Most teams expect their first-round picks to start, but for the Cowboys that might mean admitting another personnel mistake.
Drafting Wisconsin center Travis Frederick with the 31st pick might be described as a reach by some, but Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he was the 22nd-ranked player on their board (on which there were 19 first-rounders).
Now they just have to figure out whether he plays center, or replaces 2012 free agent guard signings Nate Livings or Mackenzy Bernadeau.
“I had hoped we could come out of this thing with a legitimate starter, a legitimate starter, and he will start,” Jones said, via Tim McMahon of ESPNDallas.com. “He will start. First-rounder and not starting? I know coach wants there to be competition and should be, and we all know that’s the way it is.”
Of course, he wouldn’t be the first Cowboys first-rounder to not start (not that they’re busts).
But given recent investments, he better be playing center, replacing former undrafted rookie Phil Costa. Both Livings and Bernadeau were signed to eight-figure free agent deals a year ago, but that didn’t stop the Cowboys interior line from being a mess last year.
“We’re going to put a base in there where you don’t have a knock-back issue,” Jones said. “Bill Callahan is a big center guy. After your left tackle, he likes the center position as far as the best players on the offensive line. Well, we’ve got Costa. We’re pretty proud of Costa, frankly. Well, can this guy play guard? You bet he can.”
Jones said he considered trading up from 18 (instead of down to 31) if they could have gotten top-10 guards Jonathan Cooper or Chance Warmack, but adding an extra third-rounder instead of giving one up for the difference swayed him.
“I don’t know if I would have wanted to give up a 3 to have rather had a player we might have moved up for than to have Frederick and gained a 3,” Jones said. “We’re two 3s better off by having not moved up and picked another guard.”
Those extra picks are only worth something if you use them to pick good players, and nothing in the Cowboys’ recent personnel-acquisition history indicates that will be the case.