With the NFL Combine in the books for 2012, fans' thoughts turn even more to what will happen in the draft, especially with the first round pick. The Dallas Cowboys have the fourteenth overall selection, as I am sure you are well aware.
One of the outcomes of the Combine is that there will be some reshuffling of the expected order for the top picks as some players put in better than expected performances and others were disappointing. Dallas sits in a bit of an uncertain position. Fourteen is just outside of the expected "sure thing" picks this year, but still high enough that the team should expect good value, namely a player that can come in and be an immediate starter. But there is always another option, to trade down and get more choices. The draft does have some depth this year at cornerback, defensive back,outside linebacker and offensive guard, all positions of need for the Cowboys. Some of the regular commenters are starting to advocate doing just that, particularly if the players they like, such as David DeCastro and Dre Kirkpatrick, are already gone.
Trading down can be a good move. The St Louis Rams are openly shopping the number two pick, which will likely go for Robert Griffin III, to move back while staying in the top six or eight and stockpiling some other high value picks both in this year and next year's draft. Since they have faith in Sam Bradford as their quarterback, this could be the kind of move that could greatly improve their team, the way the San Diego Chargers did in 2004 by trading the rights to Eli Manning and getting Philip Rivers, Shawne Merriman and Nate Kaeding, all of whom have been pretty successful as well.
But the fourteenth pick is not nearly as valuable. Is there any logic to trading down this year, or would it just be too likely to resemble the 2009 Cowboys draft fiasco?
The arguments after the jump.
That infamous "special teams draft" is in itself a very strong argument to not go down that path again. But in this case, the proposal is not to move entirely out of the first round, but to drop back a few places while acquiring another decent value pick to take advantage of some of the depth I mentioned. It would be based on a situation where there was not a clear cut best player available when Dallas came up, but four or five players that the team had rated about equally. Then it would make sense to trade down as long as the team stayed at a position where it would still get one of those players.
This means that the Cowboys would have to look at who the trade partners are likely to be. The next five teams after the Cowboys, as the order now stands, are the Eagles, the Jets, the Bengals, the Chargers, and the Bears.
This is where the changing perceptions of prospects at the Combine could come into play. One of the players getting some interest for the Eagles, at least with their fan base, is Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Todd McShay of Scouts Inc. thinks that he is one player that may well rocket up the draft boards. Seen by most as the third best quarterback in the draft and a late first to second round pick prior to the combine, Tannehill strikes McShay as perhaps worthy of a top ten pick. If he doesn't quite go that high and is still available when Dallas comes up, he could be a target for the Eagles - and maybe for one of the other teams right behind them. Suddenly, Dallas could be looking at a trade offer to swap places with, say, the Jets if they are thinking they need an alternative to Mark Sanchez. They are at least thinking about the idea, and a move to grab Tannehill is certainly likely to be cheaper than going after Peyton Manning. If they were willing to give up their sixteenth pick and pick 108, which would be in Dallas' favor according to the standard draft value calculation, would that be worth it for Dallas? The move down two positions, if there are four or five equivalent options still on the board, would be fairly low risk. Plus you would get to stick it to the Eagles.
This is all highly speculative, of course, but just meant to illustrate a scenario where trading down is possibly a pretty good idea. That extra fourth round pick might bring a pretty good player, and the team would lose almost nothing. And with the expected compensatory pick in the fourth giving them three picks that round to play with, Dallas might be able to trade back up into the third or even the second round
But would even that or a similar situation, say the Bengals offering their picks seventeen and 116, a pretty much dead even draft value, still be a good move?
The question could come down to how much faith you have in your own draft board. With thirteen players gone, can you point to one of the remaining prospects and say he is the best player available?
I think that at that point, the team should be able to do just that. This is a point where the scouting department needs to earn their money. Maybe 2009 makes me a little gunshy - OK, it definitely makes me a lot gunshy. It is not time to get cute. If someone starts agitating in the Dallas War Room for a trade, then I hope some cooler heads will prevail and squash that idea. This is a place for the often mentioned process of Jason Garrett to take hold. In later rounds, the evaluations are understandably less precise, but in the upper half of the first round, the rank order should be solid. I am still hoping that DeCastro is still there and is the top man on the Cowboys' board, but if he is not, they need to know who is the best remaining, and that name needs to go up.
As always, it is my opinion, but I am one who will be disappointed by what it says about the way things are being run if the team starts wheeling and dealing with their first round pick.
And now for something completely different: How old is too old for a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader? Would you like a 55 year-old grandmother representing the best (and best looking) cheerleading squad in the world?
Before you answer, take a look at Sharon Simmons, who wants to do just that.
Man, my concept of grandmas is being seriously adjusted.