But he's got the talent to do it. He's got good arm length, he's got great feet, he's a dedicated guy, and he works hard. That's a good starting point."
Speaking of position changes, Barron was shuffled from one side of the line to the other in St. Louis, which gladly traded him for Bobby Carpenter last Monday. The Cowboys have some history of rejuvenating the careers of first-round disappointments on the line. They hit on Colombo and Leonard Davis, and maybe Barron is next. But it would be a surprise if it happened this year, at left tackle. Having a swing tackle with 74 starts to his name is a real luxury, though.
See, the Cowboys didn't wait until after the draft to release Adams, or wait until the trade for Barron was complete. They were comfortable letting go of their franchise pass blocker in early April with only Free as a viable alternative at the position. That much suggests they'll be more than comfortable starting Free on Sept. 12.
The real competition, if there is to be one, will come in the preseason games. If Free holds his own against the opponents' best pass rushers, the job will be his. We'll see what happens, but just know the Cowboys believe he can do it. The O-line coach believes he can do it. After 28 years in the NFL, Houck knows 'em when he sees 'em.
And after only two years in this job, I've learned to take his word for it.