For some time now, it has been apparent that the Dallas Cowboys were down to two options if they stuck with the fourth-overall pick, Ezekiel Elliott and Jalen Ramsey. There were some very good arguments to be made for both of the players. Elliott would allow the team to control the ball and keep the other team's offense off the field, especially with Tony Romo and Dez Bryant healthy. Ramsey would be an upgrade to the secondary, to hopefully help keep the other team from scoring and get the ball back. And of course there was some chance that the team could trade back in the right situation.
On Thursday night, the brain trust made the decision and went with what they may have seen as a sure thing in picking Elliott.
If nothing else, Elliott is the safest pick in the draft. Theory is, limit the snaps of the defense. Certainly worked in 2014.— Jeff Sullivan (@SullyBaldHead) April 29, 2016
There was apparently one call to the Dallas war room about a trade, one that may have been very tempting.
Source: Baltimore was the team the Cowboys were talking to about moving back. Ravens wanted Jalen Ramsey.— David Moore (@DavidMooreDMN) April 29, 2016
The trade would only have been back two spots, which may have left Elliott available. But with the Ravens targeting Ramsey, there was certainly a risk that the Cowboys could have missed on both of what appeared to be their top two players. In the end, they went with the sure thing. From the video feed from the war room, it looked like Jason Garrett was very much against trading back, and he prevailed.
There is no doubt that this was the way the Cowboys wanted to go. There had been a good bit of talk that he was the top player on their board in the days leading up to the draft. And the first three picks could not have gone any better for Dallas. As was widely expected, the Rams took QB Jared Goff, the Eagles then took leftover QB Carson Wentz, and then the Chargers drafted Joey Bosa, a player that many national writers kept mocking to the Cowboys despite a lot of indications from both knowledgeable beat writers and the pre-draft press conference that Dallas was not as high on him as Elliott and Ramsey. It essentially left the Cowboys where they would have been with the first pick of the draft.
There is no doubt that Elliott was very pleased to be picked by Dallas. When Jerry Jones got on the phone with him, his response to being told he was coming to Dallas was "Let's go win the Super Bowl." Jones would later say in an interview on 105.3 The Fan that Elliott was indeed the highest-rated player on their board. And clearly they trusted that evaluation despite the devaluation in the NFL of the running back position in recent years.
Jones also confirmed that the team did have a trade offer on the table, and his allusion to trading back "a couple of spots" seems to agree with the report that it was the Ravens. But he also stated that, after having missed out on players they had targeted in recent years by having someone get ahead of them, the decision was to stay at four and take the player that most of us refer to as Zeke.
105.3 also got Elliott on for an interview, and he said that the Cowboys were the organization he would have picked for himself. He also explained his rather interesting fashion choice, which was his visual comment on the NCAA rule change that stopped him from wearing cropped jerseys in games.
With the Cowboys going with Elliott, the Jaguars were the beneficiaries as they took Ramsey at five. They undoubtedly got a very good player, but at least he will not be much of a concern for Dallas.
One team that Dallas does have to concern itself with is the Giants, and they took CB Eli Apple with the tenth-overall pick. It would look to be something of a reach, since he was seen as more of a back half of the first round talent. Of course, most would say Elliott was a minor reach as well. However, not all analysts see Apple as being that solid, so it will be interesting to see how he plays out for them.
The draft featured several trades, and Washington was involved in one, trading back from the 21st spot with the Texans - to the 22nd spot, which must mean that the Texans were afraid Washington was taking their player. Washington picked up a sixth-round pick next year to leave Houston with the chance to draft wide receiver Will Fuller. Washington then took another wide receiver, and maybe a better one, in Josh Doctson. It looks like Scot McCloughan is doing his best to turn them into a well run team.
Of course, everyone knows that the Eagles have mortgaged their next few years to get Wentz, and they have also alienated their supposed starting QB for this year, Sam Bradford, along the way. Wentz became quite the darling leading up to the draft, and has reaped the rewards. But along with his perceived upside comes a very real potential downside. Some of the video of him is very questionable, showing him become frozen in place as he makes his read, something that can lead to severe pain in the NFL.
There was one serious "What the . . . " moment in the draft, or actually just before it. A video of Laremy Tunsil, once considered likely to be the first player taken overall, was tweeted out minutes prior to the start of the draft. It showed him using a gas-mask bong. The tweet and the account were quickly deleted, but it is believed to have played a role in him slipping to the Dolphins at thirteen. If, as has been reported by some, the video is old and not reflective of Tunsil's current behavior, they got themselves a real steal, and someone really tried to do a real hatchet job on him.
In addition to the anticipation about the fourth-overall pick, there was a lot of speculation about the Cowboys trying to trade up from their second round pick at 34 into the late part of the first round, possibly to get a quarterback. As the draft got into the mid-twenties, this surfaced again. But they were not alone in looking to make a move. The Titans were also reported as looking to move up from the second, and the Cardinals and Chiefs were reported to be looking to move up from their late-round positions. But the team to actually make a move was the Broncos, who moved from 31 to 26, trading with the Seahawks to take Paxton Lynch, who was seen as a possible QB option for the Cowboys.
After the Denver trade, and given the number of really good names left, especially defensive linemen, the Cowboys decided to sit at 34. There are multiple options such as A'Shawn Robinson, Kevin Dodd, Reggie Ragland, Jarran Reed, Kamalei Correa, Emmanuel Ogbah, Chris Jones (the DT), Austin Johnson, Jonathan Bullard, and Andrew Billings, just to list some of the better known names. Oh, and Myles Jack, if they are willing to take a chance on his knee.
However, having gotten one of the very best players of the draft, and apparently their top prospect in the entire draft, this has to go down as a good first round for Dallas. Not making a costly trade up to get a second-tier quarterback makes it even better.