Lucas at Large: First round suits Frederick Center is the latest in long line of UW offensive linemen taken in the NFL draft
April 26, 2013
BY MIKE LUCAS UWBadgers.com
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin center Travis Frederick responded to the question - "What do you think you'd offer an NFL team?'' - like he might a bull-rushing nose guard. He squared up and took it straight on.
"I think I offer a physical, tough, tenacious player; an all-around player,'' Frederick replied. "I think I'm a really good run blocker and in the pass game, I'm really good at anchoring inside.
"At guard, I'd be a road-grader type run-blocker. I've got a good head on my shoulders, which is going to allow me to pick up a system quickly. I'm excited to figure out how my life is going to change.''
Frederick got that life-changing answer late in the first round of Thursday night's draft when he was selected by the Dallas Cowboys with the 31st overall pick. That exceeded his expectations.
On Monday, he conceded that he had seen a few mock drafts on Twitter. On what round he thought he might be taken, he said, "Some people say two, some people say four, some people say six.''
Frederick kept everything in perspective.
"It all depends on what that particular person likes or doesn't like about you and what kind of highlights they've seen,'' he said of the "draft'' savants. "Maybe they've seen just one game.
"I was able to get a sense,'' Frederick said, "of what it takes to get from Point A to Point B.''
Frederick is represented by Joe Panos, a former UW offensive lineman. In 1993, Panos was the author of one of the great walk-on stories in school history by leading the Badgers to the Rose Bowl.
Panos is doing quite well for himself today as an agent. Among his clients are Zeitler, a first-round selection of the Bengals in 2012, and tackle Tyron Smith, a first-round pick of the Cowboys last year.
Frederick, who played in three Rose Bowls, probably had the same dream as Panos. As a youngster, he dreamed of becoming a professional football player.
"But I had a teacher in the fourth or fifth grade that kind of squashed that dream,'' said Frederick, who grew up in Sharon, Wis. "I was told that I would never play football in the NFL.''
Upon further review, he said, "It was the best thing for me. It was always something that stuck in the back of my head as I focused on academics and the opportunities seemed to grow and grow.''
(Frederick has carried a double-major in computer engineering and computer science.)
"In high school (Big Foot), I just wanted to play in college. And once I was in college, you start thinking about that dream and you're hoping that you can perform at a high enough level to get there.''
In Dallas, Frederick will come under the wing of offensive line coach Bill Callahan, 56, one of the original members of Barry Alvarez's coaching staff at Wisconsin in the early `90s.
Frederick is prepared to play either center or guard.
"It will depend on the team's need,'' he said. "That's what makes it good for me that I can play both. Generally a team is going to need one or the other, if not both.
"That's going to give you the opportunity hopefully to get on the field a little faster. With how small the rosters are now, they can only really travel seven or eight offensive linemen.
"So you have an extra tackle who can play both sides and you have an extra guy in the middle that can play the inside positions. You have to have some versatility on the line.''
Despite getting panned for a slow 40 time at the Combine, he never let it bother him. "Game speed is completely different than running a 40,'' he told anyone who would listen.
Monday, he reiterated, "The 40 is not a good barometer for my level of play.''
He also made it clear, "I'm a player who plays at 325 (pounds). That's who I am.''
Frederick had just gotten done working out with teammate Ricky Wagner on Monday. Going into his senior year, Wagner was projected as a potential first round draft choice at tackle. His stock has dropped since.
"We always work out together,'' Frederick said. "It's nice to have someone so you're not working out by yourself. We'll push each other and get a little extra work in here and there.
"We're both trying to get back into football shape. Before the Combine, you were doing a different kind of running - specific drills - running to be fast. It's nice to get back to our roots.''
The Cowboys are getting a super-strong, super-intelligent offensive lineman who will anchor his position, whatever it may be, for years to come; draft critics and grade school teachers be damned.