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NFL 2014 Draft: Despite What They Say, The Cowboys Are Likely Willing To Trade Down

Reports surfaced Thursday morning that the Cowboys are willing to consider moving up in the draft, but not trading back. Excuse me, I'm calling smoke screen on that.

Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

There has been conjecture in recent days as the last few weeks of draft season rolls in. Rumors begin to swirl about whether the Cowboys would be likely to trade their 16th pick in the first round of the draft, to make a move either up to grab a player they really like, or down, to gather more picks and land in a sweet spot of talent on the back end of the first round.

However, as KD described, a member of the Dallas Cowboys own media arm, is saying that Dallas isn't willing to move back, limiting their internal trade options to moving up for a player they like.

While I have spoken with and respect Jeff quite a bit, I'm going to call this report a big fat smoke screen.

My theory revolves around a couple of points.

A) Jerry and company know that in a deep draft, like this one, teams trading down tend to have to do so at a discount, especially if the perception is that they are looking for options to drop back.

Knowing this, the Cowboys front office needs to present to the rest of the league that they are happy at 16, or willing to go up, but they aren't one of those teams "looking" to move back and accumulate picks. Thus psychologically driving up the value of the 16th pick. Now if Ray Farmer (CLE), Trent Baalke (SF), or John Dorsey (KC), or some other GM want to try to jump up, they know they won't be getting a discount.

B) The Cowboys sit at the PERFECT spot to trade back from, and they have to know it.

When the Cowboys won their coin toss with the Ravens for the 16th overall pick, we talked about what it meant, especially from a value standpoint. However, another thing winning the 16th pick did was position the Cowboys at a very interesting spot in the first round.

Below you'll see the list of every team from pick 17-32, and whether I feel like they have a need at a specific position, wide receiver.

Pick Team Need at WR?
17 Baltimore X
18 New York Jets X
19 Miami
20 Arizona
21 Green Bay X
22 Philadelphia X
23 Kansas City X
24 Cincinnati
25 San Diego
26 Cleveland X
27 New Orleans
28 Carolina X
29 New England X
30 San Francisco X
31 Denver
32 Seattle

Now that we know that there are 9 teams in the 16 picks after the Cowboys in the first round who need help at wide receiver, let's see what the top part of the wide receiver class looks like. The following are all the WR's that CBSSports has graded in their top 32 prospects.

Overall Rank Name
4 Sammy Watkins
10 Mike Evans
19 Brandin Cooks
21 Odell Beckham Jr.
28 Marqise Lee
30 Allen Robinson

Considering most teams will have from 16-18 first round grades on their board in any given year, it looks like there is a clear cut between the top 2 and the rest of the group. However, there has been discussion about the depth of this draft creating more first-round grades than normal, and the number 22 has been floated specifically for the Cowboys, leaving 4 players here that would have first round grades.

When you combine this information with the fact that Watkins, and more than likely Evans, will be gone by the time the Cowboys are on the clock, it leaves two options, slot receiver Brandin Cooks from Oregon St, and Odell Beckham Jr from LSU available as fringe first round grades at the WR spot. For a team like Cleveland at 26, Carolina at 28, or Kansas City at 23, that could covet a first-round receiver, the incentive is to jump ahead of as many of these receiver-needy teams as possible to get their guy, rather than running the risk of being wiped out by the time the clock starts on their pick.

And the first spot they are likely to look, is in front of this run, which is pick #16, your Dallas Cowboys, and waiting on the other end of the line, none other than Trader Jerry, waiting to make a deal.

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