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Mailbag: How Much Do Backup QBs Affect Other Evaluations?


Do you think it will be harder to evaluate some of the younger skill position talent during the preseason if their third or fourth QBs aren't looking too polished?

Nick: I think that's a great question and you're exactly right. If you can't function on offense, you can't evaluate anyone. But really, that stems from the offensive line. That's why the Cowboys signed Pat McQuistan last year – for that very reason. They just want to be functional on offense. But you're right about the quarterbacks. If Nick Stephens and Dalton Williams have a hard time getting the ball to the receivers, we'll never know what they can do.

Rowan: Absolutely. If a receiver relies on speed and a quarterback can't get it to him, that speed becomes irrelevant. If a shifty receiver gets a step on a linebacker in the slot and the quarterback's pass arrives a half second too late, then that quickness won't matter so much, either. The attributes that make a receiver special still need to end in a reception, and if the ball can't be delivered to the player on time, it's difficult to make a correct evaluation. Stephens and Williams don't need to be Montana and Elway, but they have to function without slowing down a practice.

Have the Cowboys done enough in the offseason so far to improve the offensive line?

Nick: That's a question that simply can't be answered on July 14. Just way too many question marks right now. We need to see how Travis Frederick will play when the pads come on and he's supposed to move Jay Ratliff out of the way. We need to see if the guards can stay healthy in camp and work well with Frederick. Has Tyron Smith taken his game to the next level? What about Doug Free vs. Jermey  Parnell? There is a reason they go to training camp, to answer some pressing questions. And offensive line tops the list in my opinion.

Rowan:I don't think anyone can be particularly [embedded_ad] comfortable with the situation as it stands. The Cowboys made just one major move in an effort to improve the offensive line, so a lot's on Travis Frederick's plate right now and a ton of questions remain entering camp. Frederick must become an immediate impact player for anyone to feel that enough was done in the offseason to bolster the line. If Frederick is just average or sub-par, or if the guards still aren't healthy and Ronald Leary isn't ready to make the next step, then it's difficult to believe the play on the line will change much.

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