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Three Years Later, Sports Illustrated Upgrades 2013 Cowboys Draft From C+ to B+

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Widely ridiculed for picking Travis Frederick at the time, the 2013 Cowboys draft looks much better three years later.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Three years ago, in grades published immediately after the 2013 draft, Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated panned the Cowboys draft:

The Travis Frederick selection was a reach. A major reach. Fellow C Brian Schwenke was taken 76 picks later and it's hard to say Frederick is noticeably better. It got better from there, with TE Gavin Escobar, WR Terrance Williams and S J.J. Wilcox, for starters. The Cowboys, though, still need help at RT, possibly a backup RB, another pass rusher and some linebacker help. They didn't address many needs in this draft

By SI.com standards, the C+ cumulative grade for the Cowboys was pretty bad. 22 teams received a better grade, only six received a worse grade. That ranked the Cowboys draft between 23rd and 26th.

Brian Schwenke, who was picked by the Titans, missed time in his rookie season with a high-ankle sprain that needed offseason surgery. In 2014, he tore his MCL and finished the year on IR before then dislocating his ankle this past season and again was sent to injured reserve. Schwenke has made just 25-of-48 starts and really hasn't even been good when on the field, and the Titans signed center Ben Jones from Houston to a $17.5 million dollar contract to shore up the position.

Travis Frederick meanwhile has been to two Pro Bowls, has made second-team All Pro twice, and the Cowboys just picked up his fifth-year option a year ago.

But SI.com was not the only outlet panning the Cowboys draft. Here's Pro Football Talk's take on Travis Frederick at the time.

On Mike Mayock’s list of the top 100 prospects in the draft, Frederick checked in at No. 92 — 50 spots lower than the next-lowest player selected in the first round. On the ESPN.com draft board, Frederick was listed as a third-round pick.

But that’s just members of the media. What did NFL teams think? Ed Werder of ESPN surveyed five NFL teams and asked for their grades on Frederick. One team rated him a fourth-round pick, two had him as a fifth-round pick, one had him as a sixth-round pick and one had him as a borderline sixth- or seventh-round pick.

You can google more 2013 draft grades, and you'll find some hilarious takes from self-styled experts who are anything but. In fact, I encourage you to do it; see which doofuses you can unearth.

The 2013 Cowboys draft class is a good example of why it usually takes three full seasons before you can properly evaluate a draft class - and even then, injuries, coaching changes and other factors may make such an assessment a tricky proposition.

Fully aware of that three-year waiting period, SI.com's Greg Bedard re-graded the 2013 draft today, and gave the Cowboys a B+ for their draft haul.

Despite having the penultimate pick in the first round, the Cowboys got a franchise center in Frederick, and got contributors in WR Terrance Williams, DB J.J. Wilcox and even RB Joseph Randle (before he collapsed off the field).

This time around, the 2013 Cowboys draft class ranks sixth overall, quite a jump up from where they were ranked immediately after the draft. Of particular note, three teams aced the 2013 draft in the 2013 article with straight "As": The 49ers, Jaguars, and Rams. Re-graded three years later, those three teams are textbook examples for the folly of instant draft grades. The 49ers get an "F", the Rams a "C", and the Jaguars a "C+" three years later.

But that doesn't automatically mean that bad initial grades will morph into a good grade three years later, or vice versa. In 2013, the Cleveland Browns received the worst draft grade of all teams with a "D+". Three years later, they are down to a straight "F".

Draft "grades" right after the draft are one of silliest rituals NFL has produced. Complaining about those draft grades is probably even sillier.

Every year we'll see a wide range of assessments of draft classes. Some of them offer a reasonable assessment of a given team's draft, others offer a much more radical take penned by authors clawing and scratching for relevance, who often have no particular football expertise, and only have snarky commentary and click-generating headlines to offer.

Stick with the former.

I'll let a Redskins fan have the last word today:

And everyone was clowning on them for taking Frederick "too early". I wish we would draft a Pro Bowl center "too early".
by CJHutch on Sep 28, 2014 | 9:53 PM