IRVING, Texas – Anyone who knows anything about NFL drafts will say that you can't truly evaluate one until three or four years down the line. That hasn't stopped some in the NFL universe from handing out draft grades since the excitement ended, however.
As one might expect following the controversial move of trading down from No. 18 and selecting Travis Frederick with the 31st pick, the Cowboys' grades haven't exactly been inspiring.
Here are some of the assessments from the Cowboys' weekend:
SportingNews.com's Vinnie Iyer
Evaluation: They're down here because they didn't get either an offensive tackle or defensive lineman, and didn't get in on the run of top safeties. Wisconsin center Travis Frederick could have been had after Round 1, and although San Diego State tight end Gavin Escobar and Baylor wide receiver Terrance Williams have bright futures, it was a case of the Cowboys adding to what they already had. William & Mary slot corner B.W. Webb might end up helping them most in '13.
SI.com's Chris Burke
Evaluation:The Travis Frederick selection was a reach. A major reach. Fellow C Brian Schwenke was taken 76 picks later and it's hard to say Frederick is noticeably better. It got better from there, with TE Gavin Escobar, WR Terrance Williams and S J.J. Wilcox, for starters. The Cowboys, though, still need help at RT, possibly a backup RB, another pass rusher and some linebacker help. They didn't address many needs in this draft.
ESPN's Mel Kiper
Evaluation:I'm pretty sure I described the Dallas draft as "a little all over the place" when I was asked about it midway through. But looking at all the picks together, I'll tell you it certainly improved in my eyes as we got into the later rounds. I was a little critical of the first-round pick, just because the Cowboys drafted a player I thought they could have taken at least 30 spots later. Travis Frederick was my 87th-ranked player. And yet they should get credit because he'll be a starter at a position where they were a total mess in 2013. Gavin Escobar is a good tight end and a great catcher of the football, and he can learn from Jason Witten, but Witten can still play. Similar story with Terrence Williams, an extremely productive wideout for Baylor, who offers depth with the potential to start. Now, those are players I like, but taking two pass-catchers without addressing safety or an aging defensive line seemed really odd to me. Then it got better. J.J. Wilcox has the potential to become a starter and was my No. 5-ranked safety. B.W. Webb is also a prospect at corner out of William & Mary. My concern with both of those picks is the jump in competition, so they'll need seasoning. Randle is a get at a need position late. The Cowboys made some good picks, but no help on the defensive line or depth at tackle out of this draft is disappointing.
Rotoworld.com's Evan Silva
Evaluation: Owner/GM Jerry Jones' draft strategy seemed very needs- rather than value-based, spurning better players in favor of theoretical hole-fillers. The Cowboys were needy on the interior offensive line, but I'd be willing to wager they could've gotten Frederick with the 47th pick. Escobar can create passing-game mismatches, but offers zero as a blocker and isn't necessarily an upgrade on incumbent No. 2 tight end James Hanna. Williams and Holloman were probably the only two true value picks in this group. Randle is a stiff, straight-linish runner with an awfully long way to go in pass protection. I watched tape on him before the draft and found him to be a whiffer in blitz pickup and thoroughly lacking in elusiveness. It would be difficult to say with any confidence that Dallas' lineup improved with this draft. And they entered it with a mediocre roster.
USA Today's Nate Davis
Evaluation:They probably did the right thing by trading out of the 18th spot given what was available, but why not also move down again from 31 if you've decided against Elam or fellow S Johnathan Cyprien rather than reaching for C Travis Frederick? Second-round TE Gavin Escobar is a glorified wideout who may not hold up well as Jason Witten's replacement if it comes to that one day. Fourth-round CB B.W. Webb could make an immediate impact in the return game. RB Joseph Randle (Round 5) may be thrust into action if DeMarco Murray keeps getting sidelined.
Yahoo's Jason Cole
Evaluation:Last year, the Cowboys received a B after an aggressive move up the board to get cornerback Morris Claiborne. This year they traded down, and the grade bottomed out with it. Three of their first four picks are guys who might not play significantly this year. The consensus around the league is that Frederick was a reach. Escobar was a fine pick, but then Williams and Wilcox are two guys who might not play for two years. Considering the Cowboys have Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, Williams was an unnecessary luxury (particularly after the Escobar pick). Wilcox can be an in-the-box safety, but he's so woefully inexperienced that it's going to take a while.
SBNation.com's Dan Kadar
A pick: Travis Frederick, C
Almost no one is disputing that the Cowboys took Frederick too early in the draft. But once games start, people will quickly forget where Frederick was picked. He's a perfect fit on Dallas' offensive line and will open a lot of holes in the run game.
Late-round find:Joseph Randle, RB
If Demarco Murray continues to have injury problems, it will be less of an issue with Randle on the roster. Randle is a strong runner capable of gaining yards after contact. He compares favorably to Murray and could be a solid contributor early.
Undrafted intrigue: Brandon Magee, LB
Magee will have to make his mark on special teams. With his pure speed (he ran a 4.56 40 at his Pro Day), Magee could be good on kick and punt coverage and as a backup linebacker.