The Dallas Cowboys should not have used a first-round pick on Travis Frederick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Period. They definitely could have gotten him in the second round and probably early in the third if they had wanted to trade up at that point. However, Frederick is apparently starting to prove that he might have been worth the reach, which was evident with his performance in the annual Hall of Fame Game.
It’s always good to point out that too much can’t be taken from NFL preseason games, but these exhibitions are the first semi-real look at how certain players will perform during the regular season. By that basis, the Cowboys should be cautiously excited about what they saw from Frederick against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday night.
The 31st overall pick in this year’s draft played center in the first half and guard in the second and it was obvious which position best suits him. He’s a natural-born center who knows how to direct traffic before the snap and then take care of business after it. Frederick looked way more comfortable than Phil Costa or Ryan Cook did in the past two seasons and he showed that he’s simply a better player than either of them.
Costa was just given the starting center job in 2011 when the Cowboys cut Andre Gurode in the midst of a confusing and contradictory youth movement with no real plan in place to fill the shoes of the perennial Pro Bowler. Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett ignorantly inserted Costa simply because he was younger and that move proved costly as the then-24-year-old struggled with everything from snap counts to pass protection. Now that Frederick has been given the chance to start, he’s proving that Costa was never deserving of a larger role in Dallas’ offense.
Frederick showed on Sunday night that he has brawn to go along with his brains; he’s a very strong center who knows what he’s doing before and after the snap. Costa lacks the awareness and physical strength to perform the way the Cowboys need him to; he missed several snap counts in 2011 and was often driven off the line by pass rushers and even lifted backward by stronger defenders. After watching Frederick work at center against Miami, that shouldn’t be the case with the rookie at the helm in 2013.
We still need to see Frederick work with Tony Romo in the shotgun, especially when an audible is called at the line of scrimmage, but so far, so good for Dallas’ latest first-round draft pick.