I believe it was the great Aristotle that said, “I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” Wait no, that was Wimpy from Popeye. Regardless of which great mind spoke such deep words, borrowing from the future has served us greatly in our lives. It’s why many of us own cars, homes, or have been afforded the luxury of racking up a nice college loan debt. Those who act responsible can benefit nicely from such a thing while those who are careless can get themselves in trouble.
After the Cowboys have been fleeced in free agency (let’s just pretend that’s what happened), the team is left to replace several middling players. The good news is - mediocrity is not hard to replace. The better news is - the draft is coming up and can do wonders in helping the team acquire some quality pieces. Dallas, after all, is a team that prides itself on building through draft. We’ve all heard that preached so much in recent years that it sounds like a broken record. Of course, with the results it produced last year, this philosophy has brought music to our ears as the team has really dialed in it’s ability to snag great talent from the draft. A lot of credit goes to Will McClay and his countless hours watching film. A lot goes to the reigning coach of the year, Jason Garrett, for looking for particular types of players that exemplify success. And we cannot forget about both Jerry and Stephen Jones, who have turned a huge corner and now show a great deal of patience when it comes to how they spend money.
It’s all going extremely well.
So, if the draft is the heart of success for the Cowboys, then the front office needs to prepare themselves to take another big swing in 2017. Typically, the first two rounds are your premium pick rounds, but with as deep as this draft is, several starters can be found in round three. And as luck would have it, the stars have aligned nicely to where the draft is rich in talent in some of the Cowboys' most crucial areas of need.
We’ve all listened to people remind us that the Cowboys pass rush is in need of an impact player. There are close to 10 edge rushers that are projected to go in the first two rounds. If the team can’t land the player they want with pick 28, they can still get a good player with pick 60.
Even more satisfying is the plethora of talented cornerbacks available. According to CBS draft rankings there are 16 corners that are projected to go in the first three rounds. The Cowboys should be able to get a second round corner for a third round price. This allows them to use the first two rounds for other talents. Or they could even double-dip into the CB pool which would help strengthen up a position group that just lost both it’s starting corners to free agency last week.
And it doesn’t stop there. The ageless Jason Witten will not last forever. This is a good draft to find his replacement as there are several big, athletic tight ends available this year. CBS has seven tight ends projected to go in the first three rounds.
So the meat is there, now it’s just up to the Cowboys to go out and get it. Here is what Dallas is looking at in terms of draft picks this year.
As you can see, the Cowboys have no fifth round pick this year and they have an extra seventh rounder. You can thank Matt Cassel for that.
What would be great is if the Cowboys can score themselves an extra pick in the top 100. One way to achieve this is to trade away some of next year’s draft equity. That’s not a practice I would normally subscribe to, but there are some good reasons to give it a good look this draft. One of those reasons is the nice compensatory return the Cowboys will bring in next year. Having so many of their own free agents sign for sizable deals means the Cowboys will get some good comp picks in 2018.
It is currently projected the Cowboys could receive an extra 4th and up to three 5th rounders next season. Of course, that doesn’t help the Cowboys right now and the fact that they won’t even be announced until next February means the Cowboys can’t even use them as bargaining chips.
(If you don’t know this already, beginning this season compensatory picks can now be traded )
While technically it is impossible to trade picks you don’t have yet, the Cowboys have a real good idea that they’re coming. What they can do is trade actual picks instead. The Cowboys 2018 draft picks are going to be loaded as they should have over 10 picks to work with. Why not use some of that draft capital to try to snag an extra third round pick?
There were 11 third round compensatory picks awarded in this years draft. There are two important things that stand out from that. First, this pushes the Cowboys fourth round pick back even further to where they could miss out on some of the strong talent from the front of the draft. Second, since these comp picks can be traded this year, that’s 11 extra picks that some teams might be willing to deal, giving the Cowboys a chance to move back up to get a player they want. In last year’s draft, 20 picks were traded away from pick 40 in the second round to the end of the third round. A lot of wheeling and dealing goes on. This would be a great draft to shuffle some picks around to get in on the good eats of the top 100 players.
How great would it be if the Cowboys could land an impact edge rusher, two good secondary players, and an athletic tight end to red-shirt under Witten for a year? The Cowboys earned a gold-star for the great work they did in last year’s draft. They could very easily follow it up with another strong haul next month.