Please, put down your torches and pitchforks for a moment and hear me out. I’m not saying this would be my ideal situation, but it’s interesting to think about. The other day on The Draft Show they brought up a scenario where all of Dallas’ top rated DL/OL/S guys are off the board by 18, and asked if people would be furious if they took Tavon Austin.
At first I was totally against it, but the more I thought about it the more it could make sense. Now, I’m not too familiar with him, but let’s assume he’s the best WR on the Cowboys board. Say we’re sitting there at 18 and our choice is between our top rated WR or our 3rd/4th rated DL/OL (who may not even have a 1st round grade), or trying to trade back.
“That’s obvious,” you say. “We’re good at receiver, and have other needs. Trade back for anything you can get!” That was my immediate reaction too. But look at how that worked out in 09. “Nah, we’re stacked at RB. We’ve got Barber, Jones and Choice! We have too many other needs. Let’s trade back and stockpile some picks!” We might just be looking at another Lesean McCoy debacle here.
Let’s say Dez ends up as the Barber in this scenario, and can’t live up to his brief flash of greatness. Austin pulls a Jones, and continues to be plagued by injuries and can’t really be relied on as your #1 guy. And Harris, as much as I like him, could still end up being a Choice – a fan favorite that shows some promise in his limited opportunities, but never manages to put it all together. And we maybe picked up an extra 3rd (or 2nd if we’re lucky), but they’re no sure thing. Three or four years from now we could be sitting there complaining about our mediocre and injury-prone receiving corps and lamenting the complete busts we wasted our 2nd/3rd round picks on, and complaining that our idiot GM traded away from a potentially excellent player (who maybe went to the Giants one pick later and has blown us up for several seasons now) and we got nothing out of it.
Sure, that’s the absolute worst case scenario, but even if none of that comes to pass there is still some potential benefit here. Dez and Dwayne will both hit free agency in 2015. Sure, the way Dallas does things they’ll probably be signed to extensions by then. But what if one (or both) refuse, thinking they can get a better offer if they test the market? You know who else’s contracts will be up then? Bruce Carter and Tyron Smith. Oh, and to make things worse let’s say the year before they couldn’t sign Sean Lee long term and used the franchise tag on him. Since we tend to live on the edge with the salary cap, what if we just don’t have the money to keep Dez, Harris, Tyron, Lee and Carter, and we have to let at least one of them go. Wouldn’t this (horrible, dreadful) decision be slightly less painful if we knew we had another WR with first-round talent on the roster who’s already had two seasons to get a good feel for the system? Who, by the way, is locked up for another three years on a relatively cap-friendly rookie contract?
All that said, this isn’t my ideal situation to be in. I would be much happier if the best guy on our board is an absolute monster of a Guard or Tackle, and we don’t even have to think about this (and again, I’m not too familiar with Tavon Austin, so I’m just working off of the assumption that he would be worthy of a mid-first round pick). But it’s worth keeping an open mind about – every year we insist that Dallas needs to start drafting smarter, take the BPA approach, build through the draft, focus on the long term… but then draft time comes around and we all scream bloody murder about how we need to draft X position early to fill a need.
(originally posted this as a comment here, but a couple of people suggested it might make a good fan post)