So is there an anti-Cowboys bias amongst the national media?
Let's take a look at the reaction to some of the first round picks that could be seen as ‘reaches.' I've looked at four such cases:
Pick Selected: 16
NFL.com Grade: 68.7
SI.com Grade: 7.90
Pick Selected: 19
NFL.com Grade: 73.0
SI.com Grade: 7.90
Pick Selected: 20
NFL.com Grade: 77.0
SI.com Grade: 5.40
Pick Selected: 31
NFL.com Grade: 78.7
SI.com Grade: 7.00
Of the four, Frederick had the highest NFL.com grade and was picked the latest (31st overall).
So what did some national pundits have to say about these four selections? Do any of them exhibit some anti-Cowboys bias?
Pete Prisco (CBSSports.com)
On Manuel: I just didn't see what they saw in first-round pick EJ Manuel. He has dynamic skills, but it takes a lot more than that. This is the pick that will define coach Doug Marrone. Grade: C+
On Pugh: Questionable move. It's their first-round pick of the tackle Justin Pugh. I think there were better options on the board.
Analysis: The pick of Pugh in the first round was a bit high, I thought. Grade: B-
On Long: Taking guard Kyle Long in the first round was a strange move, even though the kid will add some nastiness to the line. They had more pressing needs. Grade: C
On Frederick: Questionable move: Trading down and taking center/guard Travis Frederick in the first round. He fills a big need, and I like his toughness, but this is a move that will be questioned.
Analysis: Some will kill the Cowboys for trading back and taking Frederick. I won't. He will be a quality starter. Grade: C
All in all, seems pretty even-handed on these picks.
Bias Meter: 0.0
Mike Mayock (NFL.com)
On Manuel: You can mold him into something really special. He's raw, but he's that piece of clay where you take him and you can turn him to what you want.
On Pugh: I told you it wasn't sexy, but I love the pick. He can play left tackle. He can play right tackle. He can play left guard. He can play right guard.
On Long: He's one of my favorite players in the draft. He's immediately a starting guard that down the road is a starting tackle.
On Frederick: This is a kid who is a typical Wisconsin offensive lineman. He's tough and takes great angles, but I had a third-round grade on him, and I think it's a little bit of a reach at this point.
Only Frederick called out as a reach here. To be fair, Mayock had Long as his 3rd ranked guard, Pugh as tied for his 5th ranked tackle, and Frederick as his 3rd ranked center (behind Schwenke and Jones), so it could just be that he simply likes Long and Pugh more than Frederick, despite where they were picked in the round.
Bias Meter: 1.0
Bryan Perez (FirstRoundGrade.com)
On Manuel: In a bit of surprise, Manuel is the first quarterback off the board. Manuel offers the prototype measurables for the position. He's big, he's athletic, and he has enough juice in his arm to be coached into a capable, if not quality, starting quarterback in the NFL. That said, the Bills grabbed a second round prospect at the 16th pick overall. A bit of a reach. GRADE: C+
On Pugh: With Menelik Watson still on the board, I'm surprised the Giants went in this direction. While Pugh is a nice player, I'm not sure he has the length to play tackle in the NFL. Pugh is an intelligent and all-around effective player, but with a true tackle still on the board in Watson, I would've gone in another direction. GRADE: C+
On Long: By far, the worst pick in the first round so far. Graded as a 5th rounder by FRG Scouting, Long has a "long" way to go before he is a starting level player in the NFL. Sure, he has good pedigree, but Long would've been on the board in the third round. Why the Bears decided to take him at No. 20 is beyond and reasonable explanation. Just...awful. GRADE: F
On Frederick: The second biggest reach in round 1 aside from Kyle Long (Bears). Frederick is a nice player, but much like Long, he would've been around later in the draft. The Cowboys needed to address the interior of their offensive line, so the pick is logical. Just not sure the grade equates to the 31st overall selection. GRADE: D+
Seems a bit harsh, again given that Frederick was two picks removed from being a 2nd round selection, but at least Dallas wasn't the worst, right? Chicago's selection of Long brought up the rear. Still, while Long and Frederick were surefire ‘reaches,' Perez just "would've gone in another direction" than Pugh... And Manuel, a "second round prospect" selected 16th overall was only "a bit of a reach."
Bias Meter: 5.0
Rob Rang (CBSSports.com)
On Manuel: Manuel wasn't asked to make complicated reads in Tallahassee and impressed coaches at the Senior Bowl when forced to do so. He's too much of a projection to warrant No. 16 overall but is the most dynamic dual-threat passer in the draft, and his upside is through the roof. Grade: C+
On Pugh: With depth concerns all over the offensive line, Pugh makes sense for the always re-stocking Giants. Grade: B-
On Long: New head coach Marc Trestman's dynamic offense calls for athletic linemen. Long has the length, mobility and bloodlines to excite ... but with just one season as a starter at Oregon, he's certainly a project. Grade: C
On Frederick: Don't get me wrong, Frederick is a good player, but for the Cowboys to drop down 13 spots and get only one pick (No. 74 overall) to add a center? This team needs more. Grade: C-
Manuel and Long are 'projects', Pugh "makes sense", and Frederick is a "good player" but he still warrants the worst grade of the four, and that's with dropping back and getting another pick! Head scratcher here.
Bias Meter: 6.0
Chris Burke (SI.com)
On Manuel: If Manuel ever plays like he should - as in, like a player with his physical gifts ought to be able to - then Buffalo might make a fool of everyone here. But it's a shot in the dark by the Bills, with the hope that Manuel flips the switch at some point. He'll need time to develop ... and a few QBs taken lower could lap him by the time he's ready to go. Grade: D+
On Pugh: I figure a "B" grade is fitting for a player who probably will never really blow anyone away, mainly because he'll be solid enough that fans will not notice him making mistakes. Grade: B
On Long: This is what I gave the Giants for the Pugh pick, and a lot of the same principles hold here. Long's an unexciting selection, but he will help his new team. The question is how much he'll help and how early. Grade: B
On Frederick: Getting an extra pick here and there is nice, but sometimes the cost outweighs the benefit. The Cowboys moved down, leaving at least two other linemen on the board, then reached on a guy at 31. Grade: C
Yes, Manuel is graded as the worst pick of the four, but it's the other 3 grades that are particularly galling. The Giants get a solid B grade for picking a player who the site Burke writes for (SI.com) grades a 7.9, but the Cowboys get a C for picking a player with a 7.0 grade TWELVE picks later.
Even better, the Bears also get a B for picking a player Burke's site rates a FIVE POINT FOUR (!) some ELEVEN picks before Dallas, but Dallas merits a C for their pick (while acknowledging that getting an extra pick to boot "is nice"). Long is an "unexciting selection, but he will help his new team", just like Pugh. But I guess the "same principles" don't hold with Frederick! Not sure this computes.
Bias Meter: 8.0
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!