CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 17: Jacob Pedersen #48 of the Wisconsin Badgers gets a hug from teammate Travis Frederick #72 after scoring a touchdown against the Northern Illinois Huskies at Soldier Field on September 17, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Wisconsin defeated Northern Illinois 49-7. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
If you want to get a sense of how unexpected the Cowboys’ early draft moves really were, consider that their first four selections were ranked inversely on my board; yes, I had safety J.J. Wilcox rated slightly ahead of wide receiver Terrance Williams, who was a long way ahead of tight end Gavin Escobar. First-round pick Travis Frederick wasn’t rated in my top 80, and I viewed him as a third-round talent.
When I posted my initial scouting reports on those players, I would typically spend around 30 minutes or more watching any tape I could find. Thanks to some hard-working individuals around the country, there’s actually plenty of film available on every prospect, even the small-school guys.
Well, I’ve had more time to study each prospect, both on the field and off. My original grades were based almost solely on game tape, measurables, and college stats, but there’s obviously more to consider. If there’s one thing the Cowboys have done well since Jason Garett took over as head coach, it’s draft high-character players who will continue to work hard after they sign their first contract. This class is no different.
So this week, I’m going to post any new information I can find on each rookie, along with my original scouting report. Then, I’ll re-grade the prospect. The grades will be independent of the Cowboys’ selections, meaning Frederick won’t be penalized for being over-drafted in the first round. Today, let’s start with him.
The first thing that must be noted about Frederick is that he had a really poor showing at the Combine, running a 5.58 40-yard dash—the second-slowest for any lineman there—and posting only 21 reps on the bench press. Critics of measurables will point out that “linemen never have to run 40 yards” in games, and while that’s true, it doesn’t really matter. When a player runs such a slow time, it hints to a lack of athleticism. Can Frederick play in the NFL without being an elite athlete? Sure, but he still needs to surpass a certain threshold of athleticism, and I’m not sure he does.
Frederick has good size at 6-4, 312 pounds. On film, he plays very intelligently. He handles stunts and blitzes well, and he displays outstanding body position nearly all of the time. Frederick doesn’t typically deliver knockout shots, but he gets between his defender and the ball-carrier or quarterback on most plays. For lacking athleticism, he does a fine job of getting to the second level and walling off defenders.
Frederick is very coachable and he’s going to work hard at the next level. He’s the “right kind of guy,” but I’m not sure if he has the right kind of athleticism to really thrive in the NFL. He’s not going to provide flawless pass protection, and there’s a good chance he’ll get eaten up by the league’s quicker interior defensive linemen. Plus, there are questions about how stout he can be at the point-of-attack.
What I Like
Obviously, Frederick has some really good tape out there. He plays with awesome technique, and you can tell just how cerebral he is on the field. After hearing him in his first press conference in Dallas, you can tell he’s a really intelligent kid. That’s important, especially for a player who will be making the line calls.
From all accounts, Frederick is also a natural leader. He seems confident in himself—which will be vital for someone the fans already dislike because of his draft spot—and he seems to be very focused on improving his game.
What I Don’t Like
Again, I question if Frederick has enough athleticism to really thrive in the NFL. You don’t need to be a freak athlete to play center, but I watched more tape of Frederick struggling with speed at the college level. I think he has the determination and work ethic to improve, but it won’t matter if he’s not athletic enough to play with NFL talent.
I also don’t like that Frederick is a low-ceiling player. I really doubt that he can ever play at an All-Pro level, even if he maxes out on his potential. It’s smart to invest in safe players in the first round, but the Cowboys probably could have drafted a safe player with more upside.
Re-Grade: Second Round
My feelings on Frederick’s on-field ability haven’t really changed, but I love what I’ve seen from him since he was drafted. He’s intelligent and focused enough to improve others around him, and that’s important. I’ll give him a late second-round grade. I like the player, but the Cowboys still overpaid.