The Cowboys first preseason game with the Dolphins at the HOF is just a couple of weeks away so it’s time to look at options. Jason Garrett has already indicated that their first round draft pick Travis Frederick would get some time at guard. HERE
While Frederick was advertised as able to play guard too, make no mistake he was drafted to play center which was a position that struggled with a lack of depth last season. At Wisconsin, Frederick played center his senior year in 2012 but he has experience at guard in the 2011 season with Russell Wilson as the QB.
The question is can Travis Frederick play guard effectively if Dallas needs him to and it’s frankly looking more like they will need him to whether he is ready for it or not. I looked at his play at left guard for Wisconsin against Ohio State in 2011, and also against Oregon in the Rose Bowl early 2012.
Strengths- When it comes to pass blocking what Frederick did well at guard was hold his ground and form a pocket for Wilson. He is not easily “bull rushed” while in the past, center Phil Costa has shown he can be bull rushed like he is on roller skates. I didn’t see any defensive linemen shove Frederick back into the backfield. He does a nice job of neutralizing the push up the middle and Dallas really could use that ability. He also displays nice awareness of forming a pocket and knowing who needs help. Obviously an intelligent player that almost never blocks the wrong guy. Not easily confused by stunts or formations etc.
Weakness- It’s no secret that Frederick is just not very athletic and it shows when defenses blitz LB or CBs on a delay. Frederick sees them but his feet and lack of quickness more often than not just will not get him there in time. For a guard, that could be an issue at the NFL level where he will occasionally have to pick up athletic blitzers due to the formations.
Strengths- When it comes to run blocking, Frederick the guard does a good job of firing off the ball and getting a push on the defender in front of him. I noticed on video that the offense preferred running the ball behind him at the goal line and he came through for them almost every time. The Cowboys need that ability for sure near the goal line.
Surprisingly, he also did a pretty good job of getting to the next level on run plays to get a piece of a LB pursuing the run. When asked to pull out and lead a sweep he did a decent job getting a body on someone in open space. This didn’t look like a strength of his but he wasn’t a failure at it either. It’s when he was asked to pull the opposite way where things fell apart and that leads me to his weakness.
Weakness- When asked to pull from his left guard position to the right in order to lead the RB through a hole, Frederick looked awkward, clumsy, and a little slow. He often got caught up in traffic and even at times arrived in the hole about the time the RB did which is not how it’s suppose to work. He just didn’t appear comfortable doing it.
Many times when Frederick got to the hole, instead of blasting the defender out of the way, the defender knocked Frederick back into the RB blowing up the run play. That’s not good. In my view, this was the weakest part of his game playing at guard.
Final Take: It’s nice to have a versatile offensive lineman who can effectively play center and guard particularly in the NFL, where there is only a 53 man roster and a team has casualties. With Frederick, I think he can play both but how well he plays will depend on what Dallas ask him to do. If they play to his strengths, he will be OK but if they ask him to move a lot and do things he can’t, it could get ugly.
The Cowboys run offense does tend to require mobile guards so it really could become an issue. The Cowboys are more finesse than smash mouth and smash mouth is what Frederick does best. In my opinion, Dallas may be better off having the more mobile Costa move to guard and allow Frederick to play center where he can anchor the middle of the line while Costa moves about in space.
However Frederick is a guy I consider to be an over achiever. Using his intelligence to make up for a lack of athletic ability, he has come from a very small high school to Wisconsin and now to the Cowboys. He has a tendency to prove people wrong so I don’t dare say he can’t play guard.
During preseason camp, It will be very interesting to watch what Dallas does at the guard position and especially with the challenges the injuries have created.