rushed to free agency to get new guards or any new players on the offensive line this offseason. Livings started every game at left guard last season, while Bernadeau started 14 games at right guard and two at center. They'd be the likely starters again next season if the Cowboys don't bring in a free agent or high draft pick at the position, unless Ron Leary or David Arkin makes tremendous strides during training camp.
One name floating around in free agency is former Jets guard Brandon Moore. He's been productive with the Jets since joining the team in 2002, but it's possible this is the year he departs from New York. The Cowboys would have to consider how long they'd be able to stick with Moore, who at 32 years old wouldn't be helping any youth movement on the line. Other guards out there include Jake Scott and Deuce Lutui, but Moore seems to be garnering the most interest and speculation.
How the Cowboys must long for the days of Larry Allen manning the middle of the offensive line. Allen, a massive second-round draft pick from Sonoma State who famously bench pressed more than 700 pounds, is set to join the Hall of Fame after a storied 14 seasons in the NFL.
The Cowboys got production from Kyle Kosier after Allen left Dallas in 2006, and Leonard Davis at least provided a massive body in the middle. But the production at the position's declined in recent years and led to the Cowboys looking to free agency to grab two affordable pieces as full-time starters.
Alabama's Chance Warmack and North Carolina's Jonathan Cooper are the prized possessions at guard in this draft and could unprecedentedly be taken by the time the Cowboys make their first selection. The power of Warmack and the athleticism of Cooper may have teams reaching quickly for a position that normally goes after the first round.
After those top two are off the board, it may be a while before another is selected. Bryan Broaddus has more on some guards that could provide value after the first round.