Travis Frederick’s retirement this week had a lot of people looking in the rearview mirror. Hard as it is to believe, it has already been seven years since he was drafted. The Dallas Cowboys took Frederick with the 31st pick (they traded back) in the 2013 NFL Draft and were one year away from their offensive line vision truly materializing. That draft saw the Kansas City Chiefs hold the number one overall pick and here we all sit with KC as the most recent Super Bowl Champion.
Interestingly enough, the Cowboys’ first-round pick the year before Travis Frederick was part of the Chiefs team that just won the Super Bowl (as was new Cowboys tight end Blake Bell). Dallas took Morris Claiborne after trading up in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft and ultimately parted ways with him after 2016.
Claiborne technically got a second contract with Dallas as, after originally not picking up his fifth-year option, the team signed him to a one-year prove-it deal in 2016. After the 13-3 season that ended at the hands of new Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy (the world is connected everywhere!) he moved on to the New York Jets before landing in Kansas City.
Gil Brand’s 2012 NFL Draft re-do has the Cowboys landing a different cornerback
In social media land, Thursdays are often treated to “Throwback Thursday” affairs where people look back on a point in the past. Pro Football Hall of Famer Gil Brandt did this to a degree when he re-did the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
The Cowboys originally held the 14th overall pick in 2012 but traded it and their second-round selection (45th overall) to the then-St. Louis Rams in order to jump up to number six overall. They obviously took Claiborne but Mr. Brandt has them taking a different cornerback - Stephon Gilmore.
6: Stephon Gilmore - CB
Original pick: Morris Claiborne.
Gilmore was actually drafted: by the Bills in Round 1 (No. 10).
Gilmore became the shutdown corner the Cowboys hoped they were getting in Claiborne, who never really caught on in Dallas. Only three players ( Richard Sherman, Marcus Peters and Reggie Nelson) have more picks over the past eight seasons than Gilmore (24), who was a centerpiece of the Patriots’ top-ranked defense in 2019, earning Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro honors for the second consecutive season.
Gilmore has made his name far more known over the last three seasons as a member of the New England Patriots, but he was very good in Buffalo before then as well. He is currently operating at what is unarguably the peak of his powers as he is the NFL’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year.
Claiborne wasn’t necessarily bad for the Cowboys but he was never the elite player that Dallas traded up to get. Eight years later he does have a Super Bowl ring with Kansas City to show for his NFL efforts, but he has seven career interceptions to Gilmore’s 24.
Had Dallas drafted Stephon Gilmore instead, it’s interesting to consider what their future might have looked like. Perhaps he would have played well with the big free agent signing that Dallas made in 2012, Brandon Carr, and maybe even altered the path that led to Dallas drafting what is now the highest-paid cornerback in the league, Byron Jones, in 2015.
Hindsight is 20/20.