In our March series of Enemy Intel articles, we examined the balance of power in the NFC East two weeks into free agency. This weekend, we’re going to take a look at the impact last month’s draft could have on the Eagles, Cowboys and Giants.
2012 record: 8-8, 3-3
Free agent activity: LB Justin Durant, S Will Allen
Draft picks: C Travis Frederick, TE Gavin Escobar, WR Terrance Williams, S J.J. Wilcox, CB B.W. Webb, RB Joseph Randle, OLB DeVonte Holloman
Updated 2013 outlook: After an underwhelming free agent period for the cap-strapped Cowboys, they confounded some observers by trading back and selecting center Travis Frederick with the 31st overall pick. They needed to bolster the interior line and this tough Wisconsin product already is penciled in as a starter. Some observers, though, question whether they reached too far to nab Frederick, who was projected as a third round (or so) talent.
The rest of the Cowboys’ draft, however, seemed to be solid. In fact, NFL.com graded each of the picks as an “eventual starter” who will contribute early on and “brings value to the position.”
Selecting tight end Gavin Escobar (San Diego State) in the second and wide receiver Terrance Williams (Baylor) in the third figures to provide Tony Romo with two more sure-handed pass catchers to complement Jason Witten, Dez Bryant and Miles Austin. The Cowboys’ offense ranked 15th in points per game last season (23.5).
The Cowboys also picked up a running back – Joseph Randle out of Oklahoma State – that their scouts had ranked as a third rounder. Owner/GM Jerry Jones recently said Randle is being counted upon to backup DeMarco Murray.
On defense, the secondary received a boost in the form of safety J.J. Wilcox (Georgia Southern) and cornerback B.W. Webb. Wilcox is expected to push for a starting job on a defense that ranked 19th against the pass last season.
But unless a Cowboys’ rookie (or two) enjoy an unforeseen breakout season – like the one Washington got from Alfred Morris last season – they don’t appear to have improved a whole lot, at least not in the short term. Our prediction: Romo and Co. will find themselves fighting for a playoff spot again at the end the 2013 season.