The Cowboys have received their fair share criticism for what many see as a bungled trade-down in the first round. What may have fallen by the wayside in the many attempts to analyze and grade the Cowboys draft is that pick-by-pick, the Cowboys' haul of draftees looks very promising.
We noted in our review of NFL.com's predraft grades "Every single one of these players is likely to see a good number of snaps on offense or defense this year. Purely in terms of number of snaps played in the first year, this draft class has the chance to surpass any draft class since the 2005 class."
Quoting a team source, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes there is a feeling inside the organization that this is the best draft the team has had in a few years in terms of the picks and the value.
"All in all, it was probably the most successful draft we’ve had in a while," a source said. "We got a guy in the fifth round [running back Joseph Randle] we had on the board in the third. We got good value on guys instead or reaching as we did in the past. Last year, we needed a safety and might have pumped a little air in [fourth-round pick Matt Johnson]. We took him earlier than we needed to. That didn’t happen this year, other than maybe the first round. We got good value."
Hill also drops some information on where the Cowboys had their seven draft picks and one UDFA graded. If we assume, as the Cowboys have said, that Frederick, Escobar and Williams were all graded as second-rounders, then the Cowboys' grades looked like this:
|2||Gavin Escobar||TE||Second Round
|3||Terrance Williams||WR||Second Round|
|3||J.J. Wilcox||S||Third Round
|5||Joseph Randle||RB||Third Round
|6||DeVonte Holloman||LB||Fifth Round
|UDFA||Brandon Magee||LB||Fourth Round
* Hill writes about B.W. Webb that "a couple of scouts had him rated as a second-round prospect," meaning there were probably other scouts who had him rated lower, which is why he shows up with a second to third round grade in the table above.
Hill also explains what the Cowboys were thinking in picking Holloman (5th-round grade) over the higher-rated Magee (4th-round grade):
They made the call to pick Holloman and chance that Magee would make it to free agency because of Magee’s smaller size and injury history. They also felt Holloman was a better special teams player.
Obviously, we don't know who Hill's source is in the organization - for all we know it may be PR man Rich Dalrymple trying to give this draft a positive spin - but if the Cowboys did indeed come away from the draft with three players with second-round grades and three more with third-round grades, then there is certainly reason for optimism.
The 2013 Cowboys draft will remain a source for contentious discussion for a while yet, but when you move beyond the question of whether the Cowboys reached in the first round, and whether they went "off board" when they traded down, you'll probably find that, on paper, this is a pretty solid draft class.
Of course, how good a draft class is on paper doesn't help you win games on Sunday. And neither does trade value. Ultimately, how good or bad this draft class really is won't become clear until we're a few years down the road.