Like most of you, I was upset with the Cowboys moves in the first round. According to the TVC, they lost 80 points in the trade. They passed on players such as Eric Reid, Shariff Floyd, and Sylvester Williams who we all thought would be good picks at 18. However, with a night to sleep on the First Round, I do not think it is as bad as it seems.
I will preface this article with an assumption that I am working under:
The Cowboys wanted to come out of the First Round with an OL (preferably an Interior one) to protect Romo.
Any casual fan knows that the Cowboys Offensive Line was a source of problems for this team and we have been begging all off-season for changes to be made, whether in the form of drafting Jonathan Cooper, signing Eric Winston or whatever other moves we preferred. Clearly, the Front Office saw it in a similar light, they knew that the Offensive Line needed to be improved and they wanted to do so through the Draft.
6 OL went in the first 11 picks. This is unprecedented and something that we knew was possible. Cooper, the one that we coveted, went 7th overall. I can tell you right now that even as much as I wanted Cooper, I would have been livid if the Cowboys gave their first and second round picks and moved up to pick Cooper, Warmack or Fluker. That would have been a much worse decision then moving down and taking Frederick. This is a team that has some holes in the starting lineup and certainly needs depth and moving up and sacrificing 2 top 50 picks would not have been the right decision.
Once those players were off the board, the Cowboys had a decision, they could draft another position and wait for an OL in the 2nd round, reach for someone at 18 or trade down later into the round and pick an OL then. Operating under the assumption that they wanted an OL before Thursday night ended I am happy with the result. Imagine if they had stayed at 18 and picked Pugh or Long, we would have been outraged, yet people call Pugh a classic Giants pick and do not lambast them.
If Pugh, Long and Frederick are equally rated on the Cowboys board (which they probably are close to that), then the trade down was a great idea. They got an equivalent player to who they would have taken at 18 and picked up the 74th pick which in a draft such as this where there is a block of 60 or so players that have 2nd round grades on them is a great move. If I had the choice between Pugh/Long or Frederick and someone like Markus Wheaton or DJ Swearanger or Akeem Spence; I would certainly take the latter.
People will point to other players that were on the board at 31 that would make sense at OL like Menelik Watson, Terron Armstead or Larry Warford. I believe that interior OL was a more important position to draft then an OT. For all we know, the Cowboys could sign Clabo or Winston today because they didn't come out of the 1st round with a OT (Fluker). Clearly, they had Frederick rated higher than Warford as well so I have to have some faith in a board and system that over the last 3 years has drafted: Smith, Lee, Carter, Bryant, Claiborne, Murray.
Also while people question the Cowboys DL, I see it as a strength of the team. Ware and Spencer are starting DEs and Hatcher and Ratliff at DT. Crawford seems to have the versatility to play DT or DE. Lissemore will be a solid DT backup. Bass seems to be able to play DE. And there are a ton of 4-3 DL on the Board still: Short, Spence, Jordan Hill, Tank, and the list goes on that could be picks from the 2nd-4th round. The OL were not going to be there later.
Operating under the conditions of what happened last night with a historic run on OL in the 1st round, I cannot be upset right now that the Cowboys came out with a starting center and an extra high 3rd round pick. Only time will tell whether Frederick is good (high picked Wisconsin OL have been good) and whether the trade was worth it.
I only hope that Bill Polian's analysis of Frederick is right that he is the "prototypical Bill Callahan lineman"