For the last 3 years, I have railed on the Cowboys for not drafting offensive line help. And yet, I hate the pick. Worse, I hate the strategy. The value the Cowboys received in landing an extra 3rd round pick by trading back from 18 to 31 was awful, but we’ll get to that later in the day. For now let’s focus on the pick itself:
1. Travis Frederick’s physical measurables are terrible.
At the 2013 Combine, he ran a 5.58 40 time. Only one player was slower. And not only is he slow, but he only did 21 reps on the bench press. That was worst among centers in this draft. To be fair, just because a player tests well at the Combine doesn’t mean he’s going to be a good football player. Conversely, players who test poorly aren’t automatically destined for failure.
However, there is something to be said for the Combine, and players with measuarables as bad as Frederick’s aren’t going to have much upside. What you see is what you’re going to get, and not much more.
2. Centers can be found late in the draft.
Of course, that statement can be made for almost any position and I think it sounds foolish when people apply it to Tom Brady, but I think it applies heavily to RBs and centers. For example, who are the 5 best centers in the NFL, and the 5 worst? I can’t answer that since I haven’t evaluated them all, and while I hate to do this, I’ll use ProFootballFocus’ 2012 rankings as a crutch. Note the draft positions of each grouping of the Top 5:
And the Bottom 5:
Only 1 of the top 5 was drafted before the 6th round. Three of the bottom 5 went in the 2nd round or higher. I can understand using a high pick on one of the Pouncey brothers, who had outstanding game tape, but for a big-bodied anchor guy with a lot of tenacity, but extremely minimal room for growth? Those players are a dime a dozen.
3. Is it really a “safe pick?”
I’ve seen the argument made that this is a “safe pick,” in that while Frederick’s ceiling may be low, his floor is high. What that means is that Frederick may not ever be a physical athletic marvel, but he is almost guaranteed to be at least a serviceable starter. Why? Is there any reason to come to the conclusion that there’s no chance he’ll be a complete and total bust? Why is it a “safe pick?”
4. His game film is OK, but nothing special.
Here are two games that DraftBreakdown.com cut up of Frederick. Minus good measurables, you would expect to see a dominant player on game tape. In fairness, these two games are I have to work with (I’d prefer to see more), but with what is provided here, this was not anything remotely close to a dominant player at the collegiate level:
Travis Frederick will upgrade the Cowboys’ offensive line. From Day 1, he’ll be better than Phil Costa, who simply couldn’t hold his ground against stronger DTs. Frederick will anchor well in pass pro, and he’ll be better in the run game. He also could potentially play some guard. He may even go on to have a good NFL career.
But being better than Phil Costa or Nate Livings isn’t good enough for a 1st round pick.
Frederick’s limited upside, the value of the center position, the player’s underwhelming game tape, and the fact that there isn’t even some kind of magical guarantee that it’s a “safe pick” makes this a terrible use of resources, especially when the Cowboys could have gotten an impact player at 18.