So far in our offensive tackle free agency series, we have looked at three different players that the Arizona Cardinals could possibly look at. Tyson Clabo, Jared Gaither and Marshal Yanda will all be looking for new contracts once a new CBA is agreed upon and whether or not they stay with their current teams is up in the air.
Today, I will be presenting you with the fourth of five players that will be covered in the offensive tackle category. Next week, we will be looking at the guard position, which is another spot that the Cardinals will need to address.
Jared Gaither could become a right tackle on his next team, along with Tyson Clabo. Marshal Yanda has played at the right tackle position, but he could end up as a guard with his new contract. But when it comes to Doug Free, there is no doubt that whatever team he lands on, he will want to be a left tackle, which was his position on the Dallas Cowboys last season.
To see more about Doug Free and why it could be a possibility that he lands in Arizona, hit the jump.
Yesterday I presented you with some stats about Levi Brown. To recap, Levi allowed ten sacks, ten hits and 50 quarterback pressures on 642 snaps during the 2010 season. That amount of pressure came in at a 10.9% rate. These stats are not good to put it mildly.
Doug Free did much better in his first full year starting as Tony Romo's(and John Kitna's) blindside protector. Free allowed only five sacks, seven hits and 21 pressures on 668 pass block snaps for a pressure rate of 4.9%. That is the same pressure percentage as Marshal Yanda, who played mainly as a right tackle last season. The only knock against Free was that he had 13 penalties called against him, with two being declined. Something like that is an easy fix.
Here is a little historical background on Doug Free: Free played his college ball at Northern Illinois, he almost quit football as a freshman in high school to become a dairy farmer, he was formerly a tight end, but was drafted as an offensive lineman in the fourth round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. He will be entering his fifth season in the league and could be on his way out of Dallas especially with new draftee Tyron Smith coming into the fold.
Here is what Scouts, Inc. has for Doug Free:
Free was able to gain valuable playing time in 2009, securing seven starts due to injury along the offensive line. He has a good combination of size and athleticism, and he has improved his overall technique and effectiveness since entering the league in 2007. He has quickness off the ball in the run game with the ability to arrive with good pad level. He's not explosive on contact but has good quickness to engage. He is inconsistent with adjustments after contact and with his ability to sustain. He shows good reaction to slanting defensive ends. Free has good athleticism but lacks great power as a zone run blocker.
To put it all in perspective, let's compare Doug Free to Jared Gaither (you can find my post on him by clicking here). Gaither is 6'9" tall and weighs roughly 340 pounds. Free is 6'6" and weighs 320 pounds, which is a bit smaller than Gaither, but he is still large enough to be an effective lineman.
The main difference between the two comes in the form of protection strengths. Gaither is an excellent run blocker as he is able to get into the second tier of the defense with much more ease and he can use his strength to block the largest of defenders. Doug Free, on the other hand, does not have the same power as Gaither to be as effective as a run blocker, but he is a much better pass blocker.
If Ken Whisenhunt and the Cardinals staff decide to throw the ball at the rate they did last year, Free would probably be a much better fit for Arizona. The Cowgirls threw the ball 60.5% of the time, while the Cardinals did so at a 65% clip, so Doug Free would be coming to a situation where he would still be playing in a pass first offense unless something is changed.
Free will more than likely be a left tackle no matter where he plays, we know that much. With that position comes a heavy payday, for left tackles in the NFL are always after a heavy ransom due to their demand and the higher level of skill that it takes to play that position. I am enthralled with the idea of bringing Doug Free to Glendale. Levi Brown has been criticized by many fans for his poor play as a blindside blocker and could easily become more effective if pushed to the interior of the line.
A potential starting offensive line for the Cardinals could look like this (from left to right):
What do you think Cardinals fans? If our offense remains 65-35 favoring the pass, Free would probably be the best option available as a pass protecting tackle. Also, he is still very effective at run blocking, but is not on the same level as some of the other free agents available.
Should the Arizona Cardinals go after Doug Free?
In this video, Free is playing as the right tackle wearing #68. You can see that he has some speed and athleticism as he is able to get down the field rather quickly, allowing him to throw a good block to let Felix Jones score.