Dallas Cowboys Draft: Analyzing The Picks on Offense

Breaking down the offensive draft picks of the Dallas Cowboys. Evaluating how they can contribute to the Cowboys offense and identifying areas where they may need to improve their game.

WR Terrence Williams 6’2″ 208 lbs
Skills:
-On video Williams displays good wide receiver fundamentals.
-Comes back to meet the ball not allowing defenders to step in and get the ball.
-Runs nice routes. Particularly stop and go and great post routes where he nicely blocked out defenders.
-Enough size and strength to get off press coverage.
-A willing blocker down field and can hold without getting caught, with the best of them.

Areas to improve:
-On video I didn’t see Williams run after the catch very effectively. Not one to break tackles or make defenders miss. His YAC (yards after catch) needs to improve. Austin and Harris do this real well.
occasionally lets the ball get in close to his body instead of catching with hands. Can lead to drops.
-Blocking can get better.

How he fits:
If Dez suffers an injury, Williams should be a solid backup.
-Williams could develop into an effective weapon in the redzone. His size will be an advantage and he really goes up after the ball. Blocks defenders out well like a basketball player rebounding.

Player comparison: Laurent Robinson– Williams reminds me of Robinson who was a favorite target of Romo’s. Both 6’2″ and run good routes.

TE Gavin Escobar 6’6″ 254 lbs
Skills:
-Great hands. Displays soft hands and catches the ball away from his body.
-Has enough speed (4.78/40) to cause match up problems for LBs and safeties while enough height at 6’6″, to cause trouble for CBs.
-Has a real natural ability to find open space against zone defenses. And a big target for QB.
-Runs well after catching the ball. Fights to get the first down or get the ball in the endzone.
-Light on his feet. At combine, had second best times in both the cone and shuttle for all TEs.

Areas to improve:
-Very weak run blocker. Gets too high on contact and needs to bend hips and create a wider base with feet. To become a complete TE, Escobar could benefit from some time in the weight room and some practice time with offensive tackles learning to block.
-Doesn’t tuck the ball away when running the ball and may fumble at next level.
-At NFL level, may have trouble getting off line of scrimmage. Adding strength in weight room will help.

How he fits:
-With Dallas drafting a similar player last year in James Hanna, it’s not clear where Escobar fits in. I look for Jason to roll out some creative formations to get Escobar on the field. He could develop into a great go to go guy on 3rd down for Romo. He is a liability in the run game for now.

Player comparison: Jay Novacek– The outstanding 5 time pro bowl TE for Dallas. Watching Escobar run after the catch, may remind many long time Cowboy fans of the great Jay Novacek. Jay was a very valuable pass weapon for the Cowboys so it’s a big comparison. Like Jay, Escobar played basketball in high school and it shows in his game. Former basketball players turned TE, typically display soft hands and an excellent feel for finding open space in the defense.

Some may recall that Novacek wasn’t an instant success in the NFL as he played five unspectacular years with the Cardinals, where he saw little action, before becoming a star with Dallas. Escobar will need some time to develop his game as well.

Center Travis Frederick 6’4″ 312 lbs
Skills:

-Solid run blocker. At college level was part of a good power running game at Wisconsin.
-At combine, best vertical jump of all centers. While centers aren’t asked to ever jump, it indicates good power in his legs which can really help in run blocking. Drive defenders off the line. QB sneak may work now.
-Very intelligent with strong football I.Q. Centers must recognize the defense, identify blitzes, and make the correct protection calls. Getting this done correctly will be a huge benefit to Romo.
-Can also play guard.

Areas to improve:
-Doesn’t have good straight line speed. Very slow 5.55/40 time. To block LBs at the next level, Frederick will need to work on his quickness. Could benefit from some jump rope drills.
-Plenty of room to improve strength with a lower than average 21 reps on the bench for offensive linemen. Needs to set goals in the weight room like yesterday.

How he fits:
After drafting Frederick in the first round, I believe expectations will be for him to start at center or possibly even guard, right away. He will see plenty of playing time as Dallas needs help at his position.

Player Comparison: Peter Konz– Wisconsin center that was the highest rated center in the 2012 NFL draft. The Falcons drafted Konz last year in the 2nd round which is where Dallas could have picked Frederick, instead of the 1st. (don’t get me started on that GM blunder)

Konz performed well last year at center for the Falcons.

RB Joseph Randle 6’0 204 lbs
Skills:
-A very capable receiver out of the backfield. Good hands.
-Good combination of power and speed when running the ball.
-Described by scouts as a dedicated hard worker.
-On video, I saw better than expected running instincts and ability to find day light.
-Seems strong enough to pick up a tough yard when you need one.
-Protects the ball.

Areas to improve:
-Pass blocking needs to improve. Not bad but will need to improve in NFL.

How he fits: Clearly Randle is Felix Jones replacement and will back up Murray. The idea is for the offense to not miss a beat when the predictable injury to Murray comes.

Player comparison: DeMarco Murray– After the draft, head coach Jason Garrett compared Randle to Murray and explained that’s why they picked him. I wouldn’t argue with coach on that but perhaps Murray runs with more power and Randle has a little more shake and bake in his running style.

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