The Cowboys spent a lot of time in their press conference yesterday explaining their rationale for drafting OC/OG Travis Frederic, TE Gavin Escobar and WR Terrance Williams.
The Cowboys drew some criticism for trading down from the 18th spot to pick center Travis Frederick with the 31st pick. After picking tight end Gavin Escobar with the 47th overall pick, they then added Baylor wide receiver Terrance Williams with the No. 74 overall pick, which they had acquired from the San Francisco 49ers along with No. 31 in exchange for their 18th pick.
Jason Garrett said yesterday that the Cowboys had stuck to their board with all three picks: "We just felt great about the three guys we selected. You’ve heard me, and us, talk a lot about trying to be disciplined in taking the best players available. I believe we did that. These guys were all high on our board."
Jerry Jones added that all three picks were tightly bunched on the Cowboys draft board: "If you look at those first three picks, if you could see our draft board, you would see beginning right in the early 20s, you would see those first three picks right there within about four or five of each other. Those first three, on our draft board, are right there in that early-twenty area."
Jones went on to address the criticism the initial trade-down had received. "Yesterday we traded down and got Travis Frederick. We received some critique as ‘Did we get enough? Did we pass and not get players that were there by going down to get Frederick?’"
"By moving down from 18 to 31, we got Travis Frederick. We discussed that last night. I need to say this, it’s very important: We really thought Frederick would be there as low as 31. We needed, and were going to get us, a foundation for our offensive line. Certainly there were a couple [of offensive linemen] at the top that didn’t magically fall down there, in the interior. And that would have been a dream from the fall down there, and you could have operated like that."
"But as far as [establishing a] base, as far as all the things that will give Romo a half a second potentially, this was our player. There was no serious angst on our part by going from 18 to 31. We were concerned with going with another pick at another position there and still staying in play to get the last of the Mohicans that could do this for us – which was Frederick."
"And so when we got to 31, you would have had to put a gun to my head to try two or three more picks and still end up with Frederick. Frederick is a player. He represents a draft pick, but what he really is is a foundation there in the middle that when we’ve got him and Smith on the outside, we can fill in the blanks as we go along over the next few years if he is the player that we expect him to be. We needed that base. Romo called and said, "Thank you for my extra half a second." That is going to mean more to us than anything I could say."
"That was the thinking that was there and that’s why we didn’t go. We were actually fortunate because we didn’t want to spend the 18 there, but we wanted to get him in the first round because we wanted to get five years on him. You get out of that first round, you don’t get that. That’s a big year for an interior lineman if he’s a good one."
"So we wanted it there, but frankly, although we did everything we could do to get as best a pick as we could, it’s not as consequential as it sounds. We were going to take Frederick there because that lets us start the foundation that lets us build our offensive line. Now the fact that we got a three, and it ends up being Terrance Williams, who it turns out was way up the board from where we took him, was a major plus."
Reports vary on how many first-round grades the Cowboy had on their draft board, but the consensus seems to be between 16 and 19. The Cowboys gave their three top picks grades in the "very early 20s", which makes the three of them either borderline first-rounders or very high second-rounders on the Cowboys’ board.
"As far as going by your draft board," Jones concluded, "we were able to come down and yet be right there true to that draft board within the very early 20s."