A (brief) history of Cowboys' draft day trades

When I first tried the mock draft challenge on BTB, I made a note that although the rules prevented trading down it seems to be the most likely scenario for the boys on draft day (a sentiment seemingly shared by a majority of fellow BTB'ers). And today there was a post by BTB resident columnist Tom Ryle (BTB Answers! A Look At Trade Down Options For The Cowboys) that explored various trade down options along with potential partners. And this made me wonder about the draft day strategy employed by the 'Boys in the past, i.e. whether they traded up, down, stood pat or traded away picks to acquire a veteran player. I also wanted to see which teams the 'Boys have traded in the past. The objective was to identify if there was any one team with which the boys traded more frequently than others.

For the purposes of this exercise, I looked at the past 20 drafts going back to 1993 at Pro Sports Transactions. I then created a table with information on what the "Boys' original pick was, what type of trade occurred (if one did), who the trade partner was and what picks were traded. As with any such analysis, I had to limit the extent of research or risk getting drowned in data (frankly I'm amazed by the amount of research and stats that folks like Stats Inc., PFF and Advanced NFL Stats to name a few are able to deliver). They are as follows:

  • I limited the research to first round picks only, and
  • I only looked at the first trade and ignored any subsequent second- or third-level trade of a pick (Example: Team A trades for Team B's first round pick and then trades it to Team C)

This is what came out

1993 29 DOWN GREEN BAY PACKERS Traded 1993 first round pick and 1993 fourth round pick for Packers' two 1993 second round picks, 1993 fourth round pick and 1993 eighth round pick
1994 23 DOWN SAN FRANSISCO 49ERS Traded 1994 first round pick and 1994 second round pick to 49ers for 1994 first round pick and 1994 seventh round pick
1995 28 DOWN TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS Traded 1995 first round pick to Buccaneers for two 1995 second round picks
1996 30 DOWN WASHINGTON REDSKINS Traded 1996 first round pick to Redskins for 1996 second round pick and 1996 third round pick
1997 25 UP PHILADELPHIA EAGLES Traded 1997 first round pick, 1997 fifth round pick and 1998 third round pick to Eagles for 1997 first round pick
1998 8 NONE N/A N/A
1999 22 UP SEATTLE SEAHAWKS Traded 1999 first round pick and 1999 fifth round pick to Seahawks for 1999 first round pick
2000 19 AWAY SEATTLE SEAHAWKS Traded 2000 first round pick and 2001 first round pick for Joey Galloway
2001 7 SEE ABOVE
2002 6 DOWN KANSAS CITY CHIEFS Traded 2002 first round pick to Chiefs for 2002 first round pick, 2002 third round pick and 2003 sixth round pick
2003 5 NONE N/A N/A
2004 22 DOWN BUFFALO BILLS Traded 2004 first round pick to Bills for 2004 second round pick, 2004 fifth round pick and 2005 first round pick
2005 11 NONE N/A N/A
2006 18 NONE N/A N/A
2007 22 DOWN CLEVELAND BROWNS 2007 first round pick to Browns for 2007 second round pick and 2008 first round pick
2007 UP PHILADELPHIA EAGLES Traded 2007 second round pick (from Browns), 2007 third round pick and 2007 fifth round pick to Eagles for 2007 first round pick
2008 28 UP SEATTLE SEAHAWKS Traded 2008 first round pick, 2008 fifth round pick and 2008 seventh round pick to Seahawks for 2008 first round pick
2009 20 AWAY DETROIT LIONS Traded 2009 first round pick, 2009 third round pick and 2009 sixth round pick to Lions for Roy Williams and 2009 seventh round pick
2010 27 UP NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS Traded 2010 first round pick and 2010 third round pick to Patriots for 2010 first round pick and 2010 fourth round pick
2011 9 NONE N/A N/A
2012 14 UP ST LOUIS RAMS Traded 2012 first round pick and 2012 second round pick to Rams for 2012 first round pick

The following points become evident from the table:

  • Trade Downs: 6 times
  • Trade Ups: 5 times
  • 1 year in which they traded down and then up (2007)
  • No trades: 5 times
  • Traded away picks: 3

Prior to 1999, the 'Boys always seemed interested in trading down. That strategy produced mixed results with the low point coming in 1995 when they traded down with the Bucs who then used the pick to select Derrick Brooks (who went on to become a star in Monte Kiffin's Tampa-2 scheme for the next decade). However, in recent years (since 2007) the 'Boys seem to have altered course and traded up in the first round. With the exception of Felix Jones, I'd say they did well when they traded up (jury's still out on Mike Jenkins).

The two times the 'Boys traded away their first round picks, they paid dearly both in terms of lost value and horrendous production from the players acquired (2000 and 2001 picks for Joey Galloway and 2009 pick for Roy Williams).

As far as trade partners, the 'Boys don't seem to have any problems dialing in any team in the league. And there does not seem to be any one clear favorite when it comes to a trading partner. The team with whom the 'Boys have traded most in the first round in the past 20 years were the Seattle Seahawks (3 times). Also, the 'Boys seem to find willing partners to trade within the division, with the exception of the New York Giants (and that must be purely coincidental). All in all, the 'Boys seem to have a decent record scoring quality picks when they trade up or stay pat, but not so much when they trade down. It remains to be seen how they fare in the upcoming draft.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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