Austin On Dallas: Cowboys' Trading 18th Pick Provides Solid Upgrades

Not many football enthusiasts across the nation will blame Dallas Cowboys fans for their elevated backlash towards General Manager Jerry Jones after his latest brain cramp of a draft. Increasing comparisons to an aging, incompetent version of Al Davis are not becoming a reality, the progression has moved far beyond the “becoming” stage.

Not to say the Cowboys’ overall draft class doesn’t possess very solid selections, even some worth much more value than their selected slot.  However, there is still one simple, overwhelming fact to consider here…this particular draft was by far one of the most difficult to blunder that I’ve ever witnessed.

By blunder I mean failing to secure strong value in most rounds.  No worthy GM should’ve struck out even once in the first 4 rounds with that many softballs lobbing by.

With a relative lack of dominating superstars headlining the field, the sheer volume of talented football players without much separation was mouth-watering.

The 2013 NFL Draft Class as a whole will provide very unusual, unique results for years to come in the league.  There should be an unprecedented amount of mid to late round selections who far outperform their higher valued counterparts.  This rings true even within Dallas’ seven selections.

During the draft and the immediate days following the negative emotions were blinding for Cowboys fans.  With good reason, most feel management incompetently passed over several high-level future NFL starters at positions of immediate need.

My personal stance in the storied debate on drafting for “need” or drafting “best available”??? When the talent level between available players is a hair or two of difference, always side with greater need.  Apparently Jerry and I don’t see eye-to-eye on that one.

However…

In specific regards to Dallas swapping out their 18th pick in exchange for the San Francisco 49ers’ 31st and 74th selection, a solid trade evaluation void of intense, knee-jerk emotion reveals solid value and an immediate talent upgrade.

Let’s not forget once draft picks hit the practice field, their draft location or draft-related connotations attached to them don’t make one shred of difference.  If you can play, you can play…if you can’t, you can’t…bottom line.  In football that’s all that matters, there’s no room for politics within winning championships.

 

31st PICK TRAVIS FREDERICK (C)  -AND-  74th PICK TERRANCE WILLIAMS (WR)

FINAL SELECTION GRADE:  B+

Yes, these two picks are combined together as one graded selection as both are a result from trading the 18th pick.  Neither would have been part of the Cowboys’ draft class without swapping their 18th selection for the pair.

The Cowboys likely forfeited selecting ONE superior player at DT or Safety, yet that overall notion is still subjective and debatable.  What I do know is the Cowboys received excellent player value in exchange with all things being considered.

TRAVIS FREDERICK (C) – WISCONSIN

I’ve been raising havoc in many articles for 2 years now over the Cowboys’ dire need to upgrade at center.  Constantly preaching how everything on the offensive line runs through the center and its paramount importance far outweighs that of a guard.  Dallas snagged the top rated center in the draft, so far be it from me to hypocritically bash the controversial move.

Even the assumed reaching above the player’s draft value is not enough to skew my final conclusion.  Travis Frederick was not a 3rd round talent like falsely assumed, and likely wouldn’t have made it to the Cowboy’s 74th selection in the 2nd round.

Dallas rightfully desired a valid upgrade at center, might not have had the opportunity to land their ideal center when their next pick came around, so they pulled the trigger.  No skin off my back.  If Frederick starts next year and solidly upgrades that spot, the benefits are certainly first-round worthy.

There’s been much talk about possible “F” grades during the uproar over the draft.  One guaranteed failing grade I’m certain of is the horrendous play of the Dallas Cowboys’ center position over the last 2 seasons.  If Dallas reached a tad bit high to rid themselves of that garbage play directly in front of Tony Romo…I’m all for it.

NFL Combine Results Fallacy…

As for Travis Frederick’s reported bad combine results, the smokey air certainly needs to be cleared on this one.  40-yard dash times mean almost zero in assessing the capability of offensive linemen.  I can’t recall the last time I’ve witnessed a center run past 20 yards on a given play.  The drill is almost pointless for these big beasts.

Moving on, Frederick did bench a questionable 21 reps of 225 pounds.  First-round pick and massive Alabama OT D.J. Fluker produced exactly the same output.  No one is questioning his ability to maul opponents with brute force.

Frederick’s vertical leap of 28.5 inches was highly impressive and outperformed Justin Pugh, Eric Fisher, Kyle Long, Jonathan Cooper, Larry Warford, and several others.

With 7.81 in the cone drills Frederick topped Cooper, Warford, Fisher, Pugh, Joeckel, Lane Johnson, and a host of other top linemen.

He again bested both Cooper and Warford in the 20-yard short-shuttle, which is a speed/quickness drill more suited to the skills of OL.

In summarizing the combine, Travis ran a horrendous 40-yard dash, and subsequently did quite well on several drills that are far more specific to the skills needed to play o-line.  The negative backlash over his combine results is nonsense when evaluated properly by position.

 

TERRANCE WILLIAMS (WR) – BAYLOR

I’m a huge fan of this selection, plain and simple.  The talent and NFL potential of this player far outshines the 3rd round slot he was selected in.  There were certainly many other solid players on the board which would have helped Dallas in areas of more immediate need, yet WR is still far from a complete work of art in Valley Ranch.

Miles Austin is rarely at full health and widely considered undependable.  Dez Bryant has missed substantial time as well with injuries.  Dwayne Harris, although beginning to blossom, is far from being a proven, solid 3rd option on a weekly basis.  And the 4th slot has yet to be definitively locked down by any one player.

Enter Terrance Williams.  As an avid Texas Longhorns fan who watches every single game and attends many, let me tell you who was the most feared opposing receiver before any contest this past season…Terrance Williams.

This kid can flat out produce in multiple ways.  He gets open with ease, finds voided spots in the secondary and sits down, stretches the field masterfully, has great hands, runs dangerously well after the catch, and locates the endzone on a regular basis.

Even with All Big-12 CB Quandre Diggs on the case, Longhorn fans knew Terrance Williams would be an unavoidable headache.  10 catches, 183 yards, 1 TD was the final damage.  In comparison, #1 WR draft pick Tavon Austin was limited to 10 catches, 102 yards, 1 TD.

In 2011 vs. Texas as a Junior…4 catches, 88 yards, 1 TD.  As a Sophomore, 3 catches, 77 yards, 1 TD.  That’s a combined career total vs. the Longhorns of 17 catches, 348 yards, 3 TDs.  The most impressive stat among that was 20.5 yards per catch average.

For the 2012 season, Williams led the country with 1,764 receiving yards.  He also posted the highest yards per catch average of any receiver with over 52 catches…18.57 yards per catch. In only one game against West Virginia he recorded 17 catches, 314 yards, and 2 TDs.

The draft’s first selected WR, Tavon Austin, produced 1,266 total receiving yards and an 11.61 ypc average.  Those numbers are simply child’s play compared to Terrance Williams. Like Austin, Williams also had a fellow WR teammate with substantial (957 yards) receiving targets to share with.

Both played in very similar wide-open college passing offenses and squared off against the same Big 12 pass defenses.  Unlike Tavon Austin, Terrance Williams did not have the luxury of a 2nd round draft pick QB (Geno Smith) feeding him the ball.

 

CONCLUSION 

All things considered over the entire draft, Jerry Jones has once again proven he’s the worst General Manager in all of football.  Unfortunately his lack of competent football savvy and outrageous ego will ultimately keep the Cowboys from considerable playoff success for a long while to come.

However, the final conclusion on the worth of the first-round trade with San Francisco does not fall under another of his many aloof backfires.  Travis Frederick is a smart, talented, committed center and will provide a huge boost to a treacherous, achilles heel center position in Dallas.

Cowboys fans will soon re-learn the massive importance of fielding a quality center with a clue how to capably guide an offensive line and connect with the QB.  Travis Frederick was the best option possible to finally correct the abysmal 2-year oversight of the center position.

As for Terrance Williams, the sky is the limit. Williams may very well be the best WR in the entire 2013 draft, and certainly has the dominant numbers to back that claim.

He undoubtedly carries a much higher pedigree and accomplished college past than all Cowboy’s WRs not named Bryant.

Look for Williams to be a big contributor right out of the gates and bolster the receiving corps to a new level of consistency not seen in Dallas for many years.  He (6’2, 205) and Dez (6’2, 220) paired are capable of wreaking havoc on an opposing defense.  Mix in a healthy Miles Austin and developing Dwayne Harris, the Cowboys possess a highly potent receiving threat, with excellent depth.

While the 2013 Cowboys’ draft class provides much support to substantiate Jerry Jones’ foolish inadequacies, these 2 players combined to equal the first-round selection were a supremely solid acquisition.  Both will make the 2013 Dallas Cowboys a much more formidable offensive force in areas where their presence will immediately be felt and appreciated.

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Tags: Dallas Cowboys NFL Draft Terrance Williams Travis Frederick

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