Over the years, Jerry Jones has been very fond of trading up and down in the NFL Draft. To a great extent, the success of the early years of Jones’ ownership of the Dallas Cowboys was built on the now-famous Hershel Walker trade and the bevy of draft picks reaped from it. In more recent years, he has traded up and down in the draft, sometimes with great success, and sometimes not so much.
Among his successes, the trade up for Dez Bryant has certainly paid off, and the trade back that netted both Travis Frederick and Terrance Williams was definitely a win for the team. But the move up to get Morris Claiborne is now largely seen as a bust, albeit more due to injury problems than anything. And it is not just early round moves that have been a trademark for Dallas. In 2015, the team traded a future pick to get the seventh-round slot that netted Geoff Swaim. His worth is not fully established, but he already shows promise of being more valuable to the team than recently departed free agent Gavin Escobar.
And the itch to make a move is already evidencing itself with Jones. In a recent statement, as quoted by Clarence Hill of the Ft. Worth Star Telegram, he talked about the possibilities.
"Near the bottom of the first, moving toward the top ... this sets up for a little potential trade action to try to gain some value or try to hit an opportunity," Jones said. "I have never looked at where we were when we started a draft and thought we are not going to get a very good player right there. The assumption being that is where you are going to be when you have to make a decision. All that plays out as it unfolds. There are some opportunities (for trades up or down).”
He indicates that he is hardly interested in trading just for the sake of trading. But as we have seen, trades can be good or bad. Here is a look at what kind of situations may come up, and what may come of them. (For another take, you can also check out Landon McCool’s discussion in his recent podcast.)
Moving up would be a strategy if the Cowboys saw a player they felt they really needed on the board a few picks ahead of their spot. This can take place anywhere in the draft, of course, but given the way the talent is being evaluated this year, the most likely spot this could happen is in the first round. And the most likely target would be if they saw that much-desired “war daddy” pass rusher coming in range, with a real threat he could be taken before they went on the clock. This would realistically be limited to a move of five or six spots, just due to cost. The problem is that this would probably come at the cost of their third-round pick. In a draft that is seen to be so rich in talent in the second and third rounds, including the needed positions of defensive ends and defensive backs, that is not necessarily a wise exchange to make. But, there is always the chance that the Cowboys may see that one player they think they have to have. And in a year when a lot of picks may be exceptionally valuable to other teams, they may be able to get something of a bargain to move up a bit more than we would expect.
Just as a general rule, trading back in the draft seems like a better strategy to utilize. There is always a certain aspect of chance with all draft picks, and the more selections you make, the better the odds are of finding one of those hidden gems.
The big problem that comes, especially this year, is that all teams are looking at the same situation, and in 2017, trading down is likely a more attractive proposition as well. Still, there are always some teams with a surplus of draft picks and possibly a more risk-taking approach to the draft.
This year, sitting at 28, the Cowboys may well want to see if anyone wants to move up, possibly to get that fifth-year option on a player they like. Moving back could net an extra pick or two in those talent-rich second, third, and fourth rounds. Plus, the Cowboys are without a fifth-round pick this year, so getting back into that round may be quite attractive. That could mean that trade backs could also come into play later in the draft.
The Cowboys need an infusion of talent on the defense, and may also want to make a few improvements on the offense along the way as well. The decision to make a move up or down, or possibly even more than one trade, depends on whether the team seeks to get more through quality or quantity.
Most importantly, the decision to make a trade needs to made judiciously, in light of what is available when they go on the clock, or what they think will happen in the picks preceding theirs. And we can be reassured that the decision will not be made solely by Jerry Jones. He will have the advice and council of Stephen Jones, Will McClay, and Jason Garrett. Last year, the Cowboys brain trust did pretty well, with a little luck when their attempt to trade up for Paxton Lynch fell through. So we will see how things pay out this year.
What do you think?
Are you for or against Dallas trading draft picks this year?
This poll is closed
No, they should stick where they are and trust their draft board.
If they see that one player they have to have, they should do whatever they need to get him.
This is the year to accumulate picks. Trade back if possible.
Go crazy, Jerry. Shake things up.