Is it to early to begin to discuss potential draft prospects for the Dallas Cowboys? Most of us are well aware of the Dallas Cowboys and their issues along the line of scrimmage. Other than the mainstay at left tackle for the forseeable future it seems as if inconsistencies with the offensive line was always at the forefront of debate regarding the Dallas Cowboys’ problems. The continuity needed among NFL offensive lineman could never establish itself within the group. Issues with injury and unsatisfactory performance plagued the Cowboys offensive line from opening week all the way through the season finally versus the Washington Redskins. Will another year together make any difference? It could but it doesn’t look as if, right tackle, Doug Free will be back at his current salary. This can be deduced from the fact that, well into the second half of the season, the Cowboys began to alternate Jeremy Parnell and Doug Free on offensive possessions.
The Cowboys began the 2012 NFL season with question marks at the center as well. Would Bill Nagy and Kevin Kowalski provide, 2nd year player, Phil Costa a challenge for the starting center position going into training camp? The battle never materialized as Bill Nagy was cut during training camp and Kowalski battled injuries the entire preseason eventually providing little competition at all. Phil Costa himself only seen action in three games last season so the mainstay that was to be at center declined to submit to a full seasons stay. Phil Costa had ankle surgery as recently as last week to repair extensive ligament damage leaving a question mark, at the center position, once again this offseason.
With that said Cowboy fans can find comfort in the form of a Wisconsin Badgers center named Travis Frederick. Yesterday’s announcement by red-shirt junior Frederick has presented a ray of hope for the Dallas Cowboys offensive line and the fanatics that insist on Tony Romo needing better protection while in the pocket. QB’s tend to perform at a higher level when they are able to stand tall in the pocket and settle into a rhythm of sorts and those dynamics begin with a solid foundation. A quality center is the key to any great offensive line and a building block to add along side a solid left tackle, in Tyron Smith, is exactly what Wisconsin Badger Travis Frederick essentially could be.
Frederick obviously happy with the draft grade received from the NFL draft committee seemed to make the announcement with little regret. The red-shirt junior was Mel Kiper’s number one ranked junior center going into next year’s college football season. Frederick played the entire 2011 at guard, moving to center during the 2012 campaign. The versatility undoubtedly bodes well for Frederick and almost instantly catapults him into this years top three centers preparing for the 2013 NFL draft. Some solid center prospects drop rounds solely on height. The difference between being drafted in the the 1st or 2nd rounds compared to being drafted in the 3rd, 4th, or 5th rounds can sometimes boil down to the simple difference of being 6’1″ as opposed to 6’4″.
Frederick stands 6’4″, weighing in at 330lbs., and is strong as an ox. The Badger center has a great anchor, good big-man agility, and nice punch that stuns defenders helping him to maintain leverage. Frederick was the first true freshman to start at the guard position in Wisconsin Badgers history eventually red-shirting in his sophomore season due to the Badgers having so many returning starters the following season. Frederick is largely responsible for the record-breaking career, Wisconsin Badgers running back Montee Ball has had over the past few seasons.
This road grading run-blocker is a pure physical force at the point of attack and developed a mean streak while at Wisconsin but tends to have difficulty handling faster more agile interior defensive lineman but that can be worked on at the next level. In the end, a rookie like Frederick, has to be an immediate improvement now and in the longterm over what the Dallas Cowboys currently bring to the field at the center position.