IRVING, Texas – The company line is that Cowboys first-round pick Travis Frederick will compete for a starting job this season.
The reality is that the coaching staff just needs to figure out whose job Frederick will take.
“I had hoped we could come out of this thing with a legitimate starter, a legitimate starter, and he will start,” owner/general manager Jerry Jones said. “He will start. First-rounder and not starting? I know coach wants there to be competition and should be, and we all know that’s the way it is.”
Jones cited the interior offensive line as the Cowboys’ most glaring weakness. Center Phil Costa struggled in his first season as a starter in 2011 and missed almost all of last season due to injuries. Guards Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau were disappointments in their first season in Dallas after signing eight-figure deals as free agents.
The Cowboys ranked Frederick as the No. 22 player on their board. They had 19 players with first-round grades but, according to Jones, they determined that there was more value in trading down to No. 31 and adding the No. 74 overall pick.
“I don’t know if I would have wanted to give up a 3 to have rather had a player we might have moved up for than to have Frederick and gained a 3,” Jones said. “We’re two 3s better off by having not moved up and picked another guard.”
So will the 6-foot-3 5/8, 320-ish-pound Frederick begin his NFL career at guard or center? That’s something the coaches need to determine as quickly as possible after full-team offseason workouts begin next month.
“We’re going to put a base in there where you don’t have a knock-back issue,” Jones said. “[Offensive coordinator] Bill Callahan is a big center guy. After your left tackle, he likes the center position as far as the best players on the offensive line. Well, we’ve got Costa. We’re pretty proud of Costa, frankly. Well, can this guy play guard? You bet he can.”
Added head coach Jason Garrett: “Because he has position flex and has played a full season at either spot, we feel good about maybe plugging him in at either spot and having him compete with the guys on our roster. 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.”