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A Special "Thank You" to BtB

Some of you may be aware, but I suspect many are not, that my wife passed away March 28th due to a brain aneurysm. OCC was generous with his time to take my place at Drafttek during my leave of absence, Rabble was understanding in accepting my decision not to participate in his excellent Round Table discussion this year, and the rest of the front page writers were supportive in their thoughts and prayers.

Needless to say, I did not produce my "Big Uglies" series this year; however, my grading cards are all intact. So as my way of saying "thank you" (although somewhat belatedly), I decided to post my thoughts on the only Big Ugly Dallas drafted this year, one Travis Frederick. I hope you enjoy it and if any of you have questions on linemen in this year's draft, feel free to e-mail me: longball@drafttek.com and I will reply with thoughts from my grading cards.

Snap the ball (whether the QB is under center or back in shotgun formation) and block a 300+ pounder – simple eh? OK, volunteers line up over here . . . yep, that’s what I thought, no takers. Centers also normally call the line blocking assignments and, as a result, are second in importance only to the LT position. This year’s center class, unlike offensive guards, is limited in the number of prospects who may compete at the next level.

The best center in this year’s draft is yet another Badger from that offensive line factory in Madison: Travis Frederick (6’4", 312 lbs) of Wisconsin. He would also make a damned fine guard, but is far more valuable at the pivot. This 3-year starter’s intangibles and work ethic are off the chart, so let’s talk about the concern many pundits have (but not Ol’ Long Ball): his Combine performance. 10" hands at the end of 33" arms is just fine for an interior lineman, his forty time of 5.55 (1.85 ten-yard split) was slow, 21 bench presses belied his strength (as his training regimen focused on squats – 600 lbs, overall weight on bench press – 460 lbs, and power cleans of 350 lbs for explosion . . . sounds like he subscribes to the Big Tuna’s weight program for OL!), vertical was 28.5, broad was 8’5", shuttle was 4.76 and 3-cone was 7.81.

But all those "Underwear Olympics" numbers pale in comparison to game film . . . this is one "Long Ball Nasty" dude! The former two-star recruit out of Big Foot High School (WI) out-performed his predecessors Peter Konz and Kevin Zeitler, becoming the first true freshman offensive lineman to start the season opener for the Badgers in school history, and ended up starting 4 games (2 at center, 2 at guard) in 2009. He red-shirted in 2010 and then started all 13 games in 2011 (11 at left guard, last 2 at center) before moving to the pivot permanently in 2012.

In pass blocking, Frederick starts with a naturally wide base off the snap, providing a strong anchor. His technique is solid, as he sinks his hips and maintains leverage with a consistent pad level. His upper body strength is evident as he gets his hands into opponents with excellent placement, and his strong hands allow him to sustain blocks for an extended period of time. Travis is a student of the game, as evidenced by his ability to quickly recognize and diagnose what the defense is doing and adjust the OL calls. His technique is very good and he keeps his head on a swivel to react to different scenarios.

Travis is a physical run blocker with raw power and strength at the point of attack, attaining a good initial push off the snap. He understands blocking angles and positions his body well, walling off defenders to seal run lanes. Although he does not possess a quick-twitch, Frederick sets up quickly, plays with good leverage and moves well in space with his head up, always looking for someone to block. What other people call "nasty", Long Ball will simply say the young man finishes his blocks!

Absolutely no character issues, very coachable student of the game . . . I anticipate he will quickly become a leader of any OL he joins

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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