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Travis Frederick following Badger tracks to NFL
(The opinions and analysis contained in this feature are those of the author and others credited and do not necessarily represent the thoughts and opinions of the Seahawks’ coaching staff and personnel department)
|BEST OF THE BUNCH|
A look at the position heading into the April 25-27 NFL Draft
Rankings (position/overall) and projections by Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com
|ANALYZING THE DRAFT CLASS|
The word: That’s no mirage. Rang’s three top players, and four of his top six, are O-linemen. Mike Mayock, draft analyst for the NFL Network, concurs and then some. Asked which players in this draft class are worthy of being the first pick overall, Mayock said, “Four guys: Warmack, Cooper, Joeckel and Fisher.” A guard as the first overall pick? “Chance Warmack from Alabama is the best football player I saw on tape this year,” Mayock offered. “And Jonathan Cooper from North Carolina is just a tiny notch behind him. As a matter of fact, Cooper’s probably a better athlete.”
What about: Barrett Jones. The Alabama center is the top-rated player at that position, but not limited to that position. Jones (6-4, 306) started games at right guard (25), center (14) and left tackle (10) during his career with the Crimson Tide. He won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s top lineman in 2011 while playing left tackle. He moved to center last season, replacing three-year starter William Vlachoes, and won the Rimington Award as the nation’s top center. Where will be play in the NFL? “I’ll play whatever position I’m asked to play,” Jones told the Associated Press after his Pro Day workout. “If you made me chose, I’d probably chose center right now because No. 1, I played there last year; and No. 2, I’m kind of a control freak. I like to be in control. If we’re watching TV together, I like to hold the remote. That’s the kind of guy I am.”
Don’t forget about: Kyle Long. The 6-6, 313-pound son of Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long and brother of Chris Long, the former first-round draft choice and defensive end for the St. Louis Rams, is the most athletic member of the family. And that’s according to Howie and Chris. And Kyle did have a mid-90 mph fastball as a left-handed pitcher at Florida State. When he decided football was the sport he wanted to pursue, he went to Saddleback JC for two years, playing defensive end for a season before moving to the O-line. “He’s a special story. There’s a lot to that story,” Mike Munchak, the Hall of Fame O-lineman who now coaches the Titans, said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “Obviously he's done very well for himself. He's put himself in this position very quickly, which means he is a special athlete that you can do things like that. I'm sure he's going to get a lot of attention, because a lot of teams like us are trying to figure out exactly where he's at in his development as an offensive lineman. … But definitely he's someone that catches your eye and has done a nice job for himself, and it's a good thing to see.”
Seahawks situation: In their first three drafts together, GM John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll have selected five O-linemen – Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung in the first round in 2010; guards James Carpenter and John Moffitt as their top two picks in 2011; and former D-tackle J.R. Sweezy in the seventh round last year, when he started the final two regular season games and both playoff games at right guard. But don’t be surprised if they address the unit again with at least one of their 10 picks in this year’s draft.
When people find out that Travis Frederick went to Big Foot High School, the ensuing question is as expected as the response that follows the question is humorous.
“They ask if Big Foot is the Sasquatch, and if I was actually the mascot,” Frederick said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “That’s generally the normal thing that I get.”
That will happen when you’re 6 feet 4, weigh 338 pounds and sport a beard and long hair.
“The beard, the big stature, things like that,” said Frederick.
Actually, Frederick was a big part of the football team at Big Foot High in Sharon, Wis. – population roughly 1,600 people. Oh, and they’re the Chiefs, named after Chief Big Foot. Not the Sasquatch, named after you-know-who.
And Frederick’s status as one of the top-rated centers in the 2013 NFL Draft has made him a big man in Sharon all over again.
“They spend hours and days recruiting and scouting to find out exactly who you are,” he explained. “I’m getting calls from people from my hometown. It’s the biggest thing ever. The NFL called and checked on my background or something like that.
“Everybody back home is really excited. It’s a great opportunity.”
The excitement should reach Sasquatch-sized proportions on April 26, when Frederick is projected to be selected in the second round of the draft.
But who is this guy? What are NFL teams discovering when they check with the folks back in Sharon?
Frederick, who had a double major at Wisconsin in computer engineering and computer science, could be labeled a nerd. But Badgers left tackle Ricky Wagner advises against that.
“He’s too big to be called a nerd,” Wagner told Fox Sports Wisconsin. “I think he would do some damage.”
Frederick also could be called a legacy, seeing as how he’s following the path to the NFL blazed by former Badger offensive linemen Joe Thomas, the third pick overall in the 2007 draft by the Cleveland Browns; Peter Konz, a second-round draft choice by the Atlanta Falcons last year; Kevin Zeitler, a first-round pick by the Cincinnati Bengals last year; Gabe Carimi, a first-round draft choice by the Chicago Bears in 2011; and John Moffitt, a third-round draft choice by the Seahawks in 2011.
“It’s a dream come true to be here,” Frederick said when asked about carrying on the tradition of Badger linemen. “I was a young player coming out of a 550-kid high school in a little town in Wisconsin. To grow up and have an opportunity like this is a dream come true.
“I didn’t have a lot of offers going into college or anything like that. I was kind of a non-recruited player and got a chance. Wisconsin gave me a great chance and then prepared me extremely well for this opportunity. So you want to be able to do everything you can to give back to that program that’s given you so much.”
While at Wisconsin, Frederick blocked for Montee Ball, one of the top-rated running backs in this draft class who ran for 3,753 yards and 55 touchdowns the past two seasons; and Russell Wilson, the Seahawks’ third-round pick last year who outplayed the more highly touted quarterbacks in last year’s draft class during his rookie season.
So when it came time to decide whether to return to Wisconsin for his senior season or declare himself eligible for the draft, Frederick leaned on the past Badger linemen.
“It was an important part to me to be able to reach out to the other Wisconsin alumni that are in the NFL and get their experience, one, in the NFL; and two, their experience at the combine and just what it takes to move from a college player to a professional,” Frederick said.
“All those guys presented some really good advice and helped me get to where I am today.”
And that would be, a prospect who started at guard and center for a high-profile program.
“I think Frederick goes in the second round,” said Mike Mayock, draft analyst for the NFL Network. “Big, strong kid. Gets push. Smart and tough. The fact that he’s a Wisconsin offensive lineman is going to help him. That’s a positive thing to be in today’s NFL.”
The fact that he’s also a Big Foot alum? Well, that’s a story in itself.