This morning, I wrote about the fallout of the Cowboys basically ignoring their offensive line for so many years while their linemen (since replaced) continued to age and decline. And then today, the great Bob Sturm tweeted what he thought of newly signed Nate Livings:
I checked Bob’s blog to see if he had a more detailed review up, and sure enough, he did. This is real analysis, as opposed to “PFF has him rated as a -10.6.” Here’s what he wrote about Livings:
He is 6’4, 310 pounds, and has primarily been a left guard for the Bengals. He has been a starter and has kept himself pretty healthy so the idea of getting a big body that you can count on is worth something. But, beyond that, I am a bit puzzled at what made the Cowboys rush out and put 5 years and a fair amount of cash on this guy at the start of free agency. He has many characteristics of a guard that you might want to replace. He is on the ground a lot, meaning he is losing battles and losing his balance. This is a problem Leonard Davis had because he would often be plugging holes for his own runner by falling in the path. On pulling plays, he does win a reasonable amount, but it is far from a regular event. He is often stood up at the point of attack which is uncommon for a pulling guard who is getting a running start to the collision. Sometimes, he is being stood up by a linebacker with which he severely holds a weight advantage.
Livings plays high, and in football at the line of scrimmage, that is not something that is a plus. Low man wins, and he is often not very low. In pass protection his feet do not look quick enough to deal with stunts, as Jeremy Mincey destroyed him on an inside stunt in Week 5. As most guards, he is as good in pass protection as can be expected as long as he doesn’t get exposed in space. If the gaps widen out, he is in trouble, and Antonio Smith of Houston was able to make that happen in the playoffs. With the run, he can be decent, but there are plays where the man across from him shoots a gap to either side of Livings and the guard has no chance and either holds or gets beat badly.
In general, he is just not that impressive. I am hoping the Cowboys know something that we don’t, but on the surface, yes, he is younger and yes, he is healthier. But, he is not better than Montrae Holland from what I could tell, and I am a bit puzzled at the signing. Time will tell, but I would keep my bar low on this signing.
Sturm’s thoughts on Bernadeau after the jump (he likes Bernadeau a little more than Livings):
Bernadeau is a player that has started in the past and did not look the part. However, in limited action in 2011, he replaced Wharton who had slid out to left tackle and Bernadeau performed quite well. It was just 125 snaps or so, but in watching him, he looked the part of a promising young guard who might be ready to play well.
His run blocking was strong and he was able to hold his blocks better than Livings. His pass protection was hard work, but he held his own pretty well. Again, a very small sample size, but he may be a developmental player who has developed enough to be worth the shot. Of course, the fact that Carolina didn’t fight hard to keep him when losing Wharton should make us slow our optimism a bit. But, I like the signing at the price and think he has a good shot to be ok.
Let’s not lose focus on the draft as well. This is one of the deepest guard drafts in a while, with many players we think could step right in and start available in the top 100 picks. If the Cowboys decide to go that route, they might have a strong interior. In fact, one source indicated to me that center is a possibility for Bernadeau if they did select a guard in the top few rounds. Or, they could pick one of the few top centers and fix that spot as well.
I hadn’t heard that Bernadeau could potentially play center. That definitely makes him a more attractive player, particularly with Phil Costa currently playing there.
Great work by Bob. He’s definitely one of the best Cowboys writers out there. I’m sure my Cowboys readers already know all about him, but I think he’s worth reading even if you’re a fan of the other three teams.