Go big or go home.
I don’t know who coined that phrase, but it wouldn’t surprise me if such a motto is plastered somewhere in the work environment of Jerry Jones. The successful businessman from Arkansas is no stranger to taking chances. You don’t get to where he has by laying it up short.
His riverboat gambler style has trickled over into how he runs his Dallas Cowboys. From trading off Herschel Walker for picks or trading picks for Joey Galloway, Jones loves to make big moves. While others in the front office have settled him down a bit in recent years, you never know if the team is going to get locked in on a player and decide to make a play for him. Could such a player exist in this draft? With the Cowboys picking at 19, there could be a player in the draft that starts to fall where it becomes affordable to trade up and get him.
Is there a player in this draft you would be willing to trade up for?
WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama
The popularity of Dez Bryant has sunk a bit recently and it’s gotten so bad in some parts that there are fans looking to replace him. The only wide receiver in the draft who could pass up Bryant on the depth chart is Crimson Tide receiver Calvin Ridley.
Ridley is the total package. He’s a skilled route-runner, has great speed, and super terrific hands. If he falls to 19, the Cowboys should take him without hesitation, but that’s not likely to happen. Both the Chicago Bears (pick 8th overall) and San Francisco 49ers (9th overall) need a WR so there is a good chance Ridley doesn’t make it out of the top 10. But for some reason, if Ridley makes it past this bubble, he could slide a few more spots as the next team that might be looking for a WR isn’t until pick 14. Would you be willing to give up a third-round pick to move up to snag Ridley?
Should the Cowboys do it? No.
There is part of me that is scared off from falling in love with these promising first-round receiving targets. Last season, three WRs were taken within the first nine picks of the draft - Corey Davis (5th overall), Mike Williams (7th), and John Ross (9th). Combined, they had the same amount of touchdown catches that Ridley had in the NFL last year - zero.
There is no issue in taking Ridley 19th overall. Not at all. Dallas should sprint down and turn in that ticket with Ridley’s 4.48 speed. But Dallas shouldn’t just give away a third-rounder to do it. In fact, there are some intriguing Day 2 receivers that would fit in nicely with the Cowboys that the team could acquire without having to invest so much.
S Derwin James, Florida State
The Cowboys have several players who can play the safety position (excluding Byron Jones who is now likely a corner) in Jeff Heath, Xavier Woods, and Kavon Frazier. All of them are solid, but none of them are spectacular. Nor will they ever be. The Cowboys have a safety with great instincts (Heath), a ball-hawking route-jumper (Woods), and an explosive hitter in run support (Frazier), but unfortunately these traits are spread out over three different players.
Wouldn’t it be great to get a star-caliber player who could do all these things. FSU’s Derwin James is the real deal. The Cowboys could get one of those “planet players” who just so happens fills a need where the next man up is nothing more than average. While James is a special talent there are a handful of reasons he could fall. First, while his athleticism is off the charts, he’s still a player that needs more experience as he only has 26 college games to his credit. Second, his medical records will carry with it a torn ACL suffered in 2016. Finally, there aren’t a lot of teams that have a big need at the safety position. If teams start addressing more pressing needs, James could slide.
Should the Cowboys do it? For a second-round pick, no. But if he’s still there at 15, it would be worth giving up a third-rounder for him.
LB Roquan Smith, Georgia
Another elite defensive player who could fall is Georgia’s star linebacker, Roquan Smith. If three quarterbacks go in the top 10, this means some really good players are going to slide. Smith could end up being one of those players.
What happens to Anthony Hitchens in free agency will have a big impact on the state of the Cowboys linebacker situation. Without him, the position becomes a bigger need and a sideline-to-sideline linebacker like Smith would be such a huge boost for the Cowboys defense.
Should the Cowboys do it? Similar to Derwin James, if he falls into the third-round price, then it becomes something to give serious thought towards, but the team has to be careful about overpaying. When they gave up their second-round pick to move up to get Morris Claiborne, it came with a big cost. I’m not talking about the lack of contribution from Claiborne as nobody could foresee him having so many injury problems, but rather missing out on the player they would have gotten in the second round - LB Bobby Wagner. That’s the player the Cowboys would have selected in 2012 if they still had their second-round pick. And that would render this Roquan Smith discussion moot.
While players like James and Smith would be great to have, there is just too much talent available in round two to give up that much draft capital.
DT Vita Vea, Washington
Many Cowboys fans are hoping the monster defensive tackle from the Pacific Northwest is still available when the Cowboys are on the clock in the first round. One of the teams that Vita Vea is being mocked to quite a bit is their division rival Washington Redskins. It’s bad enough the Cowboys have to deal with Damon “Snacks” Harrison and Fletcher Cox twice a year, but if the Redskins had an interior run-stopping stud like Vea, that would be terrible.
Jumping ahead of Washington to snag Vea would be too pricey so the only real question is should the Cowboys try to secure his services with a small jump so that San Diego or Seattle doesn’t take him right from underneath them? Would it be worth it to send their third-round pick to Baltimore to get Vea?
Should the Cowboys do it? No. I’m a big fan of Vea, but don’t sacrifice additional draft capital to get him. Hold your breath and hope he makes it, and if he doesn’t - they still have a backup plan with Da’Ron Payne.
Are there any players in this draft you would want to trade up and get? And at what price would it be worth it?