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2012 NFL Draft: Should Cowboys Stay Put Or Trade Down?

Do the Cowboys need <em>more</em> or <em>better</em> players?
Do the Cowboys need more or better players?

Large parts of every NFL fanbase are indulging in trade down fantasies at this very moment. Cowboys fans are no different. And it appears that neither are the NFL front offices. A couple of weeks ago, Dan Pompei of the National Football Post wrote that there may be a whole bunch of teams looking to trade down in this year's draft:

From the early returns, it appears that the concept of trading down is going to be in vogue this year. A number of front office men have expressed a desire to do so.

Given the strengths and weaknesses of the draft, teams are thinking they rather would have multiple second, third and fourth round picks than one first rounder.

Reports out of Valley Ranch suggest the Cowboys were open to trading out of the #9 spot last year, but nothing ever materialized. Are the Cowboys looking to trade down again this year, and more importantly, should they?

The problem is that if everybody is looking to trade down, finding a team that actually wants to move up may be even harder this year.

The other option of course would be for the Cowboys to trade up, but as I was scanning the headlines this this morning, this story caught my attention: "Gosselin: Why Cowboys shouldn’t trade up 'in any scenario' during NFL draft."

Well, the Goose still carries some weight as a draft analyst, so I decided to read on. Gosselin effectively argues that the Cowboys need more quality players and trading up would not accomplish that.

I wouldn't trade up in any scenario. The Cowboys are an average team that needs more quality bodies. Trading up in the first would likely cost you your second or third rounder. Those picks project as starters.

The Cowboys need more good players, not less. You make that trade up if you believe you are one player away, like the Falcons did last April. Atlanta believed that player was Julio Jones and paid a king's ransom for him. The Cowboys aren't one player away.

Okay, that makes sense in a way. If you believe the Cowboys have many holes to fill, getting more players seems like a good idea. So this is actually a good argument for trading down. If the Cowboys can move down a few spots and get a third- or even a second-round pick in return, that would be a good thing, right?

Not so fast.

The next headline that caught my eye was "Gosselin: Should the Cowboys trade down from 14? Not if they want to win it all." This time, Goose argues that what the Cowboys really need is not quantity, but quality.

And you win in this league with quality, not quantity. The higher the pick, the better the player. There are more Hall of Famers who were first-round draft picks than all of the other rounds combined.

The draft was implemented to ensure competitive balance. The worst teams got the highest picks. When you trade down, you are giving up the competitive advantage the NFL built in for you.

Well, now I'm confused. Do the Cowboys need more players or better players? And answering "Both" is not a valid option.

Either way, trade-down scenarios can't really be discussed in a vacuum, because they are almost always contingent on the players available at the time of the pick. Because until you know which players exactly are left on the board when it's time to pick, it's difficult to assess the merits of trading down.

But the question remains: Should the Cowboys stay put or trade down?

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