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 along the way they solved some needs, but 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.
In my opinion, this was the best draft pick the Cowboys made last week. Williams not only fit a need, he was most likely the highest rated player on the board and that is a combination for draft success. Tom Ciskowski said on the On Air With DC Star (around 22:30) that our first three picks were rated in the top 30 and the productive Baylor wide receiver excited the war room when he fell to them in the third round 74th overall. It's possible that Williams was a target in the second round, and getting him in the third was great value.
With the previous draft grades, we discussed some of the players the Cowboys passed on. Terron Armstead is athletic and talented, but he's another small-school project that the team clearly didn't value enough to take a chance on. They also passed up the opportunity to land Cal wide receiver Keenan Allen, but his injury history and off-the-field concerns probably factored into that decision.
This is the type of pick that makes you scratch your head as to why Williams was there so late. As a senior he led the nation in receiving yards (1,832) and yards-per-game (140.9), was a unanimous first-team All-American and All-Big 12 selection and a finalist for the Biletnikoff award. Williams has an impressive list of accomplishments and production.
His combination of size (6'2", 208) and speed (4.52) make him the perfect weapon as an outside wide receiver. Our very own rabblerousr profiled pre-draft visitors and in his profile on Williams he summed up why the Cowboys were looking to add another wide receiver.
Despite his astounding production, I'm less enamored of WIlliams than I am of Clemson's DeAndre Hopkins, who seems more NFL ready. What Williams provides that Hopkins doesn't is deep speed. If you look at the Cowboys' skill position players, talent abounds, with the exception of a wide receiver with the speed to take the top off of a defense. Consider: how much more room might Jason Witten and DeMarco Murray find with a Mike Wallace-type speed merchant lined up outside the numbers?
In Williams, Markus Wheaton and Josh Boyce, the Cowboys have three invitees who boast the deep speed to ensure that Murray sees far fewer men in the box. Of the three, Williams offers the least appealing combination of skillset and value (I think Wheaton is a better receiver, and Boyce can be had in a later round). So, while I like Williams, there are better options, both in the second round and later in the draft.
Rabble favored some of the other potential wide receivers, but he does come to the conclusion that the lack of a threat who can "take off the top of a defense" was an appealing need for the Cowboys and Williams erases that hole immediately. Since Terry Glenn (which is the number Williams will wear) there hasn't been a player with the deep speed to open things up underneath and stretch the field.
Terrance's 18.9 yards per catch in 2012 demonstrates that this is a big play wide receiver. Also 34 of his catches went for over 20 yards, while 16 of them went for over 30. Production like that without Robert Griffin III is very impressive.
Depth at wide receiver has been a problem for this team. Kevin Ogletree never grew into the type of player we needed him to be. Miles Austin is a very good receiver when he is on the field, but his nagging injuries have forced the #3 wide receiver into a starting role. In the NFL you need three starting caliber wide receivers, now the Cowboys have four of them. Williams brings big play ability, offers depth, but also offers an option to Austin's cap situation down the road.
We all know that Jason Garrett searches for high character individuals who have the right attitude and mentality. Garrett consulted Williams' head coach at Baylor and Art Briles told him that if the Cowboys drafted Williams they would be getting a steal, but also a great young man who fits the RKG criteria.
When you read scouting reports on Williams, the strengths and weaknesses are very similar to Torrey Smith coming out of Maryland a few years ago. They are similar wide receivers, except that Smith has more quickness off of the line. A better comparison would be Roddy White. It's asking a lot of Williams to become the next White, but I believe they have similar qualities and it's not unrealistic for our new wide receiver to grow into a great NFL player. If he can improve his route running and become a more complete receiver, then we got ourselves another great offensive player.