Just when it looked like the Big 10 was going to go without a first round pick for the first time since 1953, along came the Dallas Cowboys. With the 31st overall pick in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday, the Cowboys selected Wisconsin center Travis Frederick.
Frederick is the third Wisconsin center that Dallas has drafted since 2003. The Cowboys selected Al Johnson in the second round of the 2003 draft and former Badger center Bill Nagy in the seventh round of the 2011 draft. Neither player is still with the team.
Frederick was projected by most draft analysts to go in the second round and even he was somewhat surprised to be taken in the first round, "I thought somewhere in the second round would be more of a fit for me," Frederick told 105.3 the Fan in Dallas. "I truly didn't expect this."
Picking a center in the first round may not be popular, but for a team that used six different centers last year, it makes sense.
Frederick started in all 14 games at center last season for the Badgers and played well enough to earn first team All-Big 10 honors.
The 6-4, 338-pound linemen has the ability to play all over the line. In 2011, Frederick started 11 games at left guard along with two games at center. Frederick also split time at left guard and center during his freshman year in 2009 when he started two games at each position.
Running behind Frederick and the Badger line, Wisconsin running backs ran for 236.4 yards per game last season, a number that ranked third in the Big 10 and 13th in the nation.
One of Frederick's strengths is that he's mobile, something that NFLDraftScout.com's Dane Brugler noted in his predraft rankings, "Mobile enough to get to the second level and block in space. Thick upper body with the base strength to anchor off the snap and hold his ground." The Cowboys will be looking for consistency at center next season and Frederick could supply that.
The 2013 NFL draft marks the third year in a row a Wisconsin center has been drafted. Bill Nagy was taken in the seventh round by the Cowboys in 2011, he was followed by Peter Konz, who was taken by the Falcons in the second round in 2012.
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