Too Little Too Late
Decent NFL draft won't be enough to lead Dallas Cowboys to Super Bowl
The reality of the 2013 NFL draft is that we don’t know yet. You can read draft grades, listen to expert analysis, and watch television blowhards for three weeks straight and still be uncertain about which team had the best draft.
The draft is an event no one fully understands, but that’s what makes it so fun. There is always the chance that Tom Brady falls to your team in the sixth round. Less than 10 years ago, 23 teams passed on the chance to draft Super Bowl champion and league MVP Aaron Rodgers.
Some things, however, remain consistent. Good teams like Baltimore, New England and Pittsburgh always seem to make solid picks that are considered a great value for where they are taken in the draft. Whether you like the player or not, most people agree it is a good place in the draft to take them.
Then you have the Dallas Cowboys.
Jerry Jones loves to make a splash, and he loves to take risks. That may be a good mantra in the entrepreneurial world, but in the NFL draft, it often leads to disaster. A draft manager needs to be a scientist, not a salesman. He needs to take the gobs of information being delivered by scouts and assistants and decide which draft move makes the most sense.
Jones is more of the idea person, throwing out scenarios that might work. But he needs the yang to his yin to make the smartest choice.
The point isn’t whether or not you like the players the Cowboys took in the 2013 draft; what matters is if Dallas got all they could from it. Travis Frederick may end up anchoring the offensive line for a decade. If he goes to several Pro-Bowls and keeps Tony Romo upright, he was worth the pick.
Imagine, though, if the Cowboys could have had both Shariff Floyd and Kendrick? That’s what the good NFL teams do; they seem to find a player who shouldn’t have still been there. The Cowboys have made no secret that they are trying to win a championship with Tony Romo at quarterback. To do that, the team needed to shore up some glaring weaknesses in their lineup.
The Cowboys desperately needed help on the offensive and defensive lines, and they needed safety help. They also needed a back-up running back and a third wide receiver. Here is what they got:
First round: Travis Frederick, center, Wisconsin
Much has been made already about the Cowboys reaching for Frederick in the first round. No one had a first-round grade on him, and the Cowboys didn’t take Shariff Floyd, a defensive tackle who some had as a top five pick, or Eric Reid, who was the playmaking safety everyone thought Dallas needed.
It’s simple, Frederick has to start and be a solid lineman for years in order for people to forgive this pick. If he struggles and Floyd or Reid dominate, this is going to get ugly.
Second round: Gavin Escobar, tight end, San Diego State
Escobar is a tall, pass-catching tight end with terrific hands. The Cowboys see him as a complement to Jason Witten, but considering Witten’s age, he might be the heir to the tight end position. He’s a solid pick, but considering this is a team looking to make the Super Bowl, Escobar is more of a luxury pick that Dallas couldn’t afford.
Third round: Terrance Williams, wide receiver, Baylor
Williams fills a need at receiver for the Cowboys. Chances are he will be placed on the outside while Miles Austin moves inside. This choice will be scrutinized because this is the one that Dallas picked up from the 49ers for the first-round trade. Will Frederick and Williams be a more productive duo than Shariff Floyd or Eric Reid? Only time will tell.
Third round: J.J. Wilcox, safety, Georgia Southern
Wilcox is one of the few Dallas picks that gets universal praise. He fills a need and is considered a great value in the third round.
Forth round: B.W. Webb, cornerback, William and Mary
You can never have too many defensive backs. No one knows anything about Webb, but if he can start as a nickel corner, then he is valuable. The one issue is that the Cowboys passed on two highly regarded running backs, Jonathan Franklin and Marcus Lattimore, to get Webb.
Fifth round: Joseph Randle, running back, Oklahoma State
The Cowboys needed a running back, and now they have one. Randle is one DeMarco Murray injury away from being pressed into duty.
Sixth round: Devonte Holloman, linebacker, South Carolina
Not a needed position, but by this point in the draft, you’re just looking for athletes.
Overall, the Cowboys made some solid moves and some not-so-solid moves. They may have found some interesting players, but there is not enough talent to cover up the deficiencies at several positions.
Dallas needed an outstanding draft to compete with the NFC heavyweights in the playoffs, and they didn't get it. Plus they helped conference rival San Francisco by giving a bargain trade in the first round. This is not a championship team, and by the end of the season, expect the Super Bowl window to close a little more during the Tony Romo era.