For better or worse, the vast majority of the 53 man roster is already on the payroll, or soon will be. Now is the time that we as fans start to overly tout the virtues of our newest players, and bestow on them unrealistic expectations. At this point it really doesn't matter where, or even if, a player was drafted we start projecting his future. That is all well and good, but now is a time for us to also consider tempering expectations.
Take, for example, first round draft pick Travis Frederick. Sure the team has drafted the guy who will anchor the center of the offensive line for the next decade, but as OCC recently posted in his look at training camp battles, we should not expect him to set the world on fire right out of the gate. Sure the guy is strong enough to bench press Jerry's limo out in the parking lot, (and a beard to make Chuck Norris wonder when he will be able to grow such facial hair) but this is the NFL, and sometimes a little old age and treachery can overcome youth and strength. The Bearded Beast of the NFC East will most likely struggle right out of the gate. Look at the numbers for Konz and the Pouncey brothers in OCC's post. I don't expect that he will be pushed around in the manner we have so often scene in recent past but I do see him getting his lunch ate quite a few times by some crafty old veterans veterans who dig deep in their bag of tricks. Fortunately, Frederick will have one of those grizzled vets lining up across from him in Oxnard, so that should help to flatten his learning curve.
Another case in point is Terrence Williams. We are pretty certain that he is the heir apparent for Miles Austin, but to expect him to step right in and start is unrealistic. The guy has big time talent, and he will add a dimension to the Cowboys offense that has been lacking. The whole truth is that although he will get quite a few reps right out of the gate, he will not have mastered the playbook to the point where he is ready to be the team's number two receiver. Let's face it Garrett's schemes are pretty complex and take a while to master. Some never do. Like every other rookie receiver, Garrett and the offensive coaching staff will keep adding to his responsibility as time goes on and eventually I think we will see him as the starter but it won't be anytime soon. For now Williams will be a role player for the Cowboys.
J J Wilcox is another guy who will impact the season, but I don't see him as a starter this year. The kid had one heck of a season at safety for Georgia Southern, but again this is the NFL. The JAGs that he goes up against are much better than what he faced in college. He has the athletic ability and attitude to adapt rapidly but this is another case of wily old veterans, who will take him to school. Like his fellow draftees, Wilcox is a RKG, and he will figure prominently in the Cowboys future, but for now his primary role is to learn the position that he recently moved to. He will be aided in this by Coach Kiffen's schemes so I expect a much faster transition for him than what he would have experienced in a Rob Ryan defense, but for now the starters will be Church and Johnson unless injuries take their toll.
All in all, I am well pleased with the draft that the team had, but I also keep in mind that Jason Garrett is a strategic thinker, and Stephen Jones seems to be as well. While we fans expect immediate return on investment, JG and SJ seem to be looking at a much bigger picture. My opinion is that in the long run this will be considered a very good draft for Dallas, but for now, the fans need to temper their expectations for the rookies.