(Editor's Note: Throughout the offseason, DallasCowboys.com staff writers will take a closer look at the roster, analyzing players' impact last season and how each fits into the team's 2013 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features guard Nate Livings.)
Name: Nate Livings
Experience: 5 seasons
Key stat:The Cowboys ranked 31st in the NFL in rushing at just 79.1 yards per game. While Livings was just one part of the line, it was a clear weakness for the Cowboys who haven't had a 1,000-yard rusher since 2006.
Contract Status:Signed through 2016.
2012 Impact: There was plenty of conversation both during the season and after about the guard play on the Cowboys offensive line. Was it always the best that it could have been? No, that isn't the case, but it wasn't as awful as people want to believe. I am only going to tell you what my eyes told me from watching the same game film every week as the coaches and scouts.
It doesn't take a trained scout to do this because it's right there before you – the player either gets his block or not. The one advantage I have is that when I have a question I can go ask someone that would know what the lineman's responsibility was on that play.
Which brings me to the play of Nate Livings this past season. Livings had his moments where he was spot on with his technique and you did see him play with power at the point of attack and sitting down on a rusher on the pass. Where this staff used Livings more than I thought they would is as a puller in the running game, which I didn't feel like was a great strength of his. As a matter of fact, I thought that Bernadeau could have been better there.
You will always hear me talk about the depth of the pocket when it comes to how guards play. There were plays this season where we did see Romo have the ability to slide forward to deliver the ball down the field because of the job that Livings was able to do.
Where Livings did have problems early in the season was when he and Tyron Smith were trying to handle twist stunts, and they weren't clean with the operation. Later in the season they did a much better job because it looked like the coaches went to a zone scheme instead of a man one.
I thought Livings did a nice job with the mental side of the game in helping Smith [embedded_ad]
scheme-wise, because let's remember, Smith was only in his second season and having to switch sides was no easy task. Again, I am not saying that Livings was perfect, but before you just focus on his spot, you might want to dig into his game a little further.
Where He Fits: I believe that he will be the starter at left guard next season. If the Cowboys decide to draft a guard in this 2013 NFL Draft it might be to move Bernadeau to center and put the rookie at right guard. Now, if they draft Chance Warmack, he is a guard only, but if they take Jonathan Cooper, he could play center and they would keep Bernadeau at guard, so that could give them options. In this day and age of the NFL, I really believe it's about flexibility in the offensive line and I think the Cowboys' front office and coaches see that.
Nick Eatman: The Cowboys took a chance on Livings, hoping to get a solid player who could emerge and become a steal in free agency. What they got was pretty much what he'd been in Cincinnati. Solid at times, but with lapses where he struggled with consistency. He's under contract for four more years, but that doesn't mean this team won't look for upgrade possibilities.