A lot of the NFL Draft community went crazy when the Dallas Cowboys selected Wisconsin’s Travis Frederick in the first round. While this pick might have been a bit of a reach, everybody in Cowboy nation needs to know this is a player who’ll have an immediate impact.
Worst picks: EJ Manuel to the Bills. Sheldon Richardson to the Jets. Travis Frederick to the Cowboys.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) April 26, 2013
Frederick was the top-rated center on most boards. He’s a multi-talented player who can both hold up in pass protection and open running lanes. The Cowboys made this pick in order to help Tony Romo run a more consistent offensive attack.
Last season, the Cowboys offensive line allowed 36 sacks and many more quarterback pressures. This number is much lower than it should be thanks to Romo’s ability to evade the pass rush. However, every time Romo was flushed out of the pocket it disrupted the timing of the offense.
A lot of the protection breakdowns came from the interior of the offensive line. The combination of Nate Livings, Phil Costa, Ryan Cook and Mackenzy Bernadeau never found a way to stabilize that part of the line. The below image is just one example of how that pressure in the face of the quarterback can cause problems.
Frederick is a polished prospect who will step in and improve the overall play of the unit. He has a strong anchor with a wide base and balance. The fact he keeps his head on a swivel allows him to react to stunts and blitzes. The image below shows Frederick with inside hands, good balance and keeping pressure out of the quarterback’s face.
An established and successful ground game is another way to help a quarterback. Last year, the Cowboys finished the season 31st in the league in rushing yards with a total of 1,265 yards. This is another area that will be improved by the addition of Frederick.
First, Frederick is going to help increase the nastiness of the unit. He’s a physical player who plays to the whistle. This clip shows Frederick driving a defender several yards down the field and finishing it off with a pancake block.
His run-blocking ability doesn’t only consist of power, as Frederick also does a good job climbing to the second level. He has the quickness off the ball, awareness to locate a linebacker and balance to engage and seal. This ability to take linebackers out of the play helps produce long runs. The image below is example of Frederick laying this type of block.
Fact is, the Cowboys did reach by selecting Frederick in the first round. However, it’s important to look at several factors before judging this pick. Above I broke down the on-field help he’ll provide, but the Cowboys’ draft management is also key.
Dallas started draft night with the 18th pick. They traded down with the San Francisco 49ers, which netted them the 31st pick and an extra third-rounder. The Cowboys ended up landing Frederick and Terrence Williams with those picks.
Adding that extra pick must be factored in when looking at the Frederick selection. Dallas was able to secure a player they obviously loved in Frederick and also brought in another offensive weapon. Everyone should be able to look past the value aspect of the pick because the Cowboys already traded down.
I’m sure Jerry Jones considered pulling the trigger on Frederick at No. 18, but he found a way to move down and still get his man.
This Cowboys team will only go as far as Romo can lead them. Jerry Jones and company shouldn’t be criticized for doing what they can to surround him with talent.