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NFL Draft 2013: Simulating Cowboys Trade Down Scenarios With

We examine three different trade-down scenarios for the Cowboys and wonder whether there is enough depth in this draft to make a downward move a good idea.

Rob Carr

The Cowboys have repeatedly been mentioned as potential trade-down candidates in the 2013 draft. A little over a month ago, our own Tom Ryle looked at a couple of trade-down possibilities and concluded that one of the key challenges to any trade-down strategy is finding a partner who's looking to trade up.

The problem is going to be finding a partner for this dance. If second and third round picks are particularly valuable this year for Dallas, then they are probably just as valuable for anyone else. That's why I was so interested in teams that have extra picks, because they might be a bit more willing to part with some.

Today we're going to feed some of Tom's scenarios into Drafttek's Online Draft Simulator (ODS), a free online tool that allows you to compile your own seven-round mock draft, and see what the Drafttek supercomputer comes up with.

The Online Draft Simulator (ODS) allows users to produce a computer generated model of the 2013 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 stick to only the first four rounds today.

For now, I'm not going to bother you with some of the specific options of the ODS like positional priorities, grabs or lockout codes. Instead, 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 Tom's trade-down scenarios, which I picked because they provide sufficiently differentiated mock drafts in terms of potential draft prospects:

First and second: Cincinnati 21+ 37 (1,330) for Dallas 18 + 47 (1,330)

Two seconds: Miami 42 + 54 + 108 (918) for Dallas 18 + 175 (922.4)

First and third: Minnesota 23 + 83 (935) for Dallas 18 + 144 (934)

Mock 1: Cincinnati

(Straight trade with Cincinnati, no other tweaks in the ODS programming)

1st round (21st pick): Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri - When the Cowboys are on the clock at number 18, Sharrif Floyd, Jonathan Cooper and Sheldon Richardson - all Cowboys targets - are still on the board. The Cowboys trade with the Bengals, who eagerly snap up OLB Arthur Brown with their newly acquired 18th pick. Before it's the Cowboys' turn again, the Giants and Bears take Sharrif Floyd and Jonathan Cooper at 20 and 21 respectively, which leaves Richardson for the Cowboys. Did the Cowboys overplay their hand?

Richardson could be a key piece for Kiffin's defense, and provides youth and premier talent at a position where the Cowboys are getting long in the tooth, and he'd be an excellent choice for the Cowboys, whether at 18 or 22.

2nd round (37th pick): Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU - The 6-5, 260 Montgomery has a prototypical frame for a DE and the college production to prove it: in 32 college games he recorded 19 sacks and 32.5 TFLs for a production ratio of 1.61, the second best career value in this year's draft class behind only Damontre Moore (1.88). Montgomery could be the ideal replacement for Spencer in 2014: he has a great bullrush, he's very strong against the run and is fast for a man his size. He still has much to learn in terms of pass rushing technique, but using just his physical skills was already enough to outclass almost all college competition.

3rd round (80th pick): Sean Porter, ILB, Texas A&M - In combination with Sean Lee and Bruce Carter, Porter could give the Cowboys the fastest and most athletic linebacking corps in the NFL. Porter is an every down player who's just as effective against the pass as he is against the run.

4th round (111th pick): Terron Armstead, OT, Arkansas-Pine Bluff - Armstead already has a pre-draft visit with the Cowboys lined up. Armstead is an outstanding athlete for the position who dominated the Combine. Ultra-fast for his size and athletic on the move, he is the prototype of what offensive tackles will should look like in the future. He's raw, and needs a little time to develop, but in the fourth round, he'd be a steal.

Mock 2: Miami

(The ODS awards Sam Montgomery to the Cowboys again as the first pick in the second round. To make things more interesting, I've locked out Montgomery in this and the following mock to see what other options the ODS comes up with.)

2nd round (42nd pick): Alex Okafor, DE, Texas - The top of the second round looks to be a sweet spot for defensive ends, and Alex Okafor is one of the better options available. At 6'4" and 264 pounds, Okafor possesses NFL size and length and projects as the prototypical strongside defensive end.

In this scenario, the Cowboys then go hard after offensive linemen. Fluker immediately saves the Cowboys about $6 million dollars, as the Cowboys release Doug Free the day after they draft Fluker. Frederick and Long add some significant talent to the line that, if everything goes well, could set up the Cowboys O-line for the next ten years.

  • 2nd round (47th pick): D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
  • 2nd round (54th pick): Travis Frederick, OC, Wisconsin
  • 3rd round (80th pick): Kyle Long, OG, Oregon

4th round (108th pick): Devin Taylor, DE, South Carolina: Playing in the shadow of Superstar Jadeveon Clowney, Taylor earned 1st and 2nd Team All-SEC honors at South Carolina. Taylor has an ideal athletic frame for a strong-side defensive end. He stands at 6'7", weighs 275 pounds and could still add muscle to his frame. Excellent value in the 4th round for this developmental prospect.

4th round (111th pick): B.W. Webb, CB, William & Mary: Widely touted as a top “small school” prospects, Webb could be a solid nickel corner for the Cowboys. He stood out at the Combine as a top performer in the agility drills.

Mock 3: Minnesota

1st round (23rd pick): Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M: The player called "DaMonster" by his teammates had a ridiculously high 1.88 production ratio in college, recording 45 tackles for loss and 26.5 sacks in 38 college games. Moore hurt his draft stock by posting only 12 reps at the Combine. He improved that to 19 reps at his Pro Day, but questions remain about his speed after posting a disappointing 4.95 40-yard time at the Combine and not improving that at his Pro Day (he hurt his hamstring, again). But all of that is easily trumped by his game tape.

Word around Valley Ranch is that the Cowboys really like the depth in this draft. And perhaps that depth can be found with the offensive linemen in the second and third round. Just like in the previous mock, this iteration has the Cowboys picking three successive linemen, this time substituting Brain Schwenke for Travis Frederick.

  • 2nd round (47th pick): D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
  • 3rd round (80th pick): Brian Schwenke, OC/OG, California
  • 3rd round (83rd pick): Kyle Long, OG, Oregon

Schwenke put up outstanding measurables at the Combine: He beat Jonathan Cooper in the 40, the 10-yard split, the short shuttle and the 3-cone, matched him in the broad jump, and got beat by only half an inch in the vertical and only four reps on the bench press. Great value in the third round.

4th round (111th pick): Terron Armstead, OT, Arkansas-Pine Bluff: The ultra-athletic Armstead is just too good to pass up in the fourth round and gives the Cowboys their fourth offensive lineman in this mock.

So there you have it. Three trade-down mocks, all of which present interesting options for the Cowboys. Which one of the three do you prefer?