Cowboys downsize to 31st, pick Wisconsin center

It was a long first day of the NFL Draft for the Dallas Cowboys.

The question of whether it was a good one remains to be seen after the Cowboys traded back in the first round to pick up an extra pick in the third round before taking Wisconsin center/guard Travis Frederick with the 31st overall selection.

The 6-foot-4, 312-pound Frederick was ranked by some as the top center in the draft but projected to go in the second round and as late as the third before admittedly being surprised by the Cowboys.

“I was sitting watching the draft with my family and a few close friends.… I didn’t expect it,” Frederick said. “When the phone rang I was very excited.

“I was little surprised. I thought I was going to fit in the second round. But Dallas showed a lot of interest. I definitely know they needed help inside. I think I’m going to fit in pretty well down there.”

Frederick certainly fills a need position for the Cowboys, who wanted to upgrade the interior offensive line and have the undersized Phil Costa returning as the starting center.

Costa started just three games last season because of back and ankle injuries. Veteran Ryan Cook, acquired in a trade with the Miami Dolphins before the start of the season, was forced to start 11 games.

Frederick will also get a look at guard, where he started as a junior at Wisconsin. The Cowboys are also looking to upgrade from Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau at guard.

“He has position flex,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He is a smart good football player. He was the highest-rated player on our board at a position of need. We spent a lot of time on him. We felt we knew him well. We feel good about him helping us.”

While the Cowboys liked the pick, there is concern that they reached to take Frederick. There is also a concern of whether they got good value for the trade.

The Cowboys traded their 18th overall pick to San Francisco, who selected Eric Reid of LSU. The Cowboys got the 31st pick in the first round plus a third-round pick, 74th overall. The trade value chart suggests that Cowboys should have gotten the 49ers‘ second-round pick, 61st overall, rather than the third-round pick.

Vice president Stephen Jones vehemently denied that the Cowboys didn’t get good value for the trade. He said they got better value on his chart.

The Cowboys went into the draft hoping to improve the offensive line with either North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper or Alabama guard Chance Warmack, the defensive line with Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson or the defensive backfield with Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro.

But those players went off the board to Arizona at 7, Tennessee at 10, the New York Jets at 13 and New Orleans at 15, respectively.

The Cowboys felt that once the players they had targeted for 18 were gone they wanted to move back where they believe they could get a similar quality player based on what was left and add extra picks.

“We didn’t see see a player we wanted to spend that pick on,” owner Jerry Jones said. “We felt we had options with players that were still available when we made the trade to go to 31.

“The incentive was, and the lure was, to end up with a third-round pick and still get a first-round pick that was good as the one at 18. And that is what we did.”

Barring a trade the Cowboys have six more picks in rounds 2-6, including two in the third round.

The second and third rounds are today. Rounds 4-7 will be Saturday.

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