As a fan of the Dallas Cowboys, it's become troubling to recall the events of the 2009 NFL Draft. We all know the history, so I won't totally put the organization on blast for something that took place over four years ago, but the trade for wide receiver Roy Williams set the organization back. Not only did that transaction hurt the team, it's what happened in the draft that really drove the knife into the wound even deeper.
Without their first round pick, Dallas still had a league-high 12 picks and have zero players left on the roster from that draft class. Not adding any meaningful talent hurt this team in the short-term and long-term.
Digging even further, let's examine what happened in the second round. The Cowboys still had a first-round grade on Oregon offensive lineman Max Unger. Sitting at 51, Dallas had enough picks to move up for Unger, but they decided to wait for their guy to fall to them. Then the Seattle Seahawks made a trade for the 49th overall pick and stole a player that our war room coveted.
Cowboys wanted to draft this Seahawks Center Max Unger. Had a first round grade and there in 2nd. Hawks jumped them and had to bail.— Bryan Broaddus (@BryanBroaddus) January 7, 2013
When Seattle did this, Dallas was crushed and instead of taking another player with a first-round grade (LeSean McCoy) or a guard (Andy Levitre), they took the Unger situation as a loss and moved completely out of the second round and acquired an extra third and fourth-round pick.
What did Jerry Jones learn from the Unger situation? Well I believe that he learned if there is a player the team absolutely loves and is close enough in their sights, they will go make it happen. We saw this last year when Morris Claiborne dropped a few spots. Already fielding conversations with the St. Louis Rams, Jones had the foundation for a deal worked out and that helped the Cowboys land the best defensive player in the draft.
While 2009 was a learning experience, Jones didn't follow that trade up logic in 2013 and watched a player the team really liked go a few picks ahead of them at 18. It's possible that the New Orleans Saints never would have dealt away their opportunity to land Kenny Vaccaro, but I do believe that Dallas could have made a deal with the Oakland Raiders at 12 or the New York Jets at 13.
In my opinion, after trading down and watching the offensive lineman fly off the board, Jones and the rest of the war room talked about how Unger was taken from them back in 2009. It's probable that Wisconsin center Travis Frederick could have lasted on the board until we picked again at 47, but the risk of losing the top rated lineman on their board wasn't worth it.
Make no mistake about it, this team needs to be right about their assessment of the center they drafted this year.
They passed on a lot of talented players who either fit needs or the best player available criteria that Stephen Jones and Jason Garrett preached about all offseason.
Unger and Frederick are not similar players. Though both exceed in run blocking, the former Oregon standout is a much better athlete. In no way am I comparing the players, but if the Cowboys' scouting department was that high on a center in 2009, it's encouraging because maybe they are right about Frederick. After all, Dallas did have a first-round grade on Unger and now he's become one of the best centers in the game.
Losing a player burns, but passing and watching another team steal him stings even more. I admit that Frederick wouldn't have been my pick at 31, heck I wouldn't have traded down from 18, but maybe learning from past mistakes is finally a part of the process in Dallas. If it really is, that tells me the organization is taking the necessary steps to become a better football team and improve on their decision making.
If our boy Fred turns into anywhere near the caliber of player Max Unger is (2012 All-Pro), then the Cowboys struck gold.