Under head coach Wade Phillips, the Dallas Cowboys didn’t produce the best draft classes.
Quite frankly, they were awful, especially the 2008 draft class. Wade didn’t stay around much longer after 2008. Wade Phillips was fired after a loss against in Green Bay two years later and Jason Garrett took over. As we know, the Cowboys went 6-10 and missed the playoffs. Jason Garrett took over and the drafting and scouting of college players suddenly changed. If we fast forward a few years to the 2013 draft, we really see just how much times have changed. Few actually realize how much talent came from 2013 draft class. I’ll review the draft class for you just to put it into perspective.
Round 1 Pick 31 (After Trade with SF): Travis Frederick, C, Wisconsin.
There were very few Cowboys fans that were excited when the Cowboys selected Travis Frederick. I’ll be the first to tell you that I was not excited when Frederick was picked. The knock on Frederick coming out of Wisconsin was “un-athletic and unable to get to second level”. A lot of people, including myself didn’t realize that Travis would play an intricate part in the building of this massive Offensive Line. Travis was a plug in play player and he’s become one of the best Centers in the NFL. Not only is he a great run blocker, he’s a great pass blocker, which is rare for most centers. Grade: A+
Round 2 Pick 15 (Overall 47): Gavin Escobar, TE, San Diego State
Now, this draft pick threw everyone off. Jason Witten is arguably the greatest Tight End to ever play in the NFL. The Cowboys have tried to go with 2 tight ends before (Anthony Fasano in 2006 and Martellus Bennett in 2008), but it never works. It doesn’t work because Jason Witten never comes off the field. Jason Witten is the vanilla NFL Tight End. He catches the ball and he blocks well. The current crop of NFL tight ends have become receiver-like and less Witten-like. So when the Cowboys made this selection, everyone was confused. Escobar is the complete opposite of Witten when it comes to playing style. Witten excels at catching and blocking, while Escobar is primarily a pass catching Tight End. Escobar caught a few touchdowns in 2014 and now the plan is for him to turn into a Dez Bryant type option in the redzone. The jury is still out on this Escobar pick, so I can’t say the Cowboys got it right or wrong.
Round 3 Pick 12 (Overall 74): Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor
Miles Austin was injury prone while making the most money at receiver. Dallas drafted Terrance Williams out of Baylor to be the receiver to play opposite Dez Bryant. Terrance caught 46 passes for 736 yards and 5 touchdowns in his rookie season. Terrance’s 2014 season would produce less numbers and at certain points during the season, he would “disappear” from the game plan. With Terrance sort of phased out, we saw a lot more Cole Beasley. Terrance has to win his 1-on-1 battles like Beasley does so Romo can get him the ball. Jason Garrett and company got it right with this pick as well.
Round 3 Pick 18 (Overall 80): J.J. Wilcox, S, Georgia Southern
The Cowboys have been searching for safety help since 2003 when Darren Woodson retired and they’ve never been able to find it. Guys like Pat Watkins, Alan Ball, Gerald Sensabaugh and Abe Elam all have attempted to fill the void at safety over the years. The Cowboys took J.J. Wilcox in the 3rd round from a small school. J.J. played Wide Receiver for 3 years in college and only played 1 year of safety. In his final year of college, J.J. had 88 tackles, two interceptions and three pass break ups. That was good enough for the Cowboys to spend a 3rd round pick on him. I think Wilcox still needs more improvement seeing that the 2015 season will only be his 3rd season as a safety. It looks shaky because he’s inexperience at safety, but I think the Cowboys picked a good player.
Round 4 Pick 17 (114 Overall): B.W. Webb, CB, William & Mary
If you were really into the 2013 Draft and its prospects, you would’ve known who B.W. Webb was. B.W. was automatically put at a disadvantage because he came from a small school that didn’t produce a lot of NFL level talent. It was obvious that B.W. was undersized and underweight to play out of the slot in the Cowboys’ defense. Webb’s most “memorable” moment came in a game against the Chicago Bears when Bears WR, Alshon Jeffery caught a pass in the back of the endzone over Webb. Coaches benched B.W. in favor of Sterling Moore in November of 2013. Webb rarely saw the field after that and he’d eventually get released 9 months later in favor of undrafted cornerback, Tyler Patmon. The Cowboys definitely got it wrong with this pick.
Round 5 Pick 18 (151 Overall): Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State
DeMarco Murray was the starter in 2013, but the Cowboys felt they needed a backup running back, so they selected Joseph Randle out of Oklahoma State. Fast forward 2 years and now DeMarco is gone and Joseph Randle has the chance to be the starting running back. Some people don’t want to put all their trust into Randle because he’s had 2 incidents off the field. I’m putting my trust in Randle because I feel that he can be a workhorse back and carry the load. Randle was the backup behind Murray but in his limited time, Randle showed us what he could do. He finished the 2014 season with 51 carries, 343 yards and 3 touchdowns while averaging 6.7 yards per carry. If Randle can stop being a knucklehead and hit his holes, Randle can be a 1300 yard running back. I think the Cowboys got it right with this pick and the upcoming season will prove me right.
Round 6 Pick 17 (185 Overall): DeVonte Holloman, LB, South Carolina
Holloman was more athletic than the prototypical 3-4 MLB, but in his few starts, he produced. The first sign of Holloman’s skill came in the Hall of Fame game against the Miami Dolphins when Holloman intercepted a pass from Matt Moore and returned it 75 yards for a touchdown. Due to injuries to the other Linebackers, Holloman would start 3 games towards the end of the 2013 season. His best game came against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday Night Football. Holloman registered 11 tackles and 2 sacks in his game against the Eagles. As we know, the Cowboys would lose that Week 17 game against the Eagles, but things looked good for Holloman. The 2014 preseason begins and Holloman doesn’t realize that he’s on the verge of playing the last football game of his life. Holloman suffered a neck injury in the 4th quarter of a preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens. It was revealed that Holloman was diagnosed with a narrow spinal column. Doctors suggested that Holloman retire so that he can live life normally and Holloman wisely took their advice. DeVonte Holloman had the chance to be the steal of the 2013 draft, but sadly injuries cut his career short.
Out of these 7 draft picks, only 5 are still around with the Cowboys, and they all have the chance to be starters in 2015. Travis Frederick, Terrance Williams and J.J. Wilcox are already starters, while Randle and Escobar both have the chance to be starters at their respective positions. This is shaping up to be one of the best draft classes in Cowboys history. Let’s hope that they continue to succeed when it comes to picking talent.