By Matthew Postins
I’m not a big fan of draft grades. I mean, it’s quite subjective when you think about it. Assessing a grade to a draft that just happened a day or two ago? It makes for nice conversation, but every NFL personnel person will tell you that you can’t grade a draft for three years. And they’re right.
So instead, below you’ll find the winners and the losers to come out of NFL Draft weekend for the Dallas Cowboys.
Travis Frederick: Just about everyone – including Frederick himself – valued him as a second-round pick. What did moving into the first round mean for the Wisconsin center? First, he gets a five-year contract, as opposed to the four-year deal he would have gotten in the second round. Second, Frederick’s five-year deal will likely include $2 million more in bonus money and $2.6 million more over the life of the contract than he would have had if he had been selected with the Cowboys’ second-round pick. That’s a lot of new razors for a guy who needs a shave.
Tony Romo: Let’s see. Shiny new contract extension. Good-looking wife. New kid. New toys to play with at work. And the bosses listen to him, too. What more could you want? Well …
Doug Free: You may not like him at right tackle, but he has enormous leverage now. The Cowboys didn’t address his position and his backup was playing basketball at Ole Miss four years ago. What pay cut? The Cowboys may still cut him for cap purposes, but doing so basically nullifies the improvement the Cowboys drafted in Frederick.
Trade Charts: Never in my time covering pro football has so much been made over a draft chart that no one has ever seen. But I look at it like this – if the Cowboys have to invest this much time in explaining their trade chart and justifying the trade, then the trade was probably somewhat flawed to begin with.
Kyle Wilber: Wilber was drafted as a pass-rushing outside linebacker. He’s now being asked to move to right defensive end to back up Anthony Spencer. Because the Cowboys didn’t draft a defensive end, Wilber is all but a lock to be the backup in training camp. And he hasn’t played a down yet. Never mind that he’s listed at 246 pounds. For a defensive end.
Jason Garrett: Stay with me. Garrett’s reaction during the process of trading down in the first round can be read any number of ways. But he now has a way to sell himself if the Cowboys go 8-8 again, or worse, and he’s fired. All he has to do with a prospective employer is pop in the tape from the Cowboys Draft Room, point to his reaction and tell the GM, “Hey, I told him not to do it,” even if that’s not what happened. There isn’t a GM in this league that is going to look at this draft and believe Garrett’s fingerprints are anywhere near it. That might serve him well down the road.
Bill Callahan: It’s now clear Callahan has much power to wield in the organization. He was heavily involved in researching Frederick and, theoretically, pushed hard for the center.
Draft Strategy: This team had three clear needs – safety, offensive line and defensive line. They addressed the safety need with a project. They addressed the offensive line need with a center that they likely could have drafted in the second round. They didn’t address the defensive line need at all. I’m all for the best available player, but how do you look at this roster, look at what this team did last year, look at the injuries that decimated this team and not draft at least one defensive lineman and at least one more offensive lineman? It’s baffling.
Jerry Jones: He is “the decider,” to paraphrase George W. Bush. He decided to trade down in the first round and decided to draft four offensive players, three of them at skill positions. If the strategy was flawed, he’s where you start. Because we all know Jerry pulls the trigger on draft day.
Stephen Jones: I used to think Stephen was the reasonable one. Now, after this draft, I’m not so sure. His trade chart argument on Saturday night struck me as fairly illogical. Remember – this guy takes over for Jerry one day.
Miles Austin: This is a put up or shut up year for Austin. He has to stay healthy and produce. The Cowboys are reaching the point in his contract where the cap hit for releasing him is much less prohibitive.
Orlando Scandrick: That B.W. Webb kid could be something special. Scandrick’s cap hit next year, if he’s released, isn’t prohibitive. If he takes to the new system, he’ll stay. If he doesn’t, well, who knows?
Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli: Having covered the pair in Tampa, I can tell you that if they say they like what’s on the roster you can believe them. But, you know, if I’m Monte I’m talking with Jerry on Monday because he didn’t draft a lick of help on the defensive line, and that’s where the Cover 2 really starts.
Dwayne Harris: He may still be your No. 3 receiver. But the Cowboys definitely made his ascension much harder by drafting Terrance Williams.