Sep 8, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys center Travis Frederick (72) blocks against the New York Giants at AT

Frederick’s Play Suggests Cowboys Didn’t Reach In First Round


Watching center Travis Frederick maul through two defenders and push fellow rookie Joseph Randle into the endzone for the game-sealing score in the Dallas Cowboys’ 31-16 victory Sunday night, it’s time to rethink the conventional wisdom that says Frederick was a “reach” in the first round.

Aug 29, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys center Travis Frederick (70) on the sidelines during the second half against the Houston Texans at AT

Frederick has been a key upgrade in an interior offensive line that was completely remade this offseason. He is the centerpiece of a unit that one short year ago was an extreme liability, and today is emerging as a team strength.

For what it’s worth, Pro Football Focus has Frederick as the top-rated run-blocking center in the NFL this season, and the seventh-highest rated overall. Practically, he has done what first-round draft picks are expected to do – start and contribute at a high level as a rookie.

So we don’t have to guess anymore; Frederick’s play proves he was a first-round talent, regardless of what Mel Kiper Jr. might tell us about his draft grade.

No really one disputes this anymore, but many continue to make the argument that the Cowboys could have picked up the excellent rookie with a later pick. This needs to be addressed, because it’s extremely self-serving and lazy analysis that is based on almost no real data whatsoever.

Assume for the moment that most teams had a lower draft grade on Frederick – no one knows for sure, and it’s impossible to prove without dissecting all 32 draft boards, which aren’t open to public scrutiny. But let’s assume the unsubstantiated assertion is true, and most teams had a high-second, low-third round grade on Frederick.

In practice, it doesn’t matter if 30 other teams thought the Wisconsin center was a total bum. All it takes is one NFL GM to see what the Cowboys saw in Frederick – what in retrospect should have been clear to any professional talent evaluator. If Jerry passed on Frederick and just one other GM saw what now seems obvious, then Phil Costa is the Dallas starting center in 2013, and Tony Romo’s still running for his life at every snap.

Given the team’s dire need at the position, if Jerry Jones had reason to suspect even one other team was high on Frederick, he had a duty to the franchise to pick him up with the 31st pick.

But since Frederick has proved on the field so far that he’s a legitimate first-round talent, it seems unlikely that Jerry is the only NFL GM of 32 who believed Frederick could be this good.

We’ll never have the draft board data to prove what every other GM thought of Frederick, so we have to ask ourselves what’s more likely: That no other GM in the league could see Frederick’s now-obvious potential, and Jerry is just that much smarter than all his peers; or that other GMs had interest, so Jerry made the safe play in drafting Frederick at 31st overall.

Aug 24, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) signals with center Travis Frederick (70) in the second quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at AT

You can’t have it both ways. If Jerry “reached” for Frederick, it’s because no other NFL GM saw his potential. This reflects well on Jerry as a talent evaluator – he saw something no one else did.

But the TV experts want us to accept the competing notions that Jerry reached for Frederick AND he’s a poor talent evaluator. The problem is, Frederick’s play on the field is proving they can’t both be true. If you think the Cowboys reached for Frederick, then clean reasoning dictates you must also blow up your entire world view, and credit Jerry for seeing what no other NFL GM did.

Or you can come around to the more reasonable notion that the TV draft experts were wrong, other NFL teams actually did have late-first, early-second round interest in Frederick, and Jerry was justified in scooping up the future anchor of his offensive line instead of risking he’d last to pick 47.

We can’t prove anything without seeing all 32 draft boards, and that’s not gonna happen. So it comes down to one of two scenarios: The “reached” scenario asks us to believe that Jerry is a better talent evaluator than every other GM in the league; the alternative scenario suggests the draft experts in the media missed something.

Which scenario seems more plausible to you?

Tags: Dallas Cowboys Featured Popular Travis Frederick

  • Juanito Juanito

    mr. bankston, mr jones good evaluator are you dope ? frederick selection was for garret, and the rest of draft, just the escobar selection was a jones pick thats why garret look upset, you can see the drafts were jerry select players and you can found the truth dont be a dumb

    • Yo Yo Yo

      And you know this because you’re inside the Cowboys Draft War Room? Sure if you say so buddy. You are as clueless as any fan wanna be GM. The last 4 drafts by the Cowboys have actually been pretty good, so kudos to Jerrah and the organization.

  • Babymaker07

    I actually do believe he was still a “reach” but I also believe that in this last draft there was really only about 20-25 real first round picks. Regardless Frederick has been playing like what most 1st round centers do, and that is playing exceptional football. Centers picked at the end of the 1st round or top of 2nd round have a very high success rate compared to most other picks.

    • Wasnt Mee

      He was the highest graded center in a draft with few centers so I don’t think it was a reach myself. We had to upgrade a center and centers from Wisconsin are big, tough and smart. Smart enough to help a runner into the end zone. Just a lineman not on the ground there was amazing for me. Free was the last line man making high light blocks near the end zone. Don’t think he would have been there in the second and couldn’t take the chance. Escobar now is a reach for sure. Maybe he comes on stronger later.

  • Babymaker07

    Now that I think about it I think the Cowboys would have better capitalize on their draft if they had gotten Le’Von Bell in the 2nd instead of Gavin Escobar. Would have been a better nice 1-2 punch for our RB than what we have now, plus he was a really good all around weapon at Michigan State. Unlike Gavin Escobar will only get better at blocking when he finally gets a full training camp next season.

  • David Kerr

    I thought if they wanted to go Frederick and a tight end, they should’ve went for Eifert with the first pick and then as everyone speculates, Frederick with the second

  • jrcowboy49

    We couls have drafted safety Eric Reid in the 1st round and got Frederick in the 2nd or 3rd round. Look how Reid has made SF look great in that trade!

  • ghostofakid

    Given his history, the only plausible explanation for a Jerry Jones’ first round pick working out, is pure luck.