Dec 16, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) hands off the ball to running back DeMarco Murray (29) against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 Draft for the Dallas Cowboys Had a Clear Goal


As an NFL draft junkie and a football fan, far too often we focus on each player drafted instead of the final product of a team’s draft. The 2013 draft class for the Dallas Cowboys provided clarity for a team that lacked an identity the last few years. What do I mean by clarity? Let’s look at back a year to see what their plan was going into the 2012 off-season.

In 2012, the team decided that a major influx of talent was needed on the defensive side of the ball, particularly in the secondary. In addition to adding cornerback Brandon Carr in free agency, the team traded up in the first round to draft cornerback Morris Claiborne. They also added versatile defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford in the third round, defensive end Kyle Wilbur, safety Matt Johnson and linebacker Caleb McSurdy to round out the draft. The team hopes that Carr, Claiborne, Crawford, and Johnson will be building blocks for their defense in the future.

Brandon Carr is just one of the many players Dallas added in 2012 to help solidify the defense.                                        Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys’ 2013 draft was all about rebuilding the offense and giving Tony Romo help. And you can say what you want about the team finishing 6th in passing offense and how the Cowboys should have retooled their 31st ranked defense instead their offense, but here are the facts:

-The Dallas Cowboys did not score in the first quarter in nine different games in 2012. 

- They averaged only two points a game in the first quarter. 

- And what is even more discouraging is that in their eight home games, they’ve led and had the ball for a total of only 36:36 and 18 of those minutes came against Tampa Bay in their first home game.

- This means that the Cowboys only led for about 18 minutes in their final seven home games when they had possession of the ball. Incredible.

Whether or not the slow starts can be attributed to a bad game plan by Jason Garrett or the lack of a running game, the fact of the matter is, the Dallas Cowboys desperately needed to upgrade their offense.

So with their first round pick, the Cowboys decided that they needed to protect Tony Romo. And whether you like it or not, and if the Dallas Cowboys want to compete for a Super Bowl anytime soon, it’s going to be on the back of Tony Romo and his offense.

And when I say “his” offense, I mean it. Tony Romo this year will be asked to do far more than he ever has since he became the full time starter in 2007. Tony will be responsible for more of the week-to-week game plan and will have more input as to what Dallas decides to do on offense come game day.

As everyone knows by now, Dallas shocked the NFL draft community when they traded back in the first round to select Wisconsin center Travis Frederick. The Cowboys were criticized and ridiculed  by ESPN’s Mel Kiper and NFL Network’s Mike Mayock for the “so-called” reach of Frederick. Both draft analysts gave Frederick a third round grade and questioned Dallas’ selection with the 31st overall pick.

And after a week of reading about how terrible the Cowboys selection of Frederick was, I am here to tell you one honest truth. On September 8th, 2013 when the Cowboys open up the season against the New York Giants, it isn’t going to make any difference whether the Cowboys selected Travis Frederick with the 31st pick or the 255th pick in the draft. All that will matter is if Frederick can block Justin Tuck and the rest of the Giants defensive line. And if he can, there is nothing you say that will convince me he wasn’t worth the first round selection.

I went back a few years to find other offensive line reaches according to Mel Kiper and other draft “experts” to show just how meaningless their opinions often are. The scouting report below provided by Sports Illustrated is very similar to some reports out there about Dallas’ Travis Frederick. Can you guess who this report is about?

“Technically sound, displays solid footwork sliding laterally and effective with his hands. Mentally on top of his game and works well with teammates. Displays the ability to block in motion and effectively uses body positioning to wall defenders from the action. A hard-working player who plays with great intelligence. Has been very productive on the college level.”

PROJECTION: Mid Third Round

Can Dallas Cowboys’ Travis Frederick surprise the league like  Logan Mankins did?                                 Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

This player was drafted at the end of round one in 2005 and when drafted, it was considered a major reach by most draft analysts. Any guess to who this player is? This was a scouting report of New England’s All Pro offensive lineman Logan Mankins.

Now, I’m not saying Travis Frederick will become Logan Mankins, but wouldn’t you agree that Mankins was certainly better than his projection? I would say yes everyday and twice on Sunday.

Dallas then shocked everyone again by selecting tight end Gavin Escobar from San Diego State with the 47th overall pick. And to be honest, this pick confused me up until a few days ago. I wrote an article a few weeks ago about how I thought James Hanna could be the Cowboys’ version of Aaron Hernandez in New England.  And Gavin Escobar isn’t nearly as athletic as either of those two players. He also isn’t Jason Witten, so where does he fit in?

I decided to compare some tight ends in the NFL today to see where Escobar compares physically:

Name

Height

Weight

Arms

TDs in 2012

Gavin Escobar

6’6

254

33 5/8″

N/A

Jimmy Graham

6’6

260

35″

9

Kyle Rudolph

6’6

259

34″

9

Rob Gronkowski

6’6

264

34″

11

With so many teams using smaller, quicker defensive players, huge tight ends are becoming ever more popular particularly in the red zone.

Escobar lacks elite speed and athleticism, but his size and incredible hands make for an easy target for Tony Romo. Dallas finished 20th in the league in red zone efficiency in 2012 and the selection of Escobar is possibly the answer for the red zone woes.

The Cowboys then used their third round selection on wide receiver Terrence Williams from Baylor. Last week I wrote about how I believe the Cowboys stole Williams in the third round.

And finally with their 5th round selection, the Dallas Cowboys selected running back Joseph Randle from Oklahoma State. Randle isn’t a special runner, but he does remind many, including myself of DeMarco Murray. The Cowboys finished 31st in the league in rushing offense last year and some of that was due to Murray’s inability to stay healthy.

Rebuilding the offense was clearly the goal that Jerry Jones and head coach Jason Garrett had in mind and it actually makes sense. When you have a franchise quarterback you have to strike while the iron is hot.

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  • Ronald W. Jones

    Frederick may not be strong enough to handle Tuck, he only had 21 reps (225 lbs) at the combine. A Wisconsin lineman with only 21 reps? What’s wrong with that? There are safeties with 28 reps.

    • Marcus

      He has extremely long arms. His HC at Wisconsin said he was the strongest player he has ever coached. That is saying something.

  • ctcowboy1968

    I hear you Ronald. When I read about the 21 reps, I was quite disappointed. But I also read that the Wisconsin coaches had to tell him numerous times to take it easy in practice because he was breaking people’s bones. Let’s hope he brings that nastiness and power to the Cowboy’s games.