After none of the elite offensive lineman fell to their 18th pick, the Cowboys decided to trade back 13 spots and pick up an extra third-rounder. Usually a team would get a second-round pick from such a trade, so the compensation the team received was slightly questionable even in a weaker draft. Their pick was just as questionable and many in the media thought it may have been the worst first-round pick of the draft. Chris Tripodi breaks down how Dallas fared on draft day.
Travis Frederick/C/Wisconsin (Round 1/Pick #31): While we had Frederick ranked higher than many other outlets, we still had him as just a second-round selection. That makes this pick a reach since centers are rarely given a first-round grade, especially when comparable players like Barrett Jones and Brian Schwenke weren’t taken until the 4th round. With that being said, Frederick is a powerful run blocker who will likely start immediately on a Dallas offensive line that needs help. He isn’t the most agile lineman and needs to improve his balance, but his ability to work with teammates and get to the second level will allow him to have an impact this season.
Gavin Escobar/TE/San Diego State (Round 2/Pick #47): Jason Witten is just 31 and shows no signs of slowing down, making this another interesting pick for Dallas. Escobar is an athletic, pass-catching tight end who can produce in a backup role but with Witten under contract for another five years, he’s unlikely to start anytime soon. This pick likely stemmed from Tony Romo’s overreliance on Witten and Dez Bryant last season with Miles Austin unable to stay healthy. Escobar will give Romo another weapon in the passing game but he timed poorly at the combine (4.84) and may be more of an underneath threat, especially while he develops a somewhat raw skill set in his first few seasons.
Terrance Williams/WR/Baylor (Round 3/Pick #74): Dallas obviously felt a need to add more skill players on offense and by drafting Williams, they were able to add a talented player and a potential starter if Miles Austin continues to struggle with injuries. Many questioned whether Williams could repeat his solid junior season without Robert Griffin III but he actually elevated his game as a senior with 97 receptions, 1,832 yards and 12 touchdowns. Williams has good size (6-2, 208) and speed (4.5) so while he isn’t a true deep threat, he has proven ability to make plays down the field. He needs to work on his route-running but playing behind Austin and Dez Bryant should give him the opportunity to refine his game before possibly replacing Austin in the starting lineup if the veteran leaves next offseason.
J.J. Wilcox/S/Georgia Southern (Round 3/Pick #80): Wilcox is a developmental prospect with just one year as a safety under his belt, so it’s not surprising that defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson said he was “light years away” from starting at the NFL level during rookie camp. A converted running back, Wilcox is a hard-hitting prospect with good range and solid ball skills as a former offensive player. He’s still inefficient and needs to work on taking better routes and angles to the action, but that’s to be expected from a player with his level of experience. He adds experience as a returner to his value and Wilcox has the upside to be an NFL starter, but he will need to learn quickly to help Dallas as anything more than a special teamer this season.
B.W. Webb/CB/Williams & Mary (Round 4/Pick #114): After drafting a small-school safety with their second 3rd-round pick, Dallas took a small-school cornerback with their 4th rounder. Webb was rarely challenged by opposing quarterbacks in college after making 8 interceptions his freshman season and even at just 5-10, 184 pounds, he plays a physical game with receivers and against the run. He has the speed and instincts to be a very good nickel cornerback and, like J.J. Wilcox, is an experienced returner at the college level. Webb should make an impact right away behind Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr in the Dallas secondary and be one of the team’s key rookies this season.
Joseph Randle/RB/Oklahoma State (Round 5/Pick #151): Randle’s statistics at Oklahoma State were very impressive as he turned in consecutive 1,200-yard seasons with double-digit touchdowns. Those numbers overstate his ability as a runner though, as he fails to stand out in any physical aspect of the game but Randle has great vision and instincts, plays bigger than his size (6-0, 204) and shows skill both as a receiver and a blocker in third-down situations. That third-down ability may forecast his ultimate future in the NFL as a straight-line runner with average size and speed doesn’t project to be much of a starter. Randle will replace Felix Jones as the backup to DeMarco Murray and considering Murray’s injury history, may actually find himself in a starting role at some point this season.
DeVonte Holloman/LB/South Carolina (Round 6/Pick #185): A productive player at South Carolina, Holloman is a sure tackler in the running game and a forceful blitzer. His below-average skills in coverage will be a limiting factor to his NFL potential and his lack of quickness hinders his ability to be effective in anything but a straight line. Holloman has enough skill to be a special teamer and situation player at the NFL level, but will struggle to see the field unless he improves in coverage.
Grade: D+. Many blamed Dallas’ struggles last season on Tony Romo but without his efforts, the Cowboys likely wouldn’t have been in position to win as many games as they could have last season. Jerry Jones made it a point to get him some help along the line and on the outside in the draft, but besides Williams those picks came at questionable value to the team. Even that pick can be questioned though, with a fringe first-round talent like Keenan Allen still on the board. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Cowboys draft this season, but productive careers from Travis Frederick and J.J. Wilcox could boost this grade slightly higher a few years down the line.