IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys officially added veteran guard Uche Nwaneri to their roster on June 27, 2014.
The deal hardly comes as a surprise, as rumors surfaced that the team had agreed to terms with the longtime Jaguars starter, but the move wasn’t finalized until today.
To make room for Nwaneri on the Dallas Cowboys 90-man roster, the team placed guard Tyronne Green on its reserved/injured list. Green had been on the roster for a month to the day, as the Cowboys signed him on May 27 after the first day of Organized Team Activities.
He was drafted by Jacksonville No. 149 overall in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He became the Jaguars’ starting left guard in his second season before he switched to right guard in 2009. He stayed there from that point on, serving as the starter for five-straight seasons and missing just four of a possible 80 starts.
He played at Purdue, where he was a college teammate of fellow 2007 draftee and longtime Cowboy Anthony Spencer. Nwaneri’s familiarity with the Cowboys likely goes back farther than that, however. He is a native of the Dallas area and attended Naaman Forest High School in nearby Garland, Texas, which likely contributed to his interest in the Dallas Cowboys.
The Jaguars released the veteran in March as a cap-saving move.
All told, Nwaneri has 92 NFL starts to his name, giving him more than the Dallas Cowboys’ duo of Ronald Leary and Mackenzy Bernadeau combined.
It remains to be seen what the plan would be for Nwaneri going forward, but a backup role seems likely. Given his experience at both guard positions, he could potentially fill in for either Zack Martin or the eventual starter at left guard – be it Leary or Bernadeau.
PRO SCOUTING REPORT: Uche Nwaneri’s strength is in pass protection
Uche Nwaneri: | Guard | 6-3, 303 | Purdue | Drafted: Jaguars 5th round, 2007
Games Studied: 2013 Seattle, Denver and Houston
Nwaneri was the starter at right guard for the Jaguars in these games. He doesn’t have the physical appearance of the other guards on this current roster, and he is not a thick or strong-looking player.
There is length in his arms and lower legs — rangy and long. He is a narrow-based player. He had some snaps where he got thrown off his blocks because of his foot work. He is a much better blocker when his man doesn’t have much movement to his game. He was able to hold up much better dealing with a guy like Kevin Vickerson of the Broncos better than he was guys like Michael Bennett and Brandon Mebane of the Seahawks.
He had a couple of nice pass sets when he had to pick up J.J. Watt of the Texans. Is the type of blocker that goes for stalemates and holding his man at the line of scrimmage moreso than trying to drive them off the ball. If he can get his hands inside on a defender, he has a chance to control and stay in position.
He will give the effort to finish the block, but when his hands are not in the proper place, he has no shot. Much better pass blocker than run from what I was able to observe. Not really sure how well he is going to fit in this scheme when it comes to making those blocks on the second level. He doesn’t play with much smoothness or athletic ability. Was used as a short puller but there was always something on the path that was keeping him from targeting his man and completing the job.
There were times where he was just a one-shot blocker. Seattle and Denver were games where this happened much too often. Fast flow linebackers were a nightmare for him. As mentioned, his best trait is that of a pass protector. I wouldn’t say that he has great lower-body power because there are snaps where you see him give ground to the quarterback inside. Legs will become straight, but to his credit, he is able to hang on and stay in front of his man. He is aware to pass stunts with the tackle and keep himself in position.
In these games, he showed the ability to adjust to his man quickly, which was a trait he didn’t show much as a run blocker. There were snaps where he would bend at the waist and become overextended instead of sitting down on his man but somehow he managed to get away with this.
I have a feeling the plan for this player is to have a veteran on the roster to play in the second half of these preseason games so the front office can evaluate the young offensive skill players and not get the quarterback hurt. Nwaneri will be steady and workman-like but in my opinion, he is not as good of a player as veteran Mackenzy Bernadeau and youngster Ronald Leary, who will be battling for the starting job.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Pro Football Analyst/Former NFL Scout
INBOX AND ANALYSIS: Signing veteran Guard Uche Nwaneri
Question from JOHN TURNER | HENDERSON, NV: Sorry, I’m confused. Why sign another offensive lineman? From everything you guys have put out, it doesn’t seem like the Cowboys need to waste the money. They need to sign who they have.
Helman: Well, judging by the fact that Uche Nwaneri has been a free agent for this long, I doubt the price is especially high. This isn’t the type of contract that’s going to hinder their ability to sign (extensions) the likes of Dez Bryant or Tyron Smith. All it does is add depth and maybe some training camp competition to what already looks like a strong offensive line. Seems like a good deal to me.
Kavner: I’d be shocked to see this be any sort of big money deal. It seems this offseason and through the draft, the Dallas Cowboys’ main focus has been depth. They’ve dealt with enough situations the past couple seasons with injured players that they don’t want to find themselves having to cycle through players off the street when their starters get hurt. Outside of the loser of the Mackenzy Bernadeau/Ron Leary left guard competition, there weren’t any other proven (veteran) interior linemen on this team.
Question from CARL DAVIS | STOCKTON, CA: We know the the O-line is getting better, that things with Zack Martin are heading in the right direction, but what, if any, is the true meaning on the Dallas Cowboys signing Uche Nwaneri? Can this possibly be tied into the legal dealings that Ronald Leary may soon be facing?
Broaddus: I don’t believe this is the case at all. From what I am hearing, Leary has been cleared and would not be suspended by the league. As far as the signing of Nwaneri, it just the front office’s way of finding a veteran player that has experience to play in the second half of these preseason games and allow guys like Brandon Weeden and these running backs to get work without having to perform behind a line that is made up of rookies and free agents. Those guys need to be evaluated as well. It’s a smart and necessary way to have a functioning offense in these games.
Kavner: I don’t think so, but I think it is to provide insurance. The Dallas Cowboys don’t have much by way of backups on the offensive line. We tout the benefits of a young, talented offensive line in Dallas, but there really isn’t a whole lot of experience there. If anyone struggles or goes down, Nwaneri’s one of the lone vets with a ton of starting reps and experience who can fill in.