After a few hours to reflect on the Dallas Cowboys' trade down in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft and subsequent selection of Wisconsin C/G Travis Frederick - and, admittedly, a few more hours of sleep - I am feeling a little more calm about the way things played out. I haven't exactly fallen in love with the pick, but I am open to a friends with benefits situation. And I hope seeing him on the field will engender some deeper feelings of attachment.
It seems a strange development, but the whole first round was strange. We have already heard about how Dallas had sixteen players with a first round grade, and we now know, for whatever reason, that Sharrif Floyd was either not in that group, or was not seen as worthy of the eighteenth pick. We have heard as well about how the entire league saw this draft as shallow in first round talent but very deep in second and third round quality players. Now we can look at the actual players taken, and realize that Dallas picked a lousy year to be looking for offensive line help with their pick at 18. And one of the things that did come out of the first day of the draft is that the Cowboys have decided they have to get better on the offensive line. That is one very positive sign for almost all of us.
I have made a chart of what the Cowboys were looking at during the first round, both with the original pick at 18 and the pick acquired from the San Francisco 49ers at 31. I haven't tried to go back and look up past player distributions, but I think this is a rather unique first round in NFL history.
I believe this is the most offensive line heavy first round in history, and it is not even close. Consider that when Dallas went on the clock at 18, 7 of the 17 players taken already were tackles or guards. That is 41% of the draft so far. I am reasonably sure at this point that the draft was well into second round grades for O line on Dallas' board. With Kenny Vaccaro and Sheldon Richardson off the board, it also appears that the team's defensive options were closed out as well. This triggered the trade, and in that light, it makes sense. The only question here is what players were the Cowboys interested in getting with the lower position? If, perhaps, Sylvester Williams was an option, then they obviously dropped too far. But if they were already targeting Frederick at the time they traded back, then this was a good spot to be in.
But I cannot get over how odd that first round went. One quarterback. No running backs. Defensive tackle the second most popular pick. No inside linebackers. (I wonder how things would have played out if Manti Te'o had been a little more discreet or discerning with his personal life?)
This was a very strange round, and Dallas got dealt a pretty crappy hand with their pick at 18. They may have been largely painted into a corner without the resources to engineer a trade up, and even then it would probably have been unwise because of the cost to move up high enough to get what they really needed (Jonathan Cooper at 7 is the one player that really would make sense in my eyes). If Travis Frederick was really as high on the draft board as the team claims, then this may be about as good an outcome as they could manage, at least as far as who they acquired.