In recent years, the Dallas Cowboys have not been at the top of the class when it comes to choosing players in the draft, and heading into the 2013 NFL Draft there were no indications to suggest they might turn things around.
Entering the 2013 offseason $20 million over the salary cap was the first red flag. Luckily after restructuring some contracts and releasing a few players, they put themselves in a better situation at $5 million under the cap.
The release of Marcus Spears will net $2 million more come June 1 and depending on what happens with Doug Free considering a pay cut (saving $7 million) or a release, Dallas could be looking at nearly $14 million to sign all their draft picks.
All they needed at that point was a solid draft and I think they got it, to an extent.
Starting off with the 18th pick was a tough position to be in, mainly because this season’s draft was very top heavy and the impact talent began to diminish around pick No. 15.
They were hoping for a few offensive and defensive linemen to fall but after seeing the players they wanted go in the top ten (Chance Warmack OT, Alabama/Jonathon Cooper DT, North Carolina) Dallas traded their pick to the San Francisco 49ers for their 1st and 3rd rounder’s (31st and 47th overall).
This was somewhat of a shocker for experts and fans alike. Many were up in arms about their rationale for picking a Center in the first round that was not really considered to go until the third round.
Much of the criticism came from not choosing Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd when he fell to No. 18 after some projected him as high as the top five.
“It’s never going to be popular when you move down,” said VP of Operations Stephen Jones. “To me, you don’t play for the hoopla. You’ve got to manage your draft, and we felt like the best decision for us when certain players were off the board was to go down and do the right thing and pick up a pick, which we needed, and take a player that fits for what we need in the first round.”
My translation to this: Dallas felt their needs on the defensive line could not be met with those left on the board. Perhaps it is an area they actually feel strong at. They like their veterans Jay Ratliff and Jason hatcher, and promising younger players Sean Lissemore and Tyrone Crawford, and since they are switching to the 4-3 defense there must not have been anyone left they felt fit the scheme so they decided to fill other needs.
Disregarding what everyone else had to say about how they did, I’ve taken the time to grade their overall draft, given their pre-draft necessities (G, S, DT, C, RB). I rated each pick based on position needs, player potential, and value for where in the draft each player was taken.
The Dallas Cowboys 2013 Draft:
Round 1: Pick 31 (31st overall) Travis Fredrick, C, Wisconson
This pick is difficult to analyze. A 3rd round graded player at No. 31?! I mean how can you not hammer them for this pick? Here’s how: he fills a huge void in the middle of the line. They needed a Center and they got one of the best in the draft. Last week I wrote a piece about Romo and the pressure he faces up the middle. Fredrick could be a tremendous upgrade in the middle of that line and help Romo stay cool in the pocket. Bust or brute, he will be the starter and Dallas’ draft will likely be defined by his development.
This pick was a head scratcher personally. He didn’t fill a need, but he is flashy, and can catch a pass to boot. The young man has bear claws for hands so he could prove a reliable target for Romo down the road, especially in the red zone. I just don’t understand why he was necessary here when you could have packed the defensive side of the ball. Something tells me two tight end sets with Witten are in the near future. But let’s hope Escobar does better than Anthony Fasano and Martellus Bennett.
Mr. Williams was a marvelous pick at 74th overall. After leading the nation in receiving with 1,832 yards on 97 catches, this 6’2” 208-pound senior is yet another big target with playmaking ability. Despite the fact they didn’t need a wide receiver I really like this pick. He will come in as the number three receiver but Miles Austin better watch out or he may find himself on someone else’s roster in the next couple years.
Round 3: Pick 18 (80th overall) J.J. Wilcox, S, Georgia Southern
Barry Church, Will Allen, and Matt Johnson will all be vying for the starting safety positions. Wilcox is an interesting rookie who is likely to give them all a run for their money. He has good size for a safety at 6’0” and considerable speed. The only question mark is his experience on defense. Before his senior year he played slot receiver. I’m not as concerned with his physical capabilities as I am his mental. Can he be coached up? Considering its Dallas I doubt it but we’ll see.
I have to be honest I don’t know much about him. The Cowboys staff says he is a physical player and can cover both the inside and outside at the slot corner position so he will most likely get his chance to compete against Orlando Scandrick in the offseason to see if he can make the roster as the third cornerback. Since Dallas brought depth to the secondary with two picks in a row I gave this one a decent rating.
At where they selected this young fellow I must say I was pleasantly surprised. An every down back in the 5th round will get a good grade from me any day of the week. It’s all about the value with this one. Randle brings some valuable skill sets to the table. He was very productive at Oklahoma State scoring 14 touchdowns last season and 43 total over the last three. He can catch the ball out of the backfield, he isn’t fumble prone, and when given open space he is explosive. All things I like to hear and certainly an important draft pick with respect to Demarco Murray’s injury problems. I trust he will be ready to go when the opportunity presents itself.
Holloman is a safety converted outside linebacker who in all honesty doesn’t seem like a great pick. I think you see him start as a special team player covering kicks. After watching some film, I must say his pass coverage ability is his strongest asset, but it may take a couple years until we see him competing for that strong-side linebacker spot. Overall I felt they should have done something else with this pick. We may see Holloman cut when Dallas starts filling the roster in August.
Overall Draft Grade: B-
For the most part this draft appeared to be a reach for depth. Last season the team was plagued with injuries and I’m sure they don’t want this season blundered by them again. Outside the top three picks I don’t imagine any of these guys making immediate impacts in their rookie seasons, but until they hit the field we won’t know for sure.
Unfortunately, the past 10 years have shown the Cowboys have a lot of trouble developing talent. They just can’t seem to coach up the players they put on the field.
Can they turn it around this time? Only time will tell. Until then I will play the sad clown, laughing on the outside, crying on the inside.
Edited by: Phillip Ray Guevara