OXNARD, Calif. – Two days before last Friday's preseason game in Oakland, owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he was "very pleased" with the progress of all seven draft picks, stating he could make a positive statement about all of them.
It's unlikely that notion has changed but the Cowboys do have another game on their belt, with some of the rookies making strides and other have taken a step back.
Still, as it stands with a week remaining in camp but three preseason games still to play, all seven draft picks are expected to make the 53-man roster.
Then again, the roster and depth chart are always fluid, especially this time of year.
So let's take a closer look at the seven draft picks and their progress here with only a handful of training camp practices remaining in Oxnard.
Travis Frederick (C/G, 1st round, 31st overall)- The first-round pick looks like a rookie at times. He looks like a first-round pick and even flashes a few examples where he's more than ready to take over in the middle of the Cowboys' line. Frederick looks like a vet in his ability to handle the line calls. The execution of those calls isn't always without problems, but he's improved seemingly every practice and performed better from the first preseason game to the second.
The problem he's running into now is the Cowboys' lack of depth at guard. Not only is Frederick not getting continuity among his fellow guards, but he's having to play guard as well as the Cowboys try to evaluate if backup center Phil Costa is indeed one of the top five linemen on the team.
Gavin Escobar (TE, 2nd round, 47th overall)- When asked about Escobar's progress, head coach Jason Garrett said the second-round tight end is still in the devolving stage, especially as a blocker.
"That's not his strength coming into this thing but he has the traits physically to be able to do that," Garrett said of Escobar. "He's got to get stronger. He knows that, we know that. He just has to keep working at it. But one of the things I have been impressed with has been his nastiness and his toughness. He's not afraid to stick his nose in there in any facet of the game and that's a good sign."
Right now, Escobar is playing behind James Hanna when the Cowboys go with the "12 Personnel" within the first-team offense.
Terrance Williams (WR, 3rd round, 74th overall) – Yet to play in a preseason game, Williams at least returned to practice Sunday after missing a full week with a concussion. The third-round pick from Baylor had an impressive showing in his debut practice, catching several passes in the team period, and a few of them he had to use his size and strength to out-muscle the defensive backs.
Williams is likely still in position to become the No. 3 receiver. The only real candidates to unseat him would be Dwayne Harris, who hasn't been a factor in the first two preseason games, or Cole Beasley, who caught a touchdown last week but will likely miss a week with a foot injury. Beasley doesn't really play the same spot as Williams considering he lines up more in the slot.
Williams should be in good shape to have a strong role in the offense, especially if he can continue his progress in the next three preseason games.
J.J. Wilcox (S, 3rd round, 80th overall) – Wilcox has left camp to return home to Georgia to be with his ailing mother. The Cowboys will give the rookie safety as much time as he needs.
When he does return to action, assuming he can stay mentally focused, Wilcox will look to continue the big strides he has made. Against Oakland, Wilcox made six tackles, including five on one drive – a drive that ended with his interception in the end zone.
"Better. A lot better. He looked more comfortable out there on defense," Garrett said. "He was running to the football, tackled well, obviously he made that big play in the ballgame. He has very good instincts. He's very aware of what's going on as a player on the backend for a guy who hasn't played that much safety in his life. He did that a lot in the spring. He made a lot of those same kinds of plays. He's a good football player who is going to get better." [embedded_ad]
B.W. Webb (CB, 4th round, 114th overall) - The one player who visible struggled the most Friday night was Webb, and that occurred both on defense and special teams. Webb's muffed punt that resulted in a lost fumble, led to the Raiders' eventual game-winning field goal.
The fourth-round pick actually got a big chance to show himself on defense, getting action in the early going in place of Morris Claiborne. However, Webb gave up a pair of third-down catches on one drive and had trouble in coverage later in the game. More than that, Garrett was disappointed with another aspect of Webb's game.
"There were a variety of mistakes he made and our other young players made in this ball game. I could down line by line with you," Garrett said of Webb. "Obviously, fumbling the football – young, old or in the middle – you have to take care of the ball. I think he understands that. There were some issues tackling. He was inconsistent tackling in the game. I thought his demeanor in the game was only OK. Other teams and other players are going to have success against you. You've just got to keep coming and you've got to keep battling. And I'm not so sure he did that as well as he needs to. And he'll learn from that experience."
Webb is currently battling with Sterling Moore and Brandon Underwood for second-team reps.
Joseph Randle (RB, 5th round, 151st overall) - The running back from Oklahoma State is working into the rotation for carries, but it's not easy behind DeMarco Murray, Lance Dunbar and even Phillip Tanner.
Still, Randle is getting some chances in the second half of these preseason games. He led the team with 70 yards last week against the Dolphins and then scored a touchdown this past Friday against the Raiders. Randle also showed some elusiveness in the open field in the passing game. "I think he has deceptive speed. I think he's a talented guy physically," Garrett said of Randle. "He plays big I think. He has quickness. I do think he has speed and explosiveness and he has good vision. He did a nice job on the kickoff just kind of cutting the thing back when a defender came in his face. I think we've seen some of that with him as a runner. He has a good feel for the soft spot and then can capture, get his pads low. I think he's run well the first couple of games."
DeVonte Holloman (OLB, 6th round, 185th overall) - Even through two games, Holloman still has the best play of the preseason with his 75-yard interception return for a score in the Hall of Fame Game. But he's also played well in coverage and special teams. Holloman has a good chance of becoming one of the three backup backers and a special teamer that will be active on Week 1. "I think he's done some good things, obviously the interception up in Canton was a huge play, and I think he has some playmaking traits," Garrett said. "He, like a lot of young guys, just needs to understand how to play with the consistent intensity necessary at this level, and he'll learn that. It's our job to point it out to him so he can have real good learning experiences based on some of the snaps he's played. But he's doing good things, he's around the ball a lot, he has a little bit of a playmaker knack about him, but again he has to play more consistently. Again, a lot of young guys have to do that."