The first move the Dallas Cowboys made in the 2013 NFL Draft wasn't for a player. Instead, they opted for a trade that saw them move down to the bottom of the first in hopes of securing better value.
The logical pick for many fans at 18 appeared to be Eric Reid, the Safety drafted at that spot by San Francisco. According to Stephen Jones, Reid did not hold as much value, to the Cowboys, as the combination of the 31st and 74th picks. This might give us some insight into the Cowboys' draft process, but I'll hold off on that type of speculation until we see the final four rounds.
I will say that I had the same reaction as most Cowboys fans in hearing of the trade. Something like "Oh, a two and a three? Sounds good." And then moving onto "Just two third rounders?!" And finally "ONLY ONE THIRD ROUNDER?!" Of course, after the initial unhappiness, I simply looked forward to the new picks. It's really not something that I'll allow to ruin my mood for more than a few seconds. I may be confident in my intelligence - but not so much so that I believe I could out-draft any member of the Cowboys' war room trust.
Moving on to the actual picks, now...
Travis Frederick, G, Wisconsin: My first question was "Computer Engineer? What's that?" Of course, I'm a Game Design student, so I would be the one to worry about such things. I'm curious as to whether he's a Software Engineer or an Electrical Engineer.
Anyway, as for his football ability, and whatever else that might be interesting us, he seems to be a very solid player. The biggest concerns (and apparently the reason he was knocked into the second or third by many mockers) arose in the combine with his poor timed speed and low bench press repetition total. In an interview on 105.3 The Fan that was broadcast over the official War Room feed, he addressed these concerns, suggesting that his specific training regimen negatively influenced his performance in the 40 and on the bench press.
His explanation included that he's been training for over power rather than muscle endurance, hence his 600lb bench and 700lb squat. These two numbers are very impressive, and describe, to me, a man I would not want firing his arms into my chest. His 40 time was bad primarily because it isn't an important event for linemen, and he additionally explained that he had worked hard on his foot quickness rather than sprinting.
We can plan on the worst of Costa, Bernadeau and Livings being replaced by Frederick, who may end up being better than the lot of them. That constitutes a significant upgrade along the line, which we can all agree was in need at some point in this draft.
Gavin Escobar, TE, San Diego State: I remember some rumors circulating that the Cowboys were looking for a blocking tight end in the late rounds. This is definitely not that pick.
Escobar figures to be an incredible possession target in the red zone and on third downs. What he offers in addition to that is a substantial bit of wiggle for a tight end. His agility measurables were very good, despite his high 40 time.
Though we might not like to admit it, it has been very frustrating at times to watch Jason Witten and expect little to no gain after the catch. James Hanna offers breakaway speed, but Escobar offers something different. He can make the tough grab five yards downfield, and then he can wiggle his way around the field for ten more yards. That consistent threat to gain additional yardage should help him work himself into the tight end rotation ahead of Hanna almost immediately.
If Frederick made you think the Cowboys were reaching for players at positions of need, Escobar should also have helped to correct that notion. I know TE wasn't on my list of needs this year.
Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor: Big, fast, good hands, and polished routes. Isn't that what we all want in a third receiver?
The Cowboys have had issues keeping their top two receivers on the field, so this pick certainly reassures those who might be worried for 2013. Beyond that, it also gives us a new Laurent Robinson type of receiver that can be counted on to do his job and play outside when Austin kicks in to the slot.
My only complaint is minor, and that's regarding his jumping measurements. He simply doesn't seem to have the explosive power that Austin and Bryant have. That's fine, as long as people aren't expecting him to render Austin irrelevant from day one. He's got the skillset of a great third receiver, and I hope we can continue to utilize him in that way.
J.J. Wilcox, S, Georgia Southern: Big, fast, good hands...wait, didn't I say this already? It turns out that Wilcox is, in many ways, similar to Terrance Williams, physically. Athletically, however, Wilcox gives up only .03 seconds in 40yd speed in exchange for largely superior strength and agility.
Wilcox is a converted receiver, which would seem to guarantee good hands and ball skills, and (unlike many converted offensive players) the man can tackle.
There's another athletic parallel to be drawn here, and that's to Matt Johnson. Wilcox is another small school player with potential, and it will be interesting to see who of their current four players at the position the team views as starters. Barry Church and Will Allen may be the two more experienced players, but something tells me the team would like to see Johnson and Wilcox lining up together at some point in the future.
So what have the Cowboys accomplished after three rounds and four players selected? Judging by the type of players selected, the Cowboys have added four players to their roster who they hope will contribute quickly and often in the 2013 season.