Now that we’re one week removed from the 2013 NFL Draft and all the critics and analysts have had their say let’s take a step back and look at two players that could make an impact this season. Judging from how divided fans and analysts are concerning this year’s draft class, some of you will agree, disagree, or be entirely indifferent to this analysis. The main thing to keep in mind is we can grade this year’s class till it’s been beaten to death, but they still have to play before anyone can claim they’re right.
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
By far the most scrutinized pick in this year’s class, Travis Frederick is going to have to come in and be an instant contributor or everyone is going to get worked up into a frothy stupor. That may be warranted considering he was taken at the end of the first round when, according to everyone in the world, he would be available in the second or third round. Well I hate to tell you this people, but no one is psychic and he could have gone in the second round before the Cowboys got a chance to get their card in on him. With that said, here’s why Frederick will boost a sorry excuse for an offensive line that currently resides on Dallas’ roster (minus Tyron Smith of course).
Frederick is a smart guy, which is needed when players make the move from college to the pros. A guy can have all the physical traits in the world, but if he can’t figure out what he has to do when he get’s on the field, there’s not a muscle on top of a muscle that can help him.
To go along with the smarts, Frederick is built to play the position. He has a strong base needed to bully people on the interior of the line. But even more important than the build, Frederick has the mentality of a finisher and that is what’s needed on the offensive line. After watching tape and reading scouting reports on Frederick, one thing stands out – he loves to get a hold of his man and block him into submission. That’s the kind of tone-setter the Cowboys’ offensive line needs. Maybe the others will see this rookie come in and blow people up and that will set a fire under the rest of them. We need that passion in the trenches, and I think Frederick will give us that.
November 17, 2012; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs wide receiver Rantavious Wooten (17) runs with the ball against Georgia Southern Eagles safety JJ Wilcox (19) during the first quarter at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
When you think of “nasty” in NFL terms, you think of a player that puts fear in the hearts of their opponents with earth-shaking hits. That is one of the many skills JJ Wilcox brings to the table.
Everyone in Cowboy Nation knows Wilcox’s story regarding the many different positions he played in college as well as his lone year at the safety position. This is seen by some as a knock, but there is huge upside here. Think about it, if he had played safety for more than one year would he have been around in the third round? I argue he wouldn’t have been considering his ability to play anywhere on the field and play well.
To go along with the ability to knock receivers around in the secondary, Wilcox does have some coverage ability. If you watch some of the highlights from the senior bowl you’ll see Wilcox lined up as a single-high safety, which is where he would be playing in defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin’s Tampa-2 defense. He showed the ability to handle the position, and with time he could be a real asset in the secondary. Pretty good for a guy who’s only played safety for a year.
Finally I want to preach to you, Cowboys Nation, the need for patience. I too was a little shocked by the Cowboys’ first two selections in this year’s draft, but as I saw what these guys do well, I started to get excited at the idea of having them in the fold. Time will tell if they are studs or duds, but until then I suggest we give them the support they need as they make this transition and let’s get pumped for the return of football.