Big D. Used to be synonomous with the Doomsday defense of the 70’s. Used to be synonomous with Dominance, like the kind the Cowboys had on the decade of the 70’s and 90’s. Used to be synonomous with Dallas and all the grandeur that comes with the beautiful city. Now… it can now be defined as Disheartening, Deflating and Depressing.
In the 116 days since the last time Cowboys fans were left shaking their heads at another end of the year defeat, all we have looked forward to was the draft. We knew with salary cap penalties and financial failures that the free agency period would pass us by with barely a morsel to tide us over. How are we going to improve the team we love so passionately? Who is going to help us climb back in the land of relevancy? These thoughts consumed every fan. It was all we had to look forward to. Then the day comes. It’s April 25th. Time to shine. Time to be in the spotlight one more time. Time to make improvements to the roster and start the grind. Every draft has it’s surprises. Players unexpectedly get picked super early or fall hard. Teams move up or down. Every team likes their pick or else they wouldn’t make them. It’s the fans and the analysts job to critique the picks based on all the possible information we can use to do so.
This draft proved to be no different. It look less than 30 minutes before we saw the first trade of the night. The third pick itself was not what most expected. Five picks later, another trade consummated. The juices of the draft are in full flow. Consensus top five draft pick Sharrif Floyd starts to fall. Top quarterback prospect Geno Smith starts to fall. It’s just like every other draft, yet it doesn’t take away from the fun and excitement because our turn is coming. Floyd starts to emerge as a very realistic option at pick 18 and finally, after the long, cold wait of the offseason, it’s our time. The Cowboys might come away with a steal who fills a void. The commissioner walks to the stage and says…
WE HAVE A TRADE TO ANNOUNCE.
We passed on improving the defensive line with one of the top five prospects in the draft. The wait becomes longer. It is announced that the Cowboys have traded their pick to the San Francisco 49ers for their first round pick (#31 overall) and the 91st pick in the draft (a third round choice). The 49ers select Eric Reid. At worst the second best safety prospect in the draft, not to mention a huge position of need for the Cowboys. Social media erupts, fans all of the world express their disgust with the decision to trade out of the pick. Some of it from the angst of waiting so long. Some of it from the missed opportunity and some of it from the fact that Dallas did not get full value for their pick.
The wait continues…
The anger and frustration starts to subside as the anticipation and hope once again becomes more prevalent. Floyd continues to drop but finally is chosen with the 23rd pick by the Minnesota Vikings. There is still another option though to fortify the defensive line in Sylvester Williams… until he is chosen by Denver at the 28th spot. The Cowboys are now only two teams away from their turn (finally) to make something happen. All of the top offensive line prospects are gone. Now, so too are the defensive line options. As the NFL network goes to commercial after the 29th pick, they cut to the Dallas Cowboys war room. Jason Garrett is smiling. Stephen Jones is fist pumping like he just got into Karma with Snooki and Pauly D. The all-to-familiar wry smile of Jerry Jones makes it’s appearance. The Cowboys have made their pick and of course, they like it.
WITH THE THIRTY-FIRST PICK IN THE 2013 NFL DRAFT, THE DALLAS COWBOYS SELECT…
Travis Frederick, Center, University of Wisconsin
Silence… mumbles… the most utilized word from the Mike Mayock’s and Mel Kiper’s of the world becomes “reach”
With safety Matt Elam, who of course is selected with lightning fast speed by the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens one pick later, still on the board and worthy of a first round grade, Dallas picks a center. To put that in perspective, only 5 centers have been picked in the first round in the last ten drafts. While Frederick is rated as the best prospect at his position, almost everyone had him as a third round option. Scouts, Inc. rated him 70th overall. NFL.com had him as 73rd. Only CBSsports.com had him as a possible second round choice, ranking him 53rd overall.
To be clear, Frederick is a very good player. He fills a need. By all accounts, he is supremely intelligent and nasty. Both are the traits you seek in the leader of your line. He has the prototypical size and strength to really improve the running game. He holds up well enough against the pass rush to be consistent in that respect. The only knock is that he has some susceptibility to interior speed rushers. This isn’t about his ability to play. He can play.
The issue is that it is yet again another reach. Once there was no viable option at the 31st spot to take, the move would be to attempt to trade down again. If that option isn’t there, then you take Elam who helps improve the safety position. Maybe you take a Tank Carradine who adds youth and pass rush to the defensive line. If you really want to address the offensive line AND you want to reach, go get Larry Warford. All those options make sense. They provide reasonable safety and good risk versus reward, all while filling a need. Frederick would be definitely be there at 47 and likely would be there at 80. That is the problem.
Going into day two, the Cowboys have three picks, #47, #80 and #93. Dallas cannot reach again like they did in round one. Day two needs to address the offensive line again and certainly the defensive line. The question becomes… is there any hope or faith left in the front office to pull that off?