After a quiet free agent period, the Dallas Cowboys entered the 2013 NFL Draft with the opportunity to improve their football team and get younger. The goal of every draft is simple, get good football players and leave the draft with a better team. In essence, the Cowboys managed to do that and they solved some needs, but they also left some holes open.
If you wanted this franchise to answer every need with just six picks, well then you were going to come away disappointed. It's nearly impossible to do that, so we shouldn't expect even the best drafting teams to accomplish that feat.
The Cowboys accomplished some of their goals and found value along the way. While this isn't my favorite draft class in recent years, this year's haul is a solid one and the players acquired have the potential to all become contributors or starters.
It's extremely difficult and premature to grade a draft class this early, but the grading process is common in the NFL community. Even though we won't know how successful or unsuccessful a draft will be for a few years, I always follow up with my own grades.
Travis Frederick: C+
Part of the problem I had with the trade was that the war room passed on Eric Reid, a player who would have fit a huge need at safety. The San Francisco 49ers are one of the best in the business at evaluating talent, and they clearly felt that Reid was a great prospect who was worth trading up for and could be a difference maker for them in their secondary. If the 49ers were that high on him, then it does concern me that the Cowboys passed on taking Reid at 18.
Maybe the trade chart used by the Cowboys had them as winners, but trading down from 18 to 31 and only picking up a third-round pick doesn't look like a win for Dallas. In the pre-draft presser, Jerry Jones basically announced to the entire league that he wanted to trade down.
"We will be open to improving where we are," Jones said Monday, sitting between head coach Jason Garrett and his son Stephen Jones, the Cowboys’ vice president and director of player personnel. "There’s a lot of depth at a lot of positions in this draft, and so you could maybe get where you want to be at certain positions and gain a pick or gain some collateral there through the trade. That’s what it’s always been about."
"Just my assessment, there’s enough depth in this draft that you sure want to keep your ears open for trades because you very well could get as good or a better player at another level," Jones said. "And I will, and we will have our minds open and we won’t be doing a lot before the draft. When I say doing a lot, probably fielding many calls. It’ll probably be happening right there on draft day."
When he did that, it's possible the franchise lost leverage and a bargaining chip. That also could have played a large role in the negotiation of this trade. Going forward, the general manager and owner should probably consider keeping that type of information bottled up. The trade look forced and rushed, just not natural.
Had they stayed put, Reid or Sharrif Floyd would have been much better picks. One more thing to consider, what if the Cowboys traded up for Sheldon Richardson, Star Lotulelei or Kenny Vaccaro? The way this draft was unfolding, it may not have cost them that much to move up and secure a player that they really wanted and had a high grade on their board.
Trading up isn't a popular theory, but I would have given that serious consideration.
Watching the live feed from the war room, it looked like Jason Garrett and Tom Ciskowski were not pleased with the trade. Ciskowski rarely shows much emotion, and that was one of the first times I have ever seen him look irritated or upset by a move. Brandon Moore of the Dallas Morning News wrote an article and also suggests the same.
Garrett and Cowboys assistant director of player personnel Tom Ciskowski didn’t look happy after Stephen Jones hung up the phone. They were both slumped back in their chairs.
Garrett, at one point, had a blank look across his face as he started rubbing his forehead with his hand. Ciskowski and Stephen Jones also had an animated exchange. It was a rare show of emotion by Ciskowski.
Then there is the actual selection at 31, which I was hoping for Jonathan Cyprien. He was the type of physical safety that has the coverage skills and thumping ability that instantly could have upgraded the secondary. He wasn't the selection, but Cyprien didn't fall to much farther as he went 33rd overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
As for Frederick, he definitely fills a need on the interior of the offensive line, but taking him at 31 may have been a little rich. This kid was a polished Wisconsin offensive lineman that possesses superior strength and football intelligence. He can play either the center or guard position, but the Cowboys currently have him listed as a center. After re-signing Phil Costa and publicly supporting him, maybe the Cowboys are finally coming to the conclusion that they can't be a highly successful team with him under center.
Maybe Frederick will start at guard, but he's probably best at his natural position snapping the football to the quarterback. His strength will be a welcomed sight and Frederick won't get thrown around like a rag doll into the backfield. That means we won't see as much pressure up the middle, which killed us last year, and the running game will also improve. Chance Warmack and Larry Warford had the physical makeup and nasty attitude that many of us wanted to bring to the offensive line, and our new center/guard has that same physicality.
Frederick will also bring a vocal presence and will be able to coordinate the line calls. He is very smart and his ability to diagnose blitzes is another added benefit. This is something that the Dallas offensive line has lacked the past few years. Wisconsin prepared Travis for the NFL, he should have no problem being a vocal leader and making adjustments.
Even though the Cowboys answered a need, this selection and trade didn't look like the best option. The entire situation unfolded in a awkward way and as of right now doesn't look like the best decision. If Frederick develops into an elite center, then a few years from now we can totally say that Dallas made a good move. Considering he was considered by many to be the best center in the draft, then it's not unrealistic that we found an elite lineman, which is something this team desperately needs more of.