The Dallas Cowboys have been relatively stingy with their draft resources recently. When they trade up in the premium rounds (or for an established player like Amari Cooper), it’s usually worked out well. That’s why when they finally do cave and surrender picks to another team in order to trade up, that must mean they’ve believe they latched on to something good.
Back in 2014, the team gave up a third-round pick to move up to select the edge rusher they wanted, DeMarcus Lawrence. They sniffed that one out pretty well as he transformed into an All-Pro player who just so happens to be the highest-paid player the team has under contract past this upcoming season.
The Cowboys also gave into temptation in 2017 when they watched teams repeatedly pass on Xavier Woods. Without a fifth-round pick (thanks a lot, Matt Cassel), the team sat helplessly while Woods remained available, but finally couldn’t help it anymore when he was still lingering around in the sixth-round. The team gave up a fifth-round pick the following year to get back in the draft to select Woods. Again, that’s draft capital well spent as Woods has been one of the team’s starting safeties the past two seasons.
And then there’s Amari Cooper. In what was initially sold as a panic move from the Cowboys after giving up a first-round draft pick, it’s pretty clear that the Cowboys got another one right as Cooper has now put together four Pro Bowl seasons in just his first five years in the league. He joins Lawrence as the only two current members of the Cowboys who have $100+ M contracts with the team.
That’s why it should pique our interest a bit when the Cowboys hit their buzzer on Saturday in order to jump back into the fourth round to select Wisconsin center Tyler Biadasz. He’s a guy nobody is really talking about that much. We like the pick because it addresses a key need after the sudden departure of Travis Frederick, who earned Pro Bowl honors in each of the last five seasons he’s played.
It’s easy to take Frederick for granted because we just didn’t hear much about him last year. However, if you’re an offensive lineman and nobody is talking about you, that’s probably a very good thing. Make no mistake about it - Frederick, full strength or not, is the real deal.
Travis Frederick allowed 1 sack on 415 pass blocking plays in 2019.— Paul Hembekides (@PaulHembo) March 24, 2020
35% of Ezekiel Elliott's career TD (14 of 40) have been on rushes up the middle behind Frederick.
Dak Prescott QBR rank
2016-17, 2019 (3rd)
(Frederick missed the 2018 season)
An enormous loss.
Not only that, but the Cowboys went from second worst in sacks allowed (56) in 2018 to second best (23) last season. That is a significant turn around.
The loss of Frederick had some people wanting the Cowboys to draft a center early to keep their offensive line unit as strong as possible. Dallas, in keeping true to their best player available approach, didn’t have their hand forced by the Frederick shakeup in their offensive line personnel. Instead, they took one of the best offensive playmakers in the draft in wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, and fans everywhere are extremely thankful for that.
While the explosiveness of this offense is certainly something we can’t wait to see in action, their effectiveness is dependent on the big men up front doing the blocking. It’s important to ensure the line is up to the task to exploit the full riches of their offensive talent. The front office understands that, and this could explain why they just had to make a move for Biadasz.
After surgery on an AC joint of his shoulder kept him out of the combine, concerns about his health inevitably impacted his draft stock, but it worked out in the Cowboys favor as it was just enough to keep the Badger center within striking distance. And while he may not be the flashiest player from this year’s list of center prospects, he’s definitely one of the most consistent. Year after year, Biadasz has graded out well.
Dallas lands Tyler Biadasz— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 25, 2020
2017: 82.3 (3rd)
2018: 86.7 (2nd)
2019: 82.9 (3rd)
A top-three center for three straight seasons. pic.twitter.com/tnygnfBMou
The Cowboys offensive line group is sitting in great shape. While there is still a lot to work out, the depth for this group is really good, thanks largely in part by the moves the team has made over the last year. Let’s recap:
- right tackle locked down after signing La’el Collins to a five-year extension
- center depth solidified by bringing veteran Joe Looney back on cheap, short-term deals
- backup/potential starting interior OL with third-round pick Connor McGovern
- swing tackle possibly found in undrafted free agent Brandon Knight
Right now, we don’t know who’s going to be this teams starting center. Maybe it’s Looney, or maybe McGovern shows why the team couldn’t resist passing up on him a year ago. Or maybe this quiet, smart, consistent performing rookie can come in and establish himself as the team’s new man in the middle. The Cowboys certainly see something in him to jump out of character and give away extra draft capital to land him, and if history is any evidence, it’s going to work out nicely.