Three preseason games are in the bag with two to go, so now may be a good time to take a look at the progress of the 2013 draft picks. It’s been enough time for the fans and coaches to have an idea of what they have in these picks.
I’m not ready to assign them grades at this point but I want to look at who is most likely to make an impact this season.
RANKED FROM MOST EXPECTED IMPACT in 2013 TO THE LEAST:
1. Travis Frederick– The rookie center was the Cowboys first pick and while I was critical of the fact that they could have gotten him later like in the 2nd or 3rd rounds, his value this season is going to be significant. He has earned the starting center spot and has proven he can play guard too if needed. When Frederick is in the offense, I don’t see defenses getting that big push up the middle that occurred too often in 2012. Romo will learn to like him at center very quickly. Frederick is clearly intelligent enough to make the protection calls at the line and that could make a difference.
The offensive line was an area that Dallas really needed to improve and while I’m still convinced they didn’t do enough, Frederick is an addition that will improve the line play.
2. Joseph Randle– Before the season Dallas released the often injured RB Felix Jones and then drafted Randle to help back up Murray. Randle got off to a slow start with a thumb injury from college play but during preseason games, he has proven that he will help this team in 2013. I like the way Randle runs with some attitude and determination which is needed in the offense. He has shown that he can catch the ball out of the back field effectively and he has done a nice job at the goal line getting the ball in the endzone.
If Murray gets injured, Randle will become more valuable quickly but I expect to see him included in the offense even with a healthy Murray.
3. DeVonte Holloman– In my humble view, the Cowboys got a steal in landing LB Holloman in the 6th round of the draft. In analyzing his play in college, I noted that he tackled real well and expected him to be good in pass coverage. So far he has exceeded expectations with 2 interceptions including a long pick six in the HOF game. He also created a fumble while blitzing in the Cardinals game. The officials ruled it an incomplete pass but Holloman showed what he can do on a blitz.
At this early point, Holloman is not a starter but Kiffin will be wise to get this play maker and turnover maker on the field as much as possible. On passing downs, I would get Holloman on the field. Soon to be a starter.
4. JJ Wilcox– The Cowboys need help at safety and I think they may have found it in this draft pick. Against the Raiders, Wilcox made a nice interception in the endzone to stop a score. On that play, he demonstrated a strength which is good ball instincts. Wilcox has also proven himself a capable open field tackler and when he hits, he brings the “proverbial wood”.
At this point, Wilcox will not start at safety as he needs more development in pass coverage. He may be a year away from starting or perhaps even less, but I look for him to get on the field and make plays for the defense in 2013.
5. Gavin Escobar– To be honest, I was surprised that Dallas drafted another TE since they already had Witten and Hanna. Garrett intends to use more multiple TE sets and while Escobar needs development as a blocker, his hands are outstanding. Escobar had 5 catches in the Cardinals game including his first TD grab. While his speed isn’t outstanding, he is tall at 6’6″, and he catches the ball well in traffic. Bottom line is he can make plays in the passing game and excellent speed isn’t required to do it.
At this point, Escobar is not a starter but I look for him to be included in the offense and I believe he will be a big help in the redzone. As a basketball player, Escobar knows how to jump up and get the ball away from defenders.
6. Terrance Williams– Williams was a very productive WR at Baylor and we finally got to see him in action in the Cardinals game. Early in the game, Williams broke free down the sideline for what should have been a TD catch but Romo way over threw him. Later Romo said that Williams changed to the wrong route but it sure looked like the right route to me since he was streaking down the sideline all alone! Romo just missed that throw in my view. Hey Romo, don’t throw it where he should be, throw it where he is.
Williams did make his first catch in the game on a 5 yard gain on the sideline. What I liked about that otherwise unspectacular catch, was how he came back to meet the ball. Good fundamentals.
Williams has more to learn is what Romo was trying to tell us but I really like how he uses his size and strength to get open and get position on defenders. Due to an early injury in camp, I don’t think Williams is ready to start at WR just yet. But I do expect Williams to develop into an effective target as the season progresses. His size could prove to be valuable in the redzone/goal line situations.
7. B.W. Webb- This pick surprised me too since Dallas had made efforts to sign two CBs the previous year in Carr & Claiborne. They also have Scandrick locked up in a big contract too.
Webb had a game against the Raiders that he would like to put behind him with a muffed punt, missed tackles, and blown coverage. Clearly Webb isn’t ready to play in the NFL yet and after watching him in college film at the Senior Bowl and at William & Mary, I couldn’t really figure out why Dallas drafted him to be frank.
Webb proved himself to be a capable punt returner in college but in preseason games, he has shown a lack of confidence by allowing the ball to bounce instead of fair catching the ball. Webb does have very good quickness and may develop into a good CB later but for now, (and it’s very early) I smell a bust in this pick.