Dallas Cowboys Camp Battles: Phil Costa Should Start at Center

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Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett has said the five best players will start on his offensive line. Camp will tell for sure, but given what we know of the roster there’s every reason to believe the Cowboys’ best O line includes both Phil Costa and Travis Frederick. Consider the following:

Guard is where the Cowboys need change: The priority in the 2013 draft was to upgrade the interior of the offensive line. Injuries forced journeyman Ryan Cook into starting duty and he was serviceable at center, but the guard play was a problem. Guard was the obvious target for upgrading in the draft. And then an unprecedented first-round run on big men forced the Dallas war room to rethink things: Either abandon their board and use the 18th pick on the best O lineman left, trade down for an extra pick and help the O line with less premium picks than they would’ve liked, or change priorities and buttress some other position with their pick at 18.

Jul 22, 2013; Oxnard, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys center Kevin Kowalski (60), center Phil Costa (67) and guard David Arkin (62) on the field for training camp at the River Ridge Fields. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

We all know what happened. Love it or hate it, what resulted was an extra third-round pick and Travis Frederick – an interior lineman with guard-center position flex who had a productive college career and, by all accounts, is incredibly strong, exceedingly smart, and delightfully nasty.

If the Wisconsin product is the player the Cowboys war room thinks he is, he should be able to outplay Mackenzy Bernadeau or Nate Livings for a starting guard spot. Camp will tell. But the position of need entering this offseason was guard, not center. So plant that cheese-eating road grader left or right of center and let’s see what we got.

Costa is far more promising at center than Bernadeau or Livings are at guard: According to some scouting reports, Costa’s strengths play well to offensive coordinator Bill Callahan’s zone blocking scheme. And though still a young player, Costa has a veteran’s grasp of the center’s assignments. He’s also an acknowledged leader among the linemen. And don’t forget: Two years ago, Costa’s play as a second-year undrafted free agent helped make a camp casualty out of five-time pro bowler Andre Gurode. The man known to his teammates as Bulldog has got some game, and this system fits it.

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Tags: Dallas Cowboys Phil Costa Popualr Travis Frederick

  • Hank

    Why????? Put costa at guard and leave Frederick at center! Romo already is saying they have chemistry already. And if Costa can play center, then we have a young backup center and starting guard in him now. If you plan on switching him next year, then why retard his growth at center and with romo this year. Doesn’t make sense…

    • John

      Playing Frederick at guard his first year wouldn’t retard his growth any more than playing Tyron Smith at right tackle his first year hurt his growth as a left tackle. Maybe Frederick is the best center we got. Camp will tell. But Costa’s a competitor, and he’s come out of nowhere to win the starting center gig before…

  • ‘mericas_team2013

    Here’s a question for most of the whiners, to everyone who wanted to draft Cooper, with all the talk of him being able to switch to center which everyone seemed fine with, how would that be any better than moving Frederick to G?

  • Catch88Again

    Why do some people want to spin us the story of Costa being such an up and comer? He was back when the Cowboys prematurely released Gurode only to suffer the worst year from a center (Costa) I had seen this team endure. Now, he is a backup C/G at best. And in that circumstance you pray he doesn’t leave the bench. He has no ability to push the line and conversely, always seems to be pushed back into the running back. His best game by far seemed to be that Ravens game in 2012. He rarely approaches such a performance.

    • John

      Maybe Frederick is the best choice at center. But Garrett is going to start his best 5, and Costa has shown he’s capable of winning a competition like that. Camp will tell. Best case is we have three new starters who went out and earned spots on the interior – I don’t really care what their names are…