O.K., in a attempt to be a realist about this draft, I'm going to start with an assumption. I'm going to start with the assumption that this draft is like other drafts--that a second rounder picked in 2014 will have about the same value as a second rounder in 2013, 2012, or 2011.
Given this assumption, it is clear that we can't expect the team to improve dramatically in every round. Rather, we are drafting for depth, for youth, for rotation, and for the possibility that in the future some of these picks will become regular starters. One or two, unexpectedly, may be the sorts of difference-makers that make the Pro Bowl--maybe.
With that reality firmly in view, with a middle-of-the-round drafting position, and with the prevalence of draft-day trades for all team managers (especially Jerry Jones), I see two interesting options for the Cowboys in the early rounds. Obviously there are other options (such as staying put or drafting another TE), but these two sound realistic, positive options.
Option 1: With a creative trade-down, we end up with three picks that are round 2 or above. We use those picks (in a perfect world) with 3 of the solid second-tier linemen. That's right, we address the trenches. We get the likes of Dominique or Daquan, Laurence or Stephon. We get a second-round guard.
But this is realism. So it turns out that all three of our choices are decent, but not great, players. In their first season, they prove to be about as good as, but no better than, our current linemen--unable to take the job away from Free-Bernie-Fredbeard-Leary-Tron, or from Selvie/Mincie-Melton-Bass/Crawford-Spencer. Our trenches just got deeper, younger, cheaper, more talented. Maybe in the future one of these guys will become something special. But this year, we don't really see an increase in O-line strength or D-line strength from our draftees. At least, not when our primary starters are healthy.
Option 2: With a not-so-creative trade-up, we end up with one pick in the first two rounds. But this one pick nets us Mack. He lives up to realistic expectations--he is not another Ware (all time great, first round HOF) but he is immediately more special than anyone on our current D-line. Downside is obvious: we watch good players fly off the boards while waiting for our 3rd round pick to come around.
So which option do you think is more likely to happen? And which would make you happier as a Cowboys fan?