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NFL Draft 2012: Simulating Cowboys Trade Down Scenarios With

On Friday last week, BTB's own rabblerousr proposed a couple of trade down scenarios for the Cowboys. On Saturday, in a poll of mock drafts here on BTB, the mock draft garnered 47% of the votes to walk away with the win.

Today we're going to combine those two seemingly unconnected posts. Trade down scenarios often look good on paper, but until you get a feeling for which players you're giving up, and which players you're possibly getting in return, it's hard to judge these options.

And that's where Drafttek comes in. They have a free online tool called the Online Draft Simulator (ODS) that allows you to compile your own seven-round mock draft. What we'll do today is we'll feed three of rabble's nine trade down options into the ODS and see what the Drafttek supercomputer comes up with. And we'll compare those options against the latest Drafttek mock draft.

The ODS allows users to produce a computer generated model of the 2012 NFL Draft. The base elements the model works with are Drafttek's Big Board as well as team needs for each NFL team as compiled by the Drafttek staff. The data is regularly updated, and users can either stick with the preset values, or make changes along three key input variables: draft order, team needs and a grab or lockout feature that allows users to bypass the program logic. After making changes (if desired), the user can then generate a 7-round mock draft.

We'll soon have a series of posts where I'll talk about different draft strategies and then execute those strategies on the ODS. Along the way, I'll provide a more detailed overview of how the ODS works. For now, I'm not going to bother you with positional priorities, grabs or lockout codes, we'll just run the trade down scenarios against the Drafttek big board and the team needs of 31 other teams competing for the same talent the Cowboys are.

Below are three of rabble's nine trade down scenarios, which I picked because they all give the Cowboys an extra second rounder:

First and a second:

  • Cincinnati 21 + 53 (1170) for Dallas 14 + 113 (1168)
  • Detroit 23 + 54 (1120) for Dallas 14+ 186 (1118)
  • Pittsburgh 24 + 56 + 159 (1108.8) for Dallas 14 + 222 (1103.6)

And just as a reminder, here's Drafttek's latest mock draft.

1st Round 2nd Round 3rd Round 4th Round 4th Round 5th Round 6th Round 7th Round
Draft Tek 3/31 Melvin Ingram, OLB, South Carolina Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin
Trumaine Johnson, CB, Montana
Malik Jackson, DE, Tennessee
Jamell Fleming, CB, Oklahoma
Marcus Zucevics, LT, Iowa
Patrick Witt, QB, Yale
Josh Chichester, TE, Louisville

As a note for the advanced ODS user, I removed most of the Drafttek grabs in the mocks below to avoid seeing the same names over and over.

Note that the following three mocks below are purely the result of inputing the draft picks into Drafttek's ODS; they are not my personal mocks nor do they represent what I think the Cowboys should do. The picks are generated by the Drafttek algorithm in response to the underlying team needs as defined by the Drafttek team.

Mock 1: Trade with Cincinnati

(Cincinnati grabs Dre Kirkpatrick with the 14th pick, per the ODS)

1 (21st pick). Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina - Gilmore has been making a late push up the draft boards, and some analysts even have him as the second rated corner after Claiborne. Kiper described him as a big guy who can handle big wide receivers, something he'll need in the NFC East. Michael Lombardi of the NFL Network described him as a corner who could win both at the bottom and the top of the route. He has the size and length to win at the line of scrimmage and is also quick enough to win against a receiver at the top of a route.

2. (45th pick) Harrison Smith, SS, Notre Dame - Smith is 6'2", 215 pounds, runs a mid-4.5 and sailed through drills at the Combine in such a way that it prompted Deion Sanders to remark, "That's smooth!" Smith was a team captain for the Fighting Irish and would fit right in as a RKG.

2. (53rd pick) Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida - Robinson annihilated the Combine drills, turning quite some heads in the process. He still needs to be coached up in various aspects of his game, but his straight-line speed, natural fluidity, quickness and willingness to tackle make him an interesting prospect late in the second round.

3. (81st pick) Cam Johnson, DE/OLB, Virginia - Johnson played in both a 3-4 and a 4-3 scheme at Virginia, so that's something that should come in handy with the Cowboys. He's 6-foot-3 and weighs 278 pounds.

4. (135th pick) Terrell Manning, ILB, North Carolina State - Manning adds some solid depth at ILB and can contribute immediately on ST.

5. (152nd pick) Marquis Maze, WR, Alabama - At 5-foot-8, Maze is not exactly the prototypical Cowboys receiver, but if you're still miffed the Cowboys let Danny Amendola go, this might be your guy

6. (186th pick) Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa - Marvin McNutt on the other hand is the prototypical Cowboys receiver (6-foot-2 1/2, 212 pounds). He has the strength, hands and route-running skills to be a possession receiver for the Cowboys.

7. (222nd pick) David Paulson, TE, Oregon - Paulson is an H-Back/tight end hybrid. He caught 30 passes for 428 yards and six touchdowns in 2011. He's reportedly a good blocker and would be a good fit in the Cowboys' scheme.

Mock 2: Trade with Detroit

(Detroit grabs Stephon Gilmore with the 14th pick, per the ODS)

1 (23rd pick) Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College - Kuechly is the reigning Butkus, Nagurski, Lombardi and Lott Impact Trophy Award winner. He has more career tackles (532) than any other linebacker in the country – and he’s a junior. Kuechly has an unstoppable motor that would suit the Cowboys well. There may be some questions about whether Kuechly is the BPA at number 14, but at 23 it's not even debatable that he's the best player on the board - by far.

2. (45th pick) James Brown, OG, Troy - Brown is the second highest rated guard on Drafttek's Big Uglies list. Long Ball writes: " James always finishes and doesn't quit until the whistle blows, giving full effort and leaving it all on the field. He leads by example through hard work, competing with a positive attitude and has gained the admiration of teammates and coaches alike."

2. (54th pick) Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida - See above.

3. (81st pick) Cam Johnson, DE/OLB, Virginia - See above.

4. (113th pick) Jamell Fleming, CB, Oklahoma - Many services have Fleming ranked as a potential second-rounder. In the fourth round, he's a steal.

4. (135th pick) Brandon Taylor, SS, LSU - Todd McShay has him going at the end of the second round. That may be a bit high, but the LSU team captain and wearer of the prestigious number 18 would make a solid addition to the Cowboys secondary

5. (152nd pick) Marquis Maze, WR, Alabama - See above.

7. (222nd pick ) George Bryan, TE, North Carolina State - The 6-foot-5, 265 pound Bryan could replace Bennett as a blocker, with the upside of potentially being able to contribute in the passing game.

Mock 3: Trade with Pittsburgh

(Pittsburgh pick Luke Kuechly with the 14th pick, per the ODS)

1 (24th pick) Andre Branch, OLB, Clemson - Branch is 6-foot-4, 259 pounds. He was a two-year starter for Clemson, notching 25.5 tackles for a loss and 16.5 sacks during that span. More impressively, 17 TFL's and 10.5 sacks came in his senior year. He impresses through size, athleticism and production and is projected to go at the bottom of the first round.

2. (45th pick) Kevin Zitler, OG/OC, Wisconsin - I'll leave this one for Long Ball again: "I stated my desire for multi-positional players and my affinity for prospects from that OL Manufacturing Plant located in Madison, WI in the last CMD. However, if Kevin Zeitler can play center as well as he has performed at the guard position, then I say let's plug him in and forget we ever knew Phil Costa! With the recently signed "gargantuan strong men" Bernadeau and Livings in free agency for the OG positions, an athletic technician at the pivot is just what Dr. Long Ball ordered!"

2. (56th) Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida - See above

3. (81st pick) Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia - Brandon Boykin is a little bit undersized at 5-foot-9, 182 pounds, but he's an incredibly gifted athlete. He has value as a nickel corner immediately, and could also be a great returner.

4. (113th pick) Reuben Randle, WR, LSU - The 6-foot-3 Randle is ranked 27th on the CBSSports Big Board and getting him in the fourth round could easily be the steal of the draft.

4. (135th pick ) Tank Carder, ILB, TCU - Carder has an invite for Dallas Days. We'll have to wait and see what the repercussions of the mess at TCU will be on him.

5. (152nd pick) Marquis Maze, WR, Alabama - See above.

5. (159th pick) Akiem Hicks, DE, Regina - Hicks measures in at 6-foot-5, 318 pounds. He originally signed with LSU but ran into an issue with a housing situation and left after an NCAA investigation. Hicks can play the five technique, but must be considered strictly a developmental project.

6. (186th pick) Landon Walker, OT, Clemson - By all accounts, Walker is a high-character, hard-working guy. Perhaps the Cowboys can develop him into a backup.

So there you have it. Does a trade down still look as attractive considering some of the draft selections that it might ensue?

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