At the NFL Owners Meeting earlier this week, Jerry Jones spotted a microphone and a camera and promptly proceeded to share his thoughts about the draft with whoever wanted to listen in. In the course of the interview, Jones indicated that the Cowboys would probably target a defensive player at some of the 'premium' positions like CB, LB, DE or DT. He also talked about possibly trading out of the 14th pick. At the time, most Cowboys fans took that to mean the Cowboys were looking to trade down.
But what if the Cowboys are looking to trade up? The way the mocks are shaping up right now, the only surefire defensive players in the top ten at this point appear to be LSU CB Morris Claiborne and North Carolina DE Quinton Coples. It certainly didn't take long for the first rumors to surface that the Cowboys could be looking to trade up for Morris Claiborne.
The rumor was initially met with a lot of skepticism, for a number of different reasons: the potential cost of trading up (the Cowboys' first, second and third rounder) was felt to be too high; there were questions about how many starting corners the Cowboys would really need; there was skepticism regarding the source of the rumor as well as many other questions.
One potential option the Cowboys could be looking at if they want to go after Claiborne could be to include Cowboys CB Mike Jenkins as part of the trade-up package to get Claiborne. More after the break.
Our friend Long Ball was intrigued by the idea that the Cowboys could be talking to the Browns about trading up for Claiborne. Thinking "where there's smoke, there's fire", he investigated and reported back that the Cowboys and Browns were indeed talking "hypotheticals" and that the following two draft-day trade options could be under consideration:
1. If the Rams moved up from 6 to 4, and if Claiborne was still on the board, Dallas would send #14, Mike Jenkins and a conditional 4th round in 2013 that could become 3rd round to Cleveland for #6.
2. If the Browns stay at #4, Dallas would send #14, Mike Jenkins, Felix Jones and 2013 3rd round to Cleveland for #4.
According to Long Ball, both options received a positive initial response - until the Browns asked to include DeMarco Murray as part of the deal. The Cowboys apparently balked, and talks have ostensibly been tabled for the time being.
The Browns would be well advised to keep in mind that theirs is not the only game in town. The Rams have just let it be known that they are willing to move up or down from the No. 6 pick, Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes.
"I would think there's a very realistic possibility of moving," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said Wednesday. "It would probably be more realistic for us to move down than it would up."
Regardless of how much weight you put into all of this this - and we have no way of providing independent verification - at the very least these are two very intriguing trade options.
Offering Jenkins in a trade-up for Claiborne would solve a couple of issues in one go for the Cowboys: The Cowboys would avoid giving up too many draft picks; they'd replace a starting corner looking for a big payday soon with another starting corner who'll play on a rookie contract for four years; they'd avoid having to sit at least one starting caliber NFL corner on most downs - and they'd get a blue-chip prospect at corner in the process.
But if you've read this far, and find yourself thinking, "Close the deal, Jerry, close the deal!" it may worth keeping in mind that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. In fact, when I discussed this with Dave Halprin, he said:
"If either the Rams or Browns did those trades, I'd be doing cartwheels in excitement and immediately head for lottery tickets because we'd be the luckiest fans one earth."
But going strictly by the draft value chart, the 6th pick is worth 1,600 points. The Cowboys are offering their 14th (1,100) and possibly next year's third (the equivalent of this year's fourth, 68 points). That would put Jenkins' worth at about 432 points, the equivalent of a mid second-round pick. Similarly, the 4th overall pick is worth 200 points more than the 6th, so that would place Jones' value at about that of a mid third-round pick. Is that all really that unrealistic?
Either way, as you think about these options, what would be your advice for the Cowboys?