"Expect the unexpected." - Dalton, from Roadhouse.
In recent years, the Cowboys have done a pretty good job sticking to the script when it comes to their draft picks. The selections of Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, and Byron Jones have demonstrated that the Cowboys can remain disciplined and stick to their board. But despite this great showing of restraint, Dallas can still find a way to sneak in some surprises.
The move to acquire Morris Claiborne in 2012 caught everyone off guard. The following year, they moved around again and selected Frederick at the end of the first round, but it was the second round choice of Gavin Escobar that had fans bewildered. After all, the team already had the great Jason Witten strongly cemented as the team's tight end as well as drafting James Hanna the previous season. And then in the last two years, the team has selected Anthony Hitchens and Chaz Green. Both these players were good players at positions that could help the team, but they still came with some consternation as many thought these players were taken a couple rounds too soon.
Make no mistake about it, the Cowboys can be full of surprises when it comes to the NFL Draft. So what type of jaw-dropping moves could be in store for us this year? Here is a breakdown of some things that could go down in the first four rounds that could astonish us.
First round - DE, Deforest Buckner, Oregon
Cowboys Nation will be on the edge of our seats when pick number four is announced. Whatever name is called, it's going to be a surprise to many of us. Sure, it stands a good chance of being a player that we've all discussed significantly over here at BTB, but which one will it be? Will it be one of the quarterbacks? Will Zeke lovers be able to rejoice? Or will they shock everyone with a player nobody expects? Joey Bosa has been the pass rusher that has been tied to the Cowboys in many mocks. And it makes sense. The Cowboys have a big need at defensive end and he is one of the best edge rushers. It's a match made in heaven when "best player available" and "need" intersect. But what if Buckner is the defensive end that the Cowboys have graded out the highest? Buckner is an explosive player that can be disruptive on the defensive line. Our own Joey Ickes just recently provided his draft profile.
The Cowboys need an edge rusher that has the skill level to be a star in this league. People may guess right with the position, but the name might not be who they expected.
Second round - WR, Will Fuller, Notre Dame
My school of thought is that there will be a player available at 34 who has fortuitously fallen in the lap of the Cowboys. If that player is at a position the team has a big need for, great, but it doesn't always work out so nicely. If Dallas has a chance to get one of the best receivers in the draft, then he may be too good to pass up.
Many people have expressed disappointment with Terrance Williams when he filled in for Dez Bryant as the WR#1 last season. In fairness to TWilly, all the Cowboys pass catchers struggled last year as the absence of Tony Romo was felt across the board. So the need at WR might not be as critical as people think. However, Williams' contract will be up after the 2016 season and he might be looking for more money than Dallas is willing to give him. The Cowboys could have themselves a dynamic receiving group with the addition of a player like Fuller. He's a strong route runner with great acceleration who can track down the ball. While there are other positions far more pressing, drafting well means collecting as many great players as you can. Will Fuller is a great player.
Third round - no pick
The Cowboys have shown in the past that they have no quarrels about moving around to get their guy. They have maneuvered around in three of the last four years within the first couple rounds of the draft. According to the NFL trade value chart, the Cowboys third round pick (67 overall) is worth 255 points. If you add that to the value of their second round pick (34 overall, 560 points), the Cowboys could package these picks in order to move to the early 20's in the first round. That may seem like a lot to give up, but if the Cowboys see player still available that they have a first round grade on, they could pull the trigger. It's always a good thing whenever you can land two first round graded players in the draft.
Another possibility could be a backup plan to acquiring a backup quarterback. If rounds one and two pass them by and no quarterback is selected, the remaining QBs are all players that would fall into the "development" category. While any rookie would have growing pains, it would be increasingly more difficult to rely on a late round pick to come in and see action should something happen to Romo. This could lead Dallas to going after a more qualified candidate to fill that role via a trade. If the Cowboys want a solid backup, they're going to have to pay a reasonable fee. They may surprise people by dealing away their third round draft pick for a player like Tampa Bay's Mike Glennon.
Fourth round - G Isaac Seumalo, Oregon State
This makes absolutely no sense, which is why it gets the nod. The Cowboys have surprised us with Chaz Green and Anthony Hitchens when both of them looked like reserve players at best. Granted, Doug Free is getting older so working Green into the plans isn't so unreasonable, but Hitchens was a guy that would have to play behind Sean Lee for many years to come. Of course, Lee has trouble staying healthy and Hitchens got to showcase his skills right away. For Chaz, he was hurt his rookie season so it's tough to say what the Cowboys have in their future right tackle.
But just like those players, selecting a guard this season wouldn't seem like the best way to use that pick. The Cowboys have two stud players at guard in Zack Martin and La'el Collins. They certainly aren't going anywhere anytime soon. Also, Ron Leary is still slated to be the backup guard. Unless the Cowboys can work some sort of trade with Leary, a selection like Seumalo would just get buried on the depth chart.
Seumalo is the type of player the Cowboys love as he offers great flexibility playing four out of the five positions along the offensive line. As an Oregon State Beaver myself, the pick of Seumalo would be a surprise, but it would be a pleasant one.
What player would you be the most surprised by if the Cowboys selected him?