Sit tight, move up, move down: Those are the mutually exclusive yet collectively exhaustive options the Cowboys have with their first-round pick. Todd Archer reported this in an exclusive scoop three weeks ago, and it is to his investigative prowess that we owe the title of this post:
Breaking: Cowboys could trade up, trade down or stay at No. 16.— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) April 17, 2014
Building on Archer's work, David Moore, Rainer Sabin, and Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News launched a three-part series of articles that looks at each option in detail.
Sabin's strategy is one of risk avoidance. He argues that because the draft strategy was likely developed with the assumption of the Cowboys making the 16th pick, any deviation from that strategy would entail greater, perhaps even "catastrophic" risk.
Taking the path of least resistance, after all, often entails doing nothing. It’s the easiest recourse. Accepting the cards dealt and making the best of the present situation, without trying to change circumstance, simplifies everything. The chances of making a catastrophic error will be reduced because there will be fewer adjustments brought on by a last-minute deal.
After a subtle stab at his colleague ("Those prone to inertia") Moore argues that while "depth is a valuable commodity," teams should not look for depth at the expense of an impact player. Instead, they should look to add blue-chip players to their roster. In the Cowboys' case, those blue-chip players would be defensive linemen Anthony Barr or Aaron Donald.
Moving up Thursday [...] has to do with acquiring a blue-chip talent to address a crying need in the defensive line.
Depth is a valuable commodity, but not at the expense of an impact player. If the Cowboys believe Barr or Donald can make an immediate impact, if they believe the drop to the next plateau is significant, trade up.
George argues that the Cowboys are not "one player away" and need quality depth at just about every position, hence the need to acquire more picks.
The Cowboys cashed in last year by turning their first-round pick into what’s become two starters. [...] Yes, the Cowboys have 11 picks in this year’s draft (the most since 12 in 2009), but six are in the seventh round. It’s a deep draft, and the Cowboys need more higher-round picks to address their many holes.
Another two-for-one deal like they pulled off last year in their trade down is the only way to go in the first round.
So there you have it. All three options neatly laid out. On Thursday, the Cowboys will select one of those three options. But which one will it be? Which one should it be?