Once it was determined that the Dallas Cowboys would have the fourth overall pick in the draft, the discussion about using it to get a quarterback began. This is rarefied air for the Cowboys, and hopefully they will not soon have such an opportunity again. This may be the best chance to get a franchise quarterback that they will have for years, many if they get it right. But countering that is the fact that there are only three likely candidates to be "that guy", and it is unlikely that Dallas thinks all three of them would be worthy of the fourth overall pick. With the Los Angeles Rams trading into the first overall pick, there is a very good chance that, if the Cowboys see their future quarterback in this group, he is going to be gone.
But with Tony Romo being stalked by Father Time, who has a better record for getting his man than the Mounties, they still have to figure out what to do, and waiting until he retires seems fraught with peril. So here is a simple, three-step plan for the first pick of the draft to address it.
1. If your quarterback is there at four, take him and don't look back.
2. If he is not, entertain trades to enable you to go after your quarterback next year.
3. If you simply cannot find a trade partner that will give you what you need, draft Jalen Ramsey, Ezekiel Elliott, or whoever is at the top of your board and move on.
At this point, you may be a bit puzzled by number two. How exactly does trading back this year help you out in the 2017 draft? Well, it is fairly simple. Jerry and Stephen Jones just need to make it clear that they are strictly looking for trades that include the following three words: "Next year's first."
It's called getting ammunition to make a move next year, and it may be the best way to get the quarterback you really need without having to pay an exorbitant cost. When the Rams acquired that first overall pick, they had to part with their own pick at 15, picks 43 and 45 in the second round, pick 76 in the third, next year's first, and next year's third. They also got back picks 113 and 177 this year, but those are small potatoes. The fact is that they had to pay a lot to move up to the first pick. That is likely to be true next year for the Cowboys unless disaster befalls them (knock most frantically on the nearest wooden item you can find) and they wind up at the top of the draft again.
But with two first round picks to deal, moving up suddenly is not going to cost nearly as much. And if the quarterback class of 2017 is a bit stronger than this year's, you may not have to move all the way to the top. But even if you do need to get to the first overall pick, having two first rounders to throw into the trade will certainly cut the additional picks that must be sacrificed, especially if you can get one from a team that does poorly this season. If that pick winds up being in the bottom quarter of the draft, you may be able to get by with only giving up a couple of other picks, which is an acceptable cost IF you get the right player to become Romo's successor.
And there are some good options out there for such a deal. OCC just wrote an article examining some trade options that the Cowboys could work out this year, including how much of a discount Dallas might have to give considering the relative paucity of elite talent this draft. With the general rule that a next-year pick is valued at the mid-range of the next lowest round this year, any of the possible trades he outlined that includes a second round pick this year would be workable by just replacing the second rounder with that 2017 first round pick.
The Titans are reportedly interested in moving back up to possibly get Laremy Tunsil, and the discounted deal OCC outlined is to get pick 15 and 33 for the fourth pick. And given that they had the worst record in the league this year, Tennessee's first round pick in 2017 has a very high probability of being early again. There is a risk, as with all possible trade partners, that they could turn it around in one season, but it is not a high probability. And the Titans now have two first round picks in 2017, so they would probably be more open to giving one up than teams that only have one first rounder at the moment.
The other three teams that he mentions that would be in a position to give up next year's first in lieu of this year's second are the Raiders, Dolphins, and Saints, but this might also be an attractive idea to other teams a little closer to the fourth pick now, such as the 49ers, Eagles, Buccaneers, and Giants.
It would set the Cowboys up to solve the quarterback conundrum while staying in the first half of the first round, a price that would be worth it. No one rookie is going to make or break this season, and the Cowboys should still be able to get a very good player to improve their roster. It does not sacrifice trying to win now. And who knows who might slide just enough for Dallas to get a great value like they did with Zack Martin, Travis Frederick, or Byron Jones?
All this becomes moot, of course, if the right quarterback makes it to four. But that seems like a long shot at the moment, and the cost of trading up one or two spots to make sure they get a Carson Wentz, Jared Goff, or Paxton Lynch, depending on who the Rams take, seems just too high. Shooting for 2017 seems a much more cost effective way to go about things.
So what do you think? Should the Cowboys work on finding someone who is willing to give up a future pick they can then turn into that most valuable of all positions, a franchise quarterback?