As the NFL Draft unfolded this past weekend, fans of each NFL team undoubtedly had their emotions on a roller coaster ride throughout. There was no exception of this in Dallas where the team’s moves had fans very up and down. All in all, when looking at the entire body of work at the conclusion of the weekend I liked what the Cowboys did for the most part. This is even truer when you consider the team entered the draft with just six selections.
When Shariff Floyd was slipping to the team in the first round it looked like it was going to be a beautiful thing. However, the team’s brain trust decided it was in their best interest to pass on the DT, and slide back and pick up an extra 3rd rounder. While grabbing the extra third round pick was important, I’m still in disbelief that the Cowboys went away from their draft board and did not select Floyd. Floyd was rated by many as a top 5 or 10 player in this draft, and to not grab this guy hurts the overall talent level of this team. Just imagining him playing with Ware, Ratliff, and Spencer on the defensive line gives me thoughts of “what could have been”. Cowboy fans will watch Floyd’s career closely, just as fans have with Randy Moss and Steven Jackson once these players dropped to the Cowboys and were passed over just as Floyd was.
The selection of Travis Frederick at 31st overall in Round 1 caused the team to take a lot of heat from the general public. Most draft experts had given him 3rd round grades or later, however, the team had him much higher on their board. While he might have been available at pick 47, he also might not have been. It seems as if the team decided to go offensive line in Round 1, and got the player they wanted after all the linemen with first round grades were gone. The New England Patriots took much heat when they selected Logan Mankins much earlier than expected in 2005, and he has been a great piece on their line for the past eight seasons. Frederick has a fantastic pedigree coming from Wisconsin. Wisconsin is as synonymous with offensive line players as Penn State is with linebackers, and Miami is with defensive backs.
The selections that I most disliked and disagreed with was the Round 2 selection of Gavin Escobar. He may have great potential as a pass catching tight end, to help move the chains, and be effective in the red zone. However, Cowboy fans have been misled about using a second tight end to play with Witten in the past and basically wasted two 2nd round picks in the process. In 2006, the team selected Anthony Fasano in Round 2, and then proceeded to choose Martellus Bennett in Round 2 in the 2008 draft. Both tight ends were never used properly due to very unimaginative play calling and subpar offensive execution. Both tight ends left the team and had much better success playing for other teams as their talents have been used properly since leaving Dallas. Cowboy fans should hope this changes as Escobar “could” be a weapon if used properly, but based on the past I have my doubts.
Some notable players the team left on the board when Escobar was selected included the following:
Jonathan Hankins DT Ohio State 49th
Margus Hunt DE SMU 53rd
Larry Warford OG Kentucky 65th
Bennie Logan DT LSU 67th
While the first two rounds could have been looked at as questionable, I liked what the team did with the balance of their selections. Terrance Williams at #74 has a chance to come in and play opposite Dez Bryant on the outside. This will keep Miles Austin and Dwayne Harris in the slot and create more competition for the last few receiver spots. Lastly, if Austin’s injury problems keep persisting in the 2013 season, Williams’s presence on the roster will allow the team to release Austin next spring.
J.J. Wilcox (#80) and B.W. Webb (#114) will both come in and contribute on special teams right away. Wilcox is new to the safety position, but with the overall experience of the safeties on this roster, could compete for a starting position right away. Webb will be the 4th corner on the roster, and could be ready to replace Scandrick in a year or two when his cap number is too high for this team.
Joesph Randle gives the Cowboys a “do-it-all” back that can both run and catch out of the backfield. He will rotate in to keep Murray fresh, and once Murray goes down (because we all know he will); Randle hopefully can keep the rushing attack going in Murray’s absence. DeVonte Holloman will be brought in for depth as a special teamer, but will have to make this team during training camp and preseason to make the final roster.
In review and when looking at this draft class as a whole, I’ve come away pleased by what the team was able to do. While the selections made in rounds 1 & 2 leave the team open to second guessing, this class looks like it could be one of the more productive classes in the last ten years for the team (which isn’t saying much). The team addressed needs, but addressed the needs by getting good value at the spots these players were taken. If Frederick can be an eight to ten year starter on the offensive line and Escobar is used to the fullest, then this class will look even better.
Follow Craig Cortemeglia on Twitter at @ccortemegliaTLH