Dallas Cowboys Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell
June 6, 2013

Solid Starter

Travis Frederick, C, Wisconsin – Round 1
There were a number of reaches in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, but none was larger than the Cowboys reaching for Frederick at the end of the first round. Dallas rated Frederick as the No. 22 player on its board whil other teams had him much lower. Franchises don’t typically reveal where they have players on their draft boards, so it feels like the Cowboys were trying to do their best to justify and sell the pick.

Regardless of Frederick being a reach, he was considered the top center in the 2013 Draft, and Dallas had to improve the interior of its offensive line. The inside of the team’s line was awful last year, leaving Tony Romo with consistent pressure coming straight down the pocket. Frederick should be able to step in and be an upgrade for the Cowboys at guard or center.

Frederick just moved to center in 2012. The redshirt junior wasn’t as dominant there as he was at guard in 2011, but he still had his second straight good season as a run-blocker for Montee Ball. Frederick had an excellent 2011 season as a run-blocker for Ball and a pass-protector for Russell Wilson. Frederick, Peter Konz and Kevin Zeitler formed a dynamic interior that was dominant at the point of attack. Frederick spent 2011 as a road-grading guard who would push around defensive linemen. He dropped weight to play center last year and seemed to lose some of the power that he displayed the previous season.

WalterFootball.com reached out to sources at multiple teams and they all came back with the same grade. Everyone had Frederick in their pool of players for late in the second round or early in the third round; basically, a full round below where the Cowboys took Frederick.

Frederick could turn into a solid starter for the Cowboys despite where he was graded out by others. There were better players available but Frederick should help Dallas in 2013, and I think he could be a solid starter over the long run.

Most Likely To Bust

Gavin Escobar, TE, San Diego State – Round 2
Dallas took Escobar in the second round to serve as a complement to Jason Witten. The Cowboys didn’t have a screaming need for another tight end, so it was surprising that they used the pick on Escobar when they could have addressed their defense.

Escobar (6-6, 254) entered the 2013 NFL Draft early after two solid seasons for San Diego State. The junior caught 42 passes for 543 yards and six touchdowns last year. He had even better production as a sophomore with 51 receptions for 780 yards and seven touchdowns. Escobar has good size and does a nice job of working the middle seam.

The reason that I could see Escobar being a bust is a lack of speed. The Combine put a halt to his rising draft stock when he ran extremely slowly in the 40-yard dash. That time verified the lack of speed I saw in watching tape of Escobar games. He was superb against zone coverage, but was unable to get separation in man coverage. Escobar can use his size to make catches over defenders when covered, but I think he could struggle to get open in the NFL.

Escobar may be a solid backup tight end and run-blocker, but I don’t think he is going to be the long-term replacement for Witten. Using a top-50 pick on a situational tight end isn’t good value from a draft perspective.

Potential Boom Pick

Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor – Round 3
Late in the 2012 season and into January of 2013, Williams was considered to be a potential first-round pick. He had a prolific senior season for Baylor and resoundingly proved he could produce without Robert Griffin III as his quarterback. Williams led the nation in receiving yardage in 2012 with 1,832 yards on 97 receptions with 12 touchdowns.

Williams set Big XII records with 17 receptions for 314 yards and two touchdowns against West Virginia. He made tough catches in the short to intermediate part of the field, but also made long catches downfield. Williams’ deep speed was surprising, but it doesn’t look like he will be a true deep threat receiver against the faster defensive backs of the NFL. Williams had an underwhelming performance at the Senior Bowl and was solid but unimpressive at the Combine. His draft projection fell as a result.

The Cowboys were a great landing spot for Williams. If the 6-foot-1, 201-pound rookie can beat out Dwayne Harris, he could initially be a perfect No. 3 receiver behind Dez Bryant and Miles Austin. Many believe Williams will eventually supplant Austin as the starter opposite Bryant. Austin has had injuries and could prove too expensive to keep. Williams should be in position to see a lot of single coverage with a potential superstar like Bryant commanding double-teams. Williams thrived in that role for Baylor in 2011 on the other side from Kendall Wright.

It might take a little time, but Williams could end up being a boom pick for the Cowboys and one of the better No. 2 receivers in the league. That would be excellent value from a third-round pick.

Future Depth Player

Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma – Round 5
It made a lot of sense for the Cowboys to draw on the good depth in the running back class in the mid-rounds. Starter DeMarco Murray has played well, but has dealt with a lot of injuries. Veteran Felix Jones left in free agency, so Dallas needed some depth in the backfield in case Murray goes down again. Randle was a quality value in the fifth round and had the talent to have been selected earlier.

Randle averaged 5.2 yards per carry in 2012 on his way to 1,417 yards and 14 touchdowns. The junior picked up 28 receptions for 224 yards as well. He averaged 5.9 yards per carry with 1,216 yards rushing and 24 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2011. The sophomore chipped in with 43 receptions for 266 yards and two scores, too.

The 6-foot-1, 200-pound back has good speed and the frame to add another 10-20 pounds for the NFL. He has quickness to get to the next level and does a nice job as receiver in the open field. Randle could be a nice back for the passing game in the Cowboys’ West Coast offense. He has some nice upside to develop for Dallas and he looks like a good backup for Murray in the short term.

2013 NFL Draft Individual Grades:

Travis Frederick!?!? The Wisconsin lineman who was considered a third-round prospect? There were other reaches in the first round, but this takes the cake. It seems like the Cowboys panicked with all of the guards flying off the board, which is the worst thing you can ever do in the NFL Draft. It’s never been more obvious that Dallas needs a real general manager.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

47. Gavin Escobar, TE, San Diego State: D Grade
Jerruh sure loves his third-round prospects. Gavin Escobar belonged in the third frame. Even worse, he doesn’t fill a need. The Cowboys have so many defensive issues, especially considering that they’re moving into a new 4-3, that it’s a big head-scratcher that they haven’t addressed their stop unit yet.

74. Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor: B+ Grade
Terrance Williams’ stock has fallen over the pre-draft process; he was once considered a first-round possibility. This should probably be the right range for him, so this is a rare quality pick for Dallas, as Miles Austin-Jones won’t be around much longer.

80. J.J. Wilcox, S, Georgia Southern: B+ Grade
It’s funny that Dallas’ third-round picks could be considered better players than the guys they obtained in the first and second rounds. J.J. Wilcox fills a big need at safety and could have easily gone a bit earlier than this.

114. B.W. Webb, CB, William & Mary: B+ Grade
Once again, Dallas’ later players are better than their earlier ones. Some viewed B.W. Webb as a late second-round prospect, so this is very good value. The Cowboys had to add a corner, as they had just four of them on the roster.

151. Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State: A- Grade
This is a pretty solid pick. I feel like Joseph Randle should have gone earlier than this. The Cowboys were desperate for a second running back with Felix Jones gone, as DeMarco Murray is too injury-prone.

185. DeVonte Holloman, OLB, South Carolina: B+ Grade
Finally, a front-seven piece for Monte Kiffin’s defense. It’s not the defensive lineman that Dallas sorely has to acquire, but DeVonte Holloman fills the need for depth. I thought he’d go a bit earlier than this.

2013 NFL Draft Team Grade: C . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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