Dallas Wins A Coin Flip And So Much More! OK, A Little More

Ethan Miller

The Cowboys are playing a high stakes game for the future careers of a lot of people. And it all hinges on... a quarter!

Really? We're going to make a big deal over a quarter? Yup, we sure are.

I grew up in the arcade age, where quarters were everything. I can't tell you how many times I dropped a shiny GW into Paperboy, or Gauntlet, or Punch-Out, or going back as far as Donkey Kong, Qix, Ms. Pac-Man... pinball games such as Whirlwind and Terminator 2. I remember tearing through couch cushions and lifting furniture to see if I could scrounge up some additional currency. Quarters rule.

For accuracy purposes, it wasn't really a quarter today; the coin had the logos of the each team on opposite sides. So we'll consider it a token!

Didn't you hate those arcades where you had to use tokens that were worth 25 cents, instead of a quarter? That way, if you changed a dollar, you used up all four tokens before you left as opposed to being able to spend the remaining quarters elsewhere. Sneaky bastards.

Early this morning, Dallas started off its 2014 offseason with a win of sorts. As Dave already pointed out, the Cowboys came out on top in a coin flip that determined who would have the earlier pick between the Baltimore Ravens and the Cowboys. Thanks to their fortune, Dallas will pick 16th in this May's first round; a position they've never before drafted from. The Ravens will select 17th.

So what does it mean? Well, it's a lot more than just the determination of those two spots in the first round.

Due to the rotation of all teams with similar records, Dallas remains at the top of the rotation through the first two days of the draft. Dallas will pick 16th in Round 1, while having the 15th pick of Round 2 and the 14th pick of Round 3. This is key, because compensatory picks are awarded at the end of each round, starting with the third. For Round 4, they will drop to the bottom of the six-team rotation of teams that ended with 8-8 records (Chicago, Pittsburgh, Dallas, Baltimore, NY Jets, Miami). That's a lot of quarters sitting on the lip of the game screen.

Ever get in a fight over who put whose quarter up first and had next at a popular game? Just me? We digress.

Dallas was in the coin flip because they were tied with Baltimore, ending with identical strength of schedule marks, the tiebreaker for similar records.

But winning the flip did more than give Dallas the advantage of choice in those rounds. It also gives Dallas added leverage from a couple perspectives. First, Dallas and Baltimore are teams that are seen to have different needs at the top of their priorities. If Dallas were to be looking to move back in the draft, they could do so with little concern that Baltimore would be zeroing in on one of their targets.

Teams with similar interest as the Ravens, let's say targeting a pass catcher such as Eric Ebron, Mike Evans or Marquise Lee, could try to leap frog Baltimore into Dallas' spot. Also, many times when people envision trading back they think of gigantic drops, like last year's 18th to 31st. That doesn't have to be the case. Dallas could slink back two or three spots based on who is left on their board and feel more comfortable the main guy they are targeting would still be available.

The other perspective is that of the bounty Dallas would be looking to bring in should they move back. Take a look at the value difference between the slots Dallas currently has and what they could have ended up with. If you're using the Harvard Trade Chart, the change is basically inconsequential. However, using the Old Cowboys Trade Chart, which some teams still do, the differences could be rather impactful.

Round Current Pick Alternative JJ Chart Harvard Chart
1 16 17 50 pts
5.2 pts
2 15 16 10 1.5
3 14 15 5 0.9
4 19 14 -10 -3.5
5 18 19 0.4 0.5
7 16 17 0.4 0.4

You ever play one of those arcade games where you could power up by adding another quarter in the middle of your game? Pow!

50 points is the value of a mid-fourth rounder. 10 points is the value of a 7th rounder. So say a team wanted to move up to Dallas' spot in the first round, for example Cleveland looking to move up from 26th. Whereas they might have only offered their 3rd rounder to make the move before (700+235 vs 950), they'd now be looking at throwing in the 122nd pick as well (700+235+50 vs 1000).

If someone wants to trade up to Dallas' 2nd round slot? Go ahead, throw in that extra 7th rounder for good measure.

It might not seem like much, but look at the players that CBS Sports has ranked within +/- 10 of the 122nd pick (worth 50 points): OT JuWuan James, WR Josh Huff, DE Michael Sam, CB EJ Gaines, OG Anthony Steen, DE Will Clarke, CB Rashaad Reynolds, QB Aaron Murray, DT Caraun Reid. Wouldn't it be nice to get one of those players for "a quarter"?

And of course, if Dallas chooses to stay put, they simply get the better choice in the first round.

So yeah, I will make a big deal out of a quarter. Good job, Dallas, good effort!

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