NFL Team Report - Dallas Cowboys - INSIDE SLANT
By all accounts the Cowboys had a very good draft in terms of picks and value.
They got seven players who should all contribute if not start in 2013. All have the capability of earning starting jobs in the future.
Still the draft didn't come without criticism.
It's not about the picks but the process for the Cowboys. And their decisions and strategy in the first round will come under scrutiny for years to come.
The Cowboys started off by bypassing defensive tackle Shariff Floyd in the first round, choosing instead to trade down when he was available with the 18th overall pick.
Floyd was ranked in the top 10 on the team's draft board. If you are going strictly by the process and taking the best value, it was a no-brainer pick to take Floyd.
Owner Jerry Jones made the call to pass on Floyd and trade down in the draft because he wasn't deemed a good fit for the "under" tackle in the 4-3 defense by the coaches.
But the bigger issue is that the Cowboys didn't expect Floyd to be there and weren't prepared when he was.
Jones was focused on addressing the offensive line or safety in the first round. The main targets for those positions -- guards Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper and safety Kenny Vaccaro -- were gone before the 18th pick.
Jones made the call to make a trade to move down in the draft where the Cowboys were initially targeting Syracuse guard/tackle Justin Pugh with the 31st pick they got from the 49ers. The Giants took him at 19.
Jones then was hell bent on getting Wisconsin center Travis Frederick, who they deemed to be the last offensive lineman worthy of the pick and capable of helping them this year. Frederick was a second-round pick and as low as a third-round pick on most other boards but he was a high second-round pick on the Cowboys board.
The Cowboys like Fredrick and believe he will be a quality starter for them for years to come. But it's the process that's in question.
The same is true with the trade with the 49ers.
The Cowboys traded the 18th pick for the 31st pick and a third-round pick, 74th overall. Most trade charts indicated that the Cowboys should have received a second- and third-round pick from the 49ers in the swap of first rounders -- based on value and how many picks the loaded 49ers had to deal.
Even more troubling is that the Cowboys' scouts had done several mock drafts and trade scenarios before the draft and they had them picking up a second- and third-round pick in addition to swapping first-round picks.
Then on draft day, they got snookered and bamboozled by the 49ers into taking a lesser value.
Again the Cowboys like the players they ended up with but the decisions and strategy comes into question. Why even have Floyd on your draft board in the top 10 if he is not a good fit for your defense?
Why go over trade scenarios if you aren't going to hold firm when the deal comes up?
NFL Team Report - Dallas Cowboys - NOTES, QUOTES
--Linebacker Brandon Magee received a $70,000 first-year guarantee from the Cowboys to sign as an undrafted free agent, not a $70,000 signing bonus. He got an actual $5,000 signing bonus and $65,000 of his salary was guaranteed. If he is cut in training camp, the Cowboys will cut him a check for $65,000. If he is cut after the first game, they will cut him a check for the difference.
Clearly the Cowboys don't expect him to be cut. He was a player they had rated as a fourth-round pick on their draft board that they coveted to sign as an undrafted free agent, which is why they gave him the guarantee to sign with them over other teams.
It was similar to what the Cowboys did last year when they gave guard Ron Leary a $214,000 guarantee of his first-year salary to sign as an undrafted free agent.
According to Magee's agent Blake Baratz, the Cowboys were one of the first teams to use a first-year guarantee to entice coveted undrafted free agents to sign with them. It was born out of the rules in the new collective bargaining agreement that limit how much signing bonus teams can give to undrafted free agents.
--Baylor receiver Terrance Williams, Oklahoma State running back Joseph Randle and South Carolina linebacker DeVonte Holloman worked out together before the draft at Athletes Performance in Sanfrancisco. Now they will be working out as teammates together after all being drafted by the Cowboys.
"Know them very well," Holloman said. "Terrance is really cool, and so is Joseph. Me and Joseph talk a lot of junk to each other, so we will finally get to settle it in rookie camp."
Randle said he and Williams grew close in the pre-draft workouts but never thought they would play together.
"We never did, but we were real close, and we're good friends. And this is a dream come true," he said.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Everybody thinks we're, 'Oh, my god, we get to make a trade, let's just move down.' It's not going to be popular when you move down. It wasn't what we were hoping for. You don't play for the hoopla; you can't get into that. You've got to manage your draft, and we felt like the best decision for us when certain players were off the board, was to go down and do the right thing and pick up a pick, which we needed, and take a player that fits for what we need in the first round. That brings a little more value for that pick." -- Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones.
NFL Team Report - Dallas Cowboys - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
A closer look at the Cowboys' picks:
Round 1/31 - Travis Frederick, C, 6-3, 312, Wisconsin
The Cowboys traded down from 18 to 31 after their top early targets were gone and used the pick for Frederick. He was projected to go in the second and as late as the third round. But the Cowboys were higher on him than most and felt he was their last best option to help them upgrade their offensive line. He should walk in and be the starter at center.
Round 2/47 - Gavin Escobar, TE, 6-5, 254, San Diego State
This was a surprise pick considering the Cowboys didn't have a need for a pass-catching tight end with seven-time Pro Bowler Jason Witten coming off the best season of his career. But Escobar was considered among the top three tight ends in the draft. He is a playmaker and will signal change to the two-tight end offense that New England employs. He needs to improve as a run blocker but will be a better red-zone target than Witten.
Round 3/74 - Terrence Williams, WR, 6-2, 210, Baylor
He is a big fast receiver who can stretch the field. Williams, a Dallas native, caught 97 passes for a nation-leading 1,832 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior last season. He had 34 catches of at least 20 yards and 16 that went at least 30. He didn't face much press coverage but he gives the Cowboys another big receiver to go along with Dez Bryant and gives them insurance for the oft-injured Miles Austin.
Round 3/80 - J.J. Wilcox, S, 6-0, 212, Georgia Southern
Upgrading safety was a huge focus coming into the draft because projected starters Barry Church and Matt Johnson are inexperienced and are both coming off injuries. The Cowboys feel better about Church because he is in his fourth year. Johnson didn't even practice as a rookie last year. Wilcox has the athletic ability to play either safety position but he has only played the position one year after switching from receiver as a senior. He has tremendous upside but he is raw.
Round 4/114 - B.W. Webb, CB, 5-10, 184, William and Mary
The Cowboys have three starting cornerbacks in Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne and nickel cornerback Orlando Scandrick. But you can't have too many players at the position and the Cowboys like what Webb brings to the table. He had 11 career interceptions and should be an immediate contributor on special teams.
Round 5/151 - Joseph Randle, RB, 6-0, 204, Oklahoma State
The Cowboys needed a running back because of the injury history of starter DeMarco Murray. They got great value with the productive Randle, who could be this year's version of Alfred Morris. Randle is a versatile back who can help with the running game as well as the pass. Randle rushed for 1,417 yards and 14 touchdowns last season and 1,216 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2011. He also started 31 of 39 games at Oklahoma State, was a valuable receiver, catching 108 balls for 917 yards and three touchdowns.
Round 6/185 -- DeVonte Holloman, LB, 6-1, 243, South Carolina
Holloman was very productive in college, starting 35 of 51 games at South Carolina, with 22 at strong safety and 13 at linebacker. He recorded 57 tackles, two sacks and three interceptions as a senior. Holloman has one black mark on his resume because of a DUI arrest in 2011. But he is a prototypical Sam linebacker and fills a need at the position for the Cowboys.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: LB Anthony Spencer (tendered at $10.627 million; signed tender March 12).
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (6)
--CB Michael Coe was signed late in the season for depth purposes. Will not be re-signed.
--OG Derrick Dockery will not be brought back.
--SS Eric Frampton showed some good things at times; could return for depth purposes.
--RB Felix Jones was a bust as a former first-round pick. The Cowboys will not bring him back as the focus on the draft is to find a backup for DeMarco Murray.
--SS Charlie Peprah was signed late last season because of injuries. He had little impact and will not be brought back.
--LB Brady Poppinga was signed late in the season because of injuries. He had little impact and will not be brought back.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
--DE Brian Schaefering (not tendered as RFA) was signed late season for depth purposes because of injuries.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
--WR Anthony Armstrong: FA had been released by Cowboys; $630,000/1 yr.
--C Phil Costa: Potential RFA; $2.7M/2 yrs, $450,000 SB/$950,000 guaranteed.
--LS L.P. Ladouceur: Potential UFA; 5 yrs, $600,000 SB.
--S Danny McCray: RFA tendered at $1.323M with no compensation; terms unknown.
--LB Ernie Sims: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--DE Anthony Spencer: FFA; $10.627M/1 yr.
--S Will Allen: UFA Steelers; $905,000/1 yr, $65,000 SB.
--LB Justin Durant: UFA Lions; $2.365M/2 yrs, $400,000 SB.
--DT Nick Hayden: FA; terms unknown.
--DT Brian Price: FA; terms unknown.
--CB Brandon Underwood: FA; terms unknown.
--LB Victor Butler: UFA Saints; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--DE Kenyon Coleman: UFA Saints; terms unknown.
--LB Dan Connor (released).
--CB Mike Jenkins: UFA Raiders; terms unknown.
--LB Orie Lemon: Not tendered as ERFA/Chiefs; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--P Brian Moorman: UFA Steelers; terms unknown.
--WR Kevin Ogletree: UFA Buccaneers; terms unknown.
--TE John Phillips: UFA Chargers; 3 yrs, terms unknown.
--S Gerald Sensabaugh (released).
--DE Marcus Spears (released/post-June 1 designation).