Rookie camp gives Cowboys a peek at the future and the present

1The center of attention

Forget all the controversy over whether the Cowboys got good value for Wisconsin center/guard Travis Frederick with the 31st pick in the first round. He is here now and needs to show that he can be a walk-in starter in the middle of the offensive line. Frederick has the versatility to play center and guard. But you don’t want to overload him with learning too much as a rookie. The position at which he opens in minicamp is where he will be. If it’s not center, the catcalls will start over again.

2The one Escobar

According to owner Jerry Jones, the Cowboys are changing their offense to feature more two tight end sets because of second-round pick Gavin Escobar. He is considered a natural pass catcher who is the heir apparent to starter Jason Witten. The Cowboys, however, plan for him to have an immediate impact in 2013. Of course, we have heard this in the past with Martellus Bennett. The rookie minicamp will provide the first look to see if Escobar is the real thing.

3The Randle effect

Running back Joseph Randle might have been picked in the fifth round, but he may be the team’s most important draft pick after Travis Frederick in terms of the 2013 season. Randle is expected to be the primary backup to starter DeMarco Murray. He needs to start camp with a bang and show he is ready for the job as a runner, receiver and blocker as well as that of a starter, considering Murray’s injury history.

4Wilcox at safety

One of the Cowboys’ biggest needs heading into the draft was at safety, but they didn’t address the position until they took Georgia Southern’s J.J. Wilcox in the third round. His pedigree doesn’t scream walk-in starter. He is from a small school and has only played safety one year after moving over from receiver as a senior. Wilcox has elite athleticism and is fearless, but he is raw. The Cowboys need him to be a fast learner for him to have an impact as a rookie.

5Leary and the veterans

In addition to rookie draft picks and unsigned free agents, several first-year players also will be on hand for the rookie minicamp, including guards Ron Leary and Charlie Bryant, receivers Tim Benford and Jared Green, tackle Aderious Simmons, defensive tackle Monte Taylor, defensive end Ikponmwosa Igbinosun and safety Micah Pellerin. Leary is the biggest name as he was owner Jerry Jones’ “pet cat” this time last year before spending most of the season on the practice squad.

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