Ok, so I know most of you are wondering what the Cowboys were up to when they drafted Travis Frederick with the 31st pick overall in the NFL Draft. I’ll give you my opinion on the pick later. This post is mostly about taking you into the war room so you can have a feel for what the plan was.
1. 6 Picks in the 2013 Draft
Dallas had 6 picks coming into the 2013 Draft. Dallas’ first pick was the 18th pick overall. By the time Dallas was on the clock, Kenny Vaccaro (S), Chance Warmack (G), D.J. Flucker (T) and Sheldon Richardson (DT) were all gone. The Cowboys were probably trying to move up to get Vaccaro, Warmack or Fluker, and hoping Richardson was available at 18. The Cowboys could use help in at a lot of areas but none more than the offense line. So what do you do when the players you want are gone and the other players on your draft board can be picked up later? You trade down to get an extra pick in a later round. The Cowboys traded the No. 18 pick to San Francisco (they came into the draft with 14 picks). Dallas picked up an extra third round pick. Whether you like the move or not, the more draft picks you have, the better your chance to find a late round gem. This is why they traded away the No. 18 pick and this wasn’t a bad move at all.
2. Biggest Needs
We can argue all day whether the Cowboys’ biggest need is offensive line, defensive line or safety. The Cowboys’ defense was in the bottom half of the league in sacks and rushing yards allowed. The offense was second to last in rushing yards. Dallas had the worst interior line play of any team in the NFL. They started six different centers in 2012. That’s probably why Dallas decided to address the O-line first. This is also a safety rich draft so there will be some value in later rounds.
3. Who They Picked
Travis Frederick was the number one ranked center going into the NFL combine. His performance at the combine was pretty bad and included a terrible forty time. Frederick wont be returning punts and forty speed isn’t reflective of his talent so who cares how fast he runs? Why did they pick him? The number one reason is that he’s a beast of a run blocker. He anchored an O-line that averaged 236 rushing yards per game last season at Wisconsin. While many draft boards had Frederick going in the second round and some had him going as late as round three, with all the teams looking for offensive linemen (Dolphins, Lions, Browns, Rams, Falcons, Bills, Panthers…) it’s unlikely Frederick would have been available later.
1a on the list of reasons to draft him is because he’s smart. When I say smart, I mean that he’s really smart! He was Academic All-Big 10 in 2012. He also scored a 34 on the Wonderlic intelligence test. One scout said he might be the “smartest guy in the draft.” Why is that important for a guy who plays down in the trenches? At center, Frederick will be calling out protection schemes, protection audibles, and reading defensive blitz schemes. While he may start out at guard in 2013, he is a definite improvement over Phil Costa.
There’s one more reason they made this pick. Of the 51 linemen taken in the last ten years of the NFL Draft, only 14 have made it to the Pro Bowl. Why does this matter? It matters because there is a big chance you’re going to miss! When drafting a lineman in the first round, what you’re looking for is a guy who is ready to play. Wisconsin is known for producing NFL ready linemen. Since 2001, just about every lineman drafted from Wisconsin in an early round has started at least 10 games. Most have started hundreds of games over that time. A big reason Dallas made this pick is because Frederick is going to play now. He is NFL ready and that’s what you want out of an early round draft pick. There’s no such thing as a sure thing but Frederick should be able to contribute from day one.
We will probably argue all day about whether this was the best pick at 31 and whether Dallas left some value on the board. At least now you know what they were thinking when they made their pick. What do you think about the pick and what do you think Dallas should do with their remaining picks?