Frederick Heading to 'America's Team'

Becoming the 15th Wisconsin offensive lineman to be selected in the NFL Draft since 2000, former Badgers center Travis Frederick was selected by the Dallas Cowboys with the team's 31st pick in the first round Thursday.

As he analyzed his recruiting process following his junior season at Walworth Big Foot, Travis Frederick wanted to go to a school that, first and foremost, offered him a great athletic and social background.

But after those two qualities, Frederick, like most aspiring football players, wanted to go to a program that gave him the best opportunity to play in the NFL.

"The history of Wisconsin offensive linemen playing at the next level is tremendous," said Frederick. "I wanted the opportunity to be a part of that."

Frederick received that opportunity on Thursday when he was selected with the 31st pick in the NFL Draft's first round by the Dallas Cowboys. It's the third straight year a Wisconsin player has been taken in the first round.

"It's going to be a great fit down there in Dallas," said Frederick, who watched the draft at his home in Sharon and admitted he was surprised by the early selection. "I am excited for a chance to get down there. I think that it's a great team that's just sitting and waiting. It's going to really jump up here and have a great shot to compete for a Super Bowl championship."

Frederick becomes the 15th Wisconsin offensive lineman to be selected in the NFL Draft since 2000 – the most of any school in the country over that time period. That list includes former teammate Bill Nagy, who was drafted in the seventh round by Dallas in 2011.

Just as impressive, Frederick becomes the 10th of those 15 to be selected in the top 100 picks (which is tied for first with USC).

Regarded as the top center in the draft, Frederick weighed in a 6-4 and 312 pounds at the NFL scouting Combine, but had a time of 5.58 in the 40-yard dash that tied for the second slowest among linemen who ran the 40. He was also well below average on the bench press, doing 21 repetitions at 225 pounds.

Despite those numbers, Fox Sports NFL Draft analyst Jamie Newberg had no problem ranking him as the draft's top center.

"Frederick possesses good feet, can play with that nasty Badger attitude and is a good drive blocker," said Newberg. "He's the best true center in this draft."

In three years at Wisconsin, Frederick started 18 games at center (including all 14 during 2012) and 13 at left guard. He became the first true freshman offensive lineman to start a season opener in 2009, was elected a captain this past season and was a key component on Wisconsin's 2011 and 2012 Big Ten championship teams.

"Bret (Bielema) said it years ago that pound for pound he's the strongest guy he's ever coached," said Joe Panos, former All-American lineman at Wisconsin who is now Frederick's agent. "He's built like a safe. His weight-room strength carries over to the football field, and that's hard to do. He shows it every snap."

A consensus second-team All-Big Ten selection as a sophomore and a first-team selection by the media last season, Frederick said his ability to run block, block guys one-on-one and be sound in pass protection will help him in the NFL. He also could add his ability to adapt, as he played for three different offensive line coaches during his four seasons.

That's perfect for the Cowboys and offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Bill Callahan, a former UW assistant coach under Barry Alvarez. Dallas used six different centers in a disappointing 8-8 season.

"I think am very good at both (guard and center) and what really helps me is I can play both," said Frederick. "With today's NFL rosters being so small, it definitely helps having a guy who can play both … I try to play the game a little bit more relaxed, more cerebral so I can see what's going on and make changes if I have to."

The 2013 draft will certainly be known as the lineman draft. After only one offensive lineman was selected in the first 22 picks of the 2012 draft, four of the first seven picks and eight of the top 20 this year were offensive linemen, two firsts in the history of the draft. Nine linemen were selected overall.

Frederick was the fourth interior guard selected in the draft. North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper was the first off the board, picked seventh overall by Arizona, the highest guard to be selected that high since 1986 (Brian Jozwiak).

And while he was the only Big Ten player selected in the first round, Frederick will now try to outperform those 30 players deemed better than him.

"We really wanted to bolster up the center of our line," Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones told Frederick on the phone, "and you'll do that for us."

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