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Cowboys Draft 2016: Is Trading Back A Possibility?

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What is the likelihood that the Cowboys would find a workable deal to move back and collect more picks?

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Combine is over and we are now one step closer to the 2016 NFL Draft in Chicago this coming April. The Cowboys front office has now seen every prospect that is in play for them at number four overall. So which direction will they go? Will it be quarterback, defensive back, or will they look to further strengthen the pass rush with another young defensive lineman? What if the fourth pick comes around and the team doesn't love any of the guys available? Would Dallas trade back and look to strengthen their draft by adding quantity over perceived quality?

I am already on record as saying that Dallas should use this year's first-round pick on Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey. But what happens if the San Diego Chargers take Ramsey at number three? Dallas may be left looking at a draft board that has no player worthy of taking. In this post we'll look at the Cowboys trade possibilities if this nightmare comes true. But before we can speculate who some likely trade partners might be, we must first understand the value of our fourth-overall pick.

The draft pick value chart is an idea that was pioneered in the 90's by former Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson. The theory is that by assigning a numerical value to each draft position it makes it easier to determine if a proposed trade is of commensurate value. Johnson used this chart with great success, and since it has become universally used by NFL front offices. You can find versions of the chart all over the internet. The one I'm using or this exercise is the Drafttek.com Interactive Trade Chart.

Back in the 2013 draft, the Cowboys used their draft chart to trade their number 18 pick to the San Francisco 49ers for the 31st and 74th overall picks. If you look at the chart the numbers don't add up exactly. Dallas' pick was worth 900 points while the picks they received in return only had a total value of 820. The numbers will almost never equal each other in the end, but the chart is merely a tool to help gauge the fairness of a deal involving picks. If you remember, the Cowboys used the first-rounder they got from the Niners on Wisconsin center Travis Frederick. The pick was widely regarded as a reach at the time, but three years later Frederick has proven to be the best offensive lineman taken in that draft.

Now the Cowboys are drafting from the number four slot, and with the higher pick comes increased value. The fourth-overall pick on our chart has a value of 1800 points. So in order to move back, we have to find a team with that kind of draft capital to spend, which also values a particular player badly enough to want to move up and grab him. Luckily we might have just the team. The St. Louis Los Angeles Rams are sitting with the 15th pick in the first round. LA may want to select a quarterback. For this exercise we'll say that the Cleveland Browns took North Dakota State's Carson Wentz with the second pick and the Rams want Cal's Jared Goff.

The problem for Los Angeles is that the 49ers might also want Goff and they are picking seventh. So the Rams call on the Cowboys asking for their fourth overall selection. The LA first-rounder is only worth 1050 points so they would need to come up with something more to make this trade equitable. They have two second round picks, and if they included the one at 45 (450 points) and their third rounder (210), that would add up to an acceptable 1710 points. Now the Cowboys are picking 15th and are free to select Ohio State tail back Ezekiel Elliot, defensive end Shaq Lawson from Clemson, or anyone else that they value at that spot.

If that sounds like an awful lot for the Rams to give up, that's because it is. And that's why it is very difficult to move out of the top five in the draft. If Dallas is interested in moving back in the first round they will need to find a highly motivated trade partner with adequate draft value to swap. All of this makes a deal unlikely, but not out of the question.