The NFL draft is right around the corner May 8-10 and before we dive more into the Cowboys’ needs and what direction they might go with their selections, we’re going to take a step back and review.
So, how did the Cowboys get here? How has America’s Team remained stuck in mediocrity the last decade? Some of the blame can be traced to how the team has drafted players. We’ll continue today by taking a look back at each of the Cowboys’ last five draft classes, reviewing the overall impact of each class and if each pick that year was a bust (D or below, if you prefer grades), fair (B-C) or good (A).
In 2013, the Cowboys made seven picks. They had the 18 overall pick in the draft but traded down and selected Wisconsin center Travis Frederick 31 overall. The Cowboys surprised many when they selected tight end Gavin Escobar in the second round. They looked close to home in the third round, drafting Baylor receiver Terrance Williams, who played his high school football in Dallas. Three of the Cowboys’ final four picks in 2013 were defensive players.
Here’s a look at each of the Cowboys’ seven players selected in the 2013 draft:
First round: C Travis Frederick
How he fared: Travis Frederick proved he was more than just a beard during his rookie season. Frederick was the only draft pick in 2013 to be named to the Pro Football Writers of America’s all-rookie team. He deserved the praise. Frederick started at center for the Cowboys last year and provided an immediate upgrade, helping to stave off interior pass-rushes and keep quarterback Tony Romo upright.
How he rates: Good. Fredrick has his limitations, but he’s a player who should be around for several years in the middle of the Cowboys’ offensive line.
Second round: TE Gavin Escobar
How he fared: Escobar didn’t factor into the Cowboys’ offense as much as Dallas coaches and officials said he would before the start of 2013. He finished his rookie season with only nine catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns.
How he rates: Fair. Escobar figures to get many more chances in 2014. But, of course, the Cowboys said that before his rookie season and it never materialized. Escobar’s strength is his ability to get open downfield and catch the football. For him to finish with only nine catches and his longest going for just 25 yards, that was a major disappointment. But the jury is still out on Escobar. He will have to show he can become a more consistent blocker to increase his playing time in 2014.
Third round: WR Terrance Williams
How he fared: Williams gave the Cowboys an immediate upgrade at their No. 3 receiver position in 2013. Williams finished his rookie season with 44 catches for 736 yards and five touchdowns.
How he rates: Good. Williams had his hiccups early in his rookie season, but he developed into a consistent threat in the passing game and should only get better in his second season in the league. He’s expected to become a full-time starter for the Cowboys in 2014 after the club released veteran receiver Miles Austin.
Third round: S J.J. Wilcox
How he fared: Wilcox began the season as a starting safety for the Cowboys alongside Barry Church. He was inconsistent at safety as a starter and eventually lost his starting job to undrafted rookie free agent Jeff Heath after he missed three games with a sprained right knee. Heath started five games for the Cowboys as a rookie, finishing with 44 tackles and only one pass defended.
How he rates: Fair. Wilcox showed quickly that he’s a hard hitter who will play physical, but he will have to work on his ball skills and become a more consistent player. Considering he started right away for the Cowboys, a fair grade is fair thus far.
Fourth round: CB B.W. Webb
How he fared: Webb struggled in coverage early and often during his rookie season, finishing with only 13 tackles and one pass defended.
How he rates: Bust. Webb didn’t provide much impact as a rookie and had only four tackles on special teams.
Fifth round: RB Joseph Randle
How he fared: Randle actually started two games for the Cowboys during his rookie season. He never developed as expected, but he contributed. He finished with 164 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 54 carries and eight receptions for 61 yards. His longest run from scrimmage was 19 yards.
How he rates: Fair. For a fifth-round pick, Randle gave the Cowboys another option in the backfield. Though he never developed into a player who pushed for the backup running back spot, he showed potential and provides some intrigue going forward.
Sixth round: LB DeVonte Holloman
How he fared: Holloman ended up starting the Cowboys’ final two games as a rookie after missing seven consecutive games with a spine contusion he suffered during a practice. Holloman played in nine games for the Cowboys as a rookie, finishing with 28 tackles and two sacks.
How he rates: Fair. Holloman showed his potential in the Cowboys’ last game of 2013. Starting against Philadelphia, Holloman had 11 tackles and two sacks. He should factor much more into the Cowboys’ defensive plans in 2014.
Fair. With only one bust among seven picks last year, the Cowboys’ 2013 draft class has to at least be graded as fair so far. Of course much more will be determined on the final grade of this draft class over the next three seasons. But Frederick should be a reliable starter at center for several years and Williams should only get better with more playing time in 2014. Escobar is expected to get more opportunities in 2014, and Cowboys fans should know quickly whether he was worth a second-round pick. Wilcox and Holloman showed their potential last season and if they take a step forward in 2014, the grade for the 2013 draft class should improve to ‘Good.’
On Twitter: @DMN_george
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