Oct 20, 2012; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers offensive lineman Travis Frederick (72) during warmups prior to the game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin defeated Minnesota 38-13. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Even in the Draft the Cowboys Fumble Late

An entire offseason of speculation on how to improve the Cowboys roster, a gutting of the team due to salary cap restrictions and a lack of cap space resulting in the Cowboys being shut out of any chance at signing top level free agents meant that the draft would be the saving grace for the 2013 season.The Dallas fan base stood by as the quarterback with one playoff victory in three playoff appearances in 10 seasons (6 1/2 as a starter) was made the highest paid player in terms of guaranteed money. We accepted this as fans because we expected the Cowboys to make a splash in the Draft, only to watch that splash turn into a belly flop Thursday night and continue throughout Friday night as well.

Much like the problems that have plagued the quarterback, the Dallas front office followed suit with the same kind of mistakes. They started off well, only to provide a let down when it mattered the most. They started with a trade out of the number 18 pick down to number 31 in Round 1, when the top offensive linemen flew off the board in the top 15 picks. The trade with the San Francisco 49ers gave the Cowboys an extra Third Round pick to fill holes in their roster. Then as the Cowboys typically do on the field, they fumbled and completely screwed up as time ran out on the Draft with the selection of Travis Frederick – C – Wisconsin.

November 24, 2012; University Park, PA, USA; Wisconsin Badgers offensive lineman Travis Frederick (72) blocks Penn State Nittany Lions defensive tackle DaQuan Jones (91) at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Before we get ahead of ourselves, lets take a break and simply state this is not a hit piece on the young man from Wisconsin. He is a solid player and has a fine resume as a collegiate player. Frederick himself was a part of a Wisconsin team that ran the ball better than anyone the last two seasons and he has the versatility and experience to play both guard and center, which was the basis for his appeal to the Cowboys brain trust. The problem with the pick is that there is not a Draft Analyst, outside of the Dallas War Room that had Frederick rated higher than a mid Second to Third round grade.

Coming into the NFL Draft on Thursday Night it was no secret that the Cowboys needed help on all phases of the offensive line. They could have used a tackle to kick Doug Free either inside to guard, or as most fans would rather see to the curb. They also needed help inside at either guard or center. Prior to the Draft fans were hopeful that a tackle or one of the top guards, Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper would land in their lap at pick number 18. Unfortunately for the Cowboys three of the top four picks were tackles and the two guards were all taken in the top 10. Then DJ Fluker went at 11 to San Diego and the offensive line prospects were falling off the board.

The Cowboys were also hoping for defensive help at safety and defensive tackle. However those dreams were slashed when both top defensive tackles, Star Lotulelei and Sheldon Richardson, were taken back to back at 13 and 14. At safety the top guy, Kenny Vaccaro was snatched up at 15 by New Orleans. This left the Cowboys at 18 with players they did not desire. Sharrif Floyd, considered a top prospect was available, but character  concerns at defensive tackle has not worked for the Cowboys this past season with the transgressions of Josh Brent and Jay Ratliff. So the Cowboys made a calculated decision to trade out of of the 18th pick with the 49ers for the 31st pick and the 12th pick in the third round (74th Overall).

The trade back was not a bad decision, however the compensation was not up to par. The Cowboys allowed the 49ers to move up 13 places in round One and received only one extra third round pick. By comparison, when St. Louis moves up 8 places earlier in the Draft the Bills received a second round pick, a swap of third round picks and a seventh round pick. With that thinking in mind, the Cowboys gave up more places to the 49ers and received less compensation for their move.

Living with an inferior trade was only compounded by the selections of the two teams involved in the trade. The 49ers used the 18th pick to grab LSU safety Eric Reid, which as discussed earlier was a need of the Cowboys. The pain was increased exponentially by the Cowboys selection of Frederick.Doing extensive Draft research, many draft projections have been studied. I have yyet to find one projection or big board that had Frederick higher than 45 . The consensus of most Draft boards had Frederick as a third round grade. Many draft boards did not even have Frederick as the highest interior lineman in the Draft.

When analyzing the trade and the pick together the Cowboys passed on such prospects as Eric Reid, Sharrif Floyd, Sylvester Williams Alec Ogletree and Matt Elam. All of these players could have filled needs for the Cowboys and were ranked higher than Frederick as far as projected production is considered.

The Cowboys had opportunities to remedy their first round pick Thursday night with three picks Friday night, and the Cowboys continued to pull out picks that make fans scratch their heads. In the second round the Cowboys neglected any need and took Gavin Escobar – TE – San Diego State. This player is a guy that I like as a prospect, but fail to recognize where he helps within the Cowboys roster. The Cowboys already have an All-World TE in Jason Witten, and they used a draft pick last year on James Hanna, an emerging talent at TE. So it is likely that Escobar will be a third tight end and a rotational player within their system.

In the third round the Cowboys used the pick they got in the trade with the 49ers to select Terrance Williams – WR – Baylor. The questions about this pick are very wide and very frustrating to a team that needed help on defense. The Cowboys already have Dez Bryant and Miles Austin. They have an emerging player in Dwayne Harris, who played admirably as the slot receiver. They have Cole Beasley and Danny Coale who were both projected as slot receivers. So now they add another wide receiver to the mix. Not to mention that despite the talent of Terrance Williams, many scouts and analysis of Williams said that he lacks the breakaway speed to separate from NFL cornerbacks, so the Cowboys will have another receiver that fails to create separation and can be shut down by one player allowing teams to focus on Bryant WItten and Austin when Tony Romo drops back to pass.

With their second pick in the third round the Cowboys finally filled a need on their roster taking J.J. Wilcox – S – Georgia Southern. This pick I really liked for the slot that the Cowboys were in. They finally got a player who can fit in the “Tampa 2″ defensive scheme. The Cowboys switch in defensive philosophy meant they needed a guy in the secondary that can cover the deep half of the field, and Wilcox fits that need perfectly.

Out of the four picks the Cowboys had in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft, there is only one that I really liked. J.J. Wilcox filled their need on the back end of their defense. Travis Frederick is a guy that fits the needs of the Cowboys, but taken at 31 was too high in my opinion for the value they traded away and even the spot they ended up in. The middle picks of Gavin Escobar and Terrance Williams make me scratch my head to see how they fit on the field for the Cowboys in the future. The lack of defensive tackle is still an issue heading into the final day of the Draft, so hopefully the Cowboys will land someone like Jesse WIlliams – Alabama, or Everett Dawkins – Florida State at some point on Saturday to bolster an otherwise disappointing 2013 NFL Draft.

So far in the 2013 NFL Draft the Dallas Cowboys front office has tried to mirror their team on the field. They make the right decision but bungle the execution. The way they have drafted so far is the equivalent of fumbling a snap on a game winning field goal. Fortunately for the Cowboys the ball has bounced back in their hands and hopefully their guys can reach the end zone instead of being stopped short of the goal line, but don’t be surprised if as is always the case, the Cowboys finish short of the line to gain… Does this image bring back any memories to us Cowboys fans???

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  • Bigfoot4002

    You can write an article based on mike mayo is projections but if you don’t look closer you just look stupid. Why would Dallas get Reid.. We don’t need another in the box safety we needed a rangy ball hawking safety. And if you move Fredrick to guard and bernadeau to center we just got a lot bigger in the middle and can still cut free and sign free agent after June 1st.

  • rashad

    this story is totally insane on all angles even drafting the highest rated center in the draft it filled a need the biggest actually. I was no fan of the pick but looking at it from the franchise qb stand point your getting a biggg body center and a explosive target for romo with the addition of the reciever in the third. which also help mile austin because it move him back to the slot which ultimately helps the defense because of the mismatches their pass catchers will create, ie… dez wit miles hana and the new te. this may not be glamore picks but these are safe picks

  • Ronald W. Jones

    I didn’t like the Frederick pick either. We passed on Reed and Elam for Frederick? Plus Frederick only made 21 reps (225lbs) when you’ve got safetys with 28 reps. As far as the TE Escobar is concerned, I suppose we are going to use more double TE formations like we tried to do with Martellus Bennett. Terrance Williams was highly productive at Baylor who will be solid for us and will push Miles Austin. BUT….I understand he didn’t fill a need. J.J. Wilcox! Finally a safety! But he played his first 3 years of college on offense before switching over. So not much experience. But he did impress scouts at the Senior Bowl. B.W. Webb CB…got good value here. Good athlete with natural cover skills…also impressed at the Senior Bowl. Joseph Randall RB. We do need a back up for Murray. Powerful downhill runner, good hands and will block.
    Looks like we are going to have to sign a boat load of undrafted free agent lineman, both offensive and defensive.

    • disqus_kLJwdEdnOL

      It always amazes me when fans point out how good Dallas has drafted. They apparently don’t see what was wrong with trading down, getting almost nothing for the trade and then drafting a player in the first round that most likely could have been drafted in the second round. I guess they must think that this year’s draft will turn out to be great but I would bet 2 to 1 that it will turn out to be like most of the drafts in the last 15 years. The fact is they just didn’t get the best players available, Can you say 7 and 9?

      • http://www.silverandbluecrew.com/ Stacy Justice

        I don’t know if I agree with you Gene. The Center position was a huge need for the Cowboys and they got the top rated Center in the draft. Took him in the first because they didn’t want to risk losing him (especially since they had him rated high in the second). I’m assuming Dallas didn’t care where Kiper and Mayock had him on their boards.

        Plus, everyone keeps bringing up this trade. Two things you got to remember, you have to have someone willing to trade. From what I’ve heard, they only received interest from 2 teams and went with the 9ers because of the early pick in the 3rd than what was being offered from the other team. Now the other team was offering a 7th rounder, but the Cowboys were able to sign the guy they’d drafted then as an UDFA.

  • ghostofakid

    Jerry Jones drafts are crap and have been since JJ left. Just look at the last 15 years. Why would you expect him to do anything different?

  • http://twitter.com/OldFrog75 Old Frog

    I was OK with the Frederick trade and selection because I was certain we would pick up at least one other O-lineman like Warford at 47 or Armstead or Thomas at 74. Instead it was one and done for the O-line. Can’t imagine what they are thinking unless they expect Leary to come on strong or they move Free to OG and sign an OT in FA. Really disappointed.

    • Eazy

      Jerry made a comment in one of the press conferences that gives the implication they will be signing a tackle in free agency. “If you plug in Frederick and maybe somebody else we can run the ball better.” Obviously this is pure speculation, but based upon how the Cowboys have been linked with Clabo and Winston it seems likely.

      • http://www.silverandbluecrew.com/ Stacy Justice

        The Boys really seem to be leaning toward Clabo. Hearing Winston may be in talks with the Dolphins now. He might get expensive fast.

  • MillaRed

    Wow. Just all over the boys who did the right thing and drafted best available instead of need. Cant win with you writers. Starting guard. Building TEs for the future. And Wilcox is the pick they got in the trade get your facts straight. This was not a horrible draft. Dont get so dramatic you are not making sense.

  • Eazy

    Honestly, I am so sick of all this pontificating on how the Cowboys screwed up the draft. You like the idea of trading back, but hate the compensation. Would you feel better if we got Williams as a 2nd instead of a 3rd? It is irrelevant where a player is drafted, what matters is what you get in return. Williams and Frederick for Elam, Reid or whoever else you would have liked them to select is pretty good compensation. Surely I would have loved to have taken Frederick in the 2nd and selected Elam at the tail end of the 1st. The Cowboys were unwilling to risk selecting a starting quality lineman. That is understandable. Honestly, this draft would be pure shit if we couldn’t get somebody who could start on the o line.

    Following the 1st and 2nd rounds, the Cowboys did an excellent job getting value for their picks and additionally adding depth. Williams is an insurance policy for Austin, and will be given every opportunity to make him expendable in the future.Similarly, Webb will do the same for Scandrick. JJ Wilcox adds depth to the safety position. He is an extremely talent player, a bit raw unfortunately. If Matt Johnson turns out to be a bad pick, the Cowboys may regret taking such a inexperienced player at this position. However, if Johnson turns out be a serviceable player this pick could truly benefit the team. Randle will step in and be better than Felix as our backup and will do a serviceable job filling in if Murray is injured. Holloman will provide added depth to our lber core, which was painfully apparent with the rash of injuries last season.

    What the Cowboys ended up getting in the draft was:
    A starting Center/Guard
    A TE who will allow the Cowboys to send 2 TE’s in routes far more often (a luxury pick)
    A 3rd WR who can step in for Austin and hopefully replace him in 2-3 years
    An additionally slot CB who can step in for Scandrick and replace him in 2-3 years. Webb can also aid the return game
    Added depth to our safety position and a player who can aid the return game (a project however)
    A back up RB who can step in if Murray is injured
    Depth to the Lber core.

    It isn’t really that bad, get over it.

    • Pack23Life

      the Cowboys screwed up, theres a NFL website or sum that says what you should get for trading down an for moving down 13 spots in the 1st round the Boys should of gotten a 2nd round pick, stephen jones said Reid was too rich at 18 but yet the 9ers who just went to the SB drafted him an Elam was taken by the Ravens who won the SB at 32 the Cowboys seriously missed out on some great players. They could of drafted a RB but the Packers got lacy in the 2nd after the cowboys picked an Franklin in the 4th. The pick of Escobar doesnt make sense either. They ignored needs even when they could of gotten a great player who fits a need ya cant go wrong there, but purposely drafting players who dont fit your need to avoid drafting by need is dumb. Jason Garrett recently said teams who draft by need make themselves worse, im not disagreeing but when you can get a player who is 1 of the best at his position in college football an he fits a need thats an ideal draft pick

      • Eazy

        They didn’t ignore needs. They clearly addressed several as I mentioned. I’m not even sure what your point is aside from “look! other teams drafted these players, how come we didn’t draft them too!” The vast majority of the players drafted fit a need. They drafted a RB, how you could miss that is beyond me. You wanted a safety, they got one. O-line was THE BIGGEST NEED! They decided to address that at the end of the first round instead of risking losing out on a quality starter. End of story. If this team didn’t find some O-line help, Romo doesn’t make it through the season. You can certainly knock where Frederick was taken and the necessity of adding another weapon for Romo in Escobar. But honestly, they did a great job finding talent in the draft this year.

        • Pack23Life

          they took the slowest center who was a 3rd an 4th round projection i woulda preferred Barrett Jones from Alabama, an wow 1 o-linemen to add to a horrible line all the way around should of grabbed more then 1 linemen they more or less panicked. JJ Wilcox is not better than Reid, Cyprian, or Elam. Stephen Jones said Reid was “too rich” at 18 but the 9ers took him w/ the 18th pick plus the 9ers got away w/ murder giving them a 3rd round pick instead of a 2nd. As far as need they did kinda shy away from it Ratliff is just about done but yet no DT was drafted but yet they draft a TE when they just drafted Hanna last year guess he’s been forgotten about. From what I’ve seen an heard nobody is applauding the Cowboys for their amazing draft its mostly the exact opposite, they got decent talent but they could’ve gotten much better talent

    • http://www.silverandbluecrew.com/ Stacy Justice

      I agree with you. Do have to add one thing regarding Wilcox. He seems to be a natural to the position. Project, yes but maybe not that big of a project (we hope).