After two-plus days of the 2013 NFL Draft, Travis Frederick is a Dallas Cowboy and Montee Ball is a Denver Bronco. How do they fit in their respective landing spots? National consensus pegged Frederick as somewhat of a reach for the Cowboys, though Ball's selection generated a little more praise.
The Cowboys initially had the 18th pick in the first round, but traded down to the 31st without seeing much value at 18. Frederick was one of the 30 players the Cowboys brought in for pre-draft visits, though he was widely pegged as a second-round pick. Mike Mayock of NFL.com even had him as a third-round prospect.
There are many upset at the perceived value in how Dallas handled the first round. According to the Jimmy Johnson trade value chart, they lost points in moving back from 18 to 31 to pick up 74. According to Jerry and Stephen Jones, they broke even based on the version of a trade chart that they use at Valley Ranch. Piled onto that, the Cowboys selected a player that many experts saw as a late second, or early third round selection.
For the pick itself, head coach Jason Garrett said the Cowboys see Frederick as a flexible lineman who can plug in several different holes on the line.
Jason Garrett: Because he has position flex, and has played a full season at either spot, we feel good about plugging him in at either spot and having him compete with the guys we have on our roster. So we haven't made that determination right now. We like competition, as you guys know, and he'll certainly be very much in the mix, having picked him in the first round.He's a smart, tough guy. We use an expression called "make up"; he has the make up as a person. His football integrity and character are outstanding and he's just a smart, good football player and there was just a lot to like about him.
He was the highest rated player on our board when we took him, at we believe a position of need; getting stronger on the offensive line. We spent a lot of time with him. Coach Callahan went up and worked him out and we've spent through this whole process a lot of time [on him]. We felt we knew him well.
Blogging The Boys also rounded up a national reaction piece to the Frederick pick. It covers a lot of ground and is well worth a read, but here's how Frederick fits into the Cowboys's o-line in the short term.
From Dan Hanzus of NFL.com:
It's not a flashy move, but Frederick gives Dallas' line much-needed stability. Phil Costa was signed to a two-year extension last month, and he could kick over to right guard, fortifying a trouble spot for the team. Frederick is in line to be a starter, whether that's at center or guard. Remember, the Cowboys just paid massive dollars to keep Tony Romo in Arlington until the end of days. Keeping Romo upright is tantamount. Frederick helps toward that goal.
From Dan Graziano of ESPN.com:
Just because Scouts Inc. ranked Warford 53rd and this guy 70th doesn't make the pick ridiculous. You pay your scouts to find guys who fit what you want to do, and then you trust them. All week, everybody told me the Cowboys needed to trust their board, and it appears what happened here was that they didn't have anyone they liked at 18 so they snagged an extra pick and moved down to take a guy they did like. If you think all that's left to you is second-rounders, then why not just start the second round two picks early and add a third-rounder that might help you maneuver into that second round Friday night?
A more welcomed selection, it seemed, at least once people were able to take a closer look at Ball's career in Madison. It was interesting when Le'Veon Bell went 12 picks earlier to the Pittsburgh Steelers; his ability as a physical runner was touted, as well as his all-around game and pass-catching prowess. A few blogs and reporters closer to Big Ten coverage at least mentioned Ball in the same sentence, but only in pointing out Bell as the first running back drafted from the conference. Either way, a minor grape -- both went before Alabama's Eddie Lacy, who was seen as a possible first-round talent.
If Bell is "perfect" for the Steelers -- perhaps as easy a comparison as there is to make -- Bell sure as heck isn't bad for the Broncos. His vision and cutback ability greatly complements his power up the middle, and he could be a stud in an offense traditionally known for his rushing attack.
We've picked Wisconsin RB Montee Ball. Good size back who had tremendous production in college. Will add great dimension to run game.— John Elway (@johnelway) April 27, 2013
On the phone call to Ball, John Elway told him "We were biting our fingernails for about 3 hours." Video to come soon.— Chris Hall (@BroncosTV) April 27, 2013
From Mile High Report, who seemed to like the pick after warming up a bit -- and overcoming Elway & co. looking past Lacy. SEC bias!
Didn't love the pick at first, but look. What have the Broncos struggled with in recent history? Moving the chains, scoring goalline TD's, and having someone durable and reliable in the backfield. Montee Ball improves all of those areas immensely.
He is not a sexy or flashy pick, but a lunchpail hardnosed runner that will get you the yards you need. He has excellent vision, has a great stiff arm and jump step move, is decisive when hitting the hole, a one cut runner, and someone who can also receive out of the backfield. Just because someone wasn't asked to do that a whole lot doesn't mean that are incapable of doing it. Ball averaged about 10 yards per reception which puts him on par with Knowshon Moreno's career average.
Ball also grew up a Broncos fan, emulating Terrell Davis in his heyday. That alone makes him a fun fit in Denver, but given the running back situation there, Ball could be in an even better situation. Elway said the Broncos see Ball as a three-down back in the NFL, capable of being the featured workhorse much like he was at Wisconsin. Willis McGahee is aging, forever injury-prone and has somewhat of a penchant for fumbling. If he's the odd man out, it could come down to Ball and Knowshon Moreno for the featured carries in Denver's offense, and they seem capable of being a very solid pair:
Montee Ball is less of a threat to Moreno's place on the depth chart because their skillsets don't necessarily overlap. Knowshon is McGahee Light in that he stepped up admirably in the feature role. Make no mistake though, Knowshon is not a punishing between the tackles runner like McGahee or Montee. He is best utilized as a receiving threat out of the backfield that can split out wide and run routes or get into space in the screen game.