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Cowboys 2018 Draft: Five potential first-round trade up options for the Cowboys

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What if the Cowboys move up on Thursday night?

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Florida State Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

The week of the 2018 NFL Draft is here!

The NFL Draft is coming to AT&T Stadium and will surely be filled with Cowboys fans. Everyone is wondering what the Cowboys will do. Will Jerry Jones want to make a splash since the draft is in town, or will Dallas decide to play things safe? There are so many questions regarding what the Cowboys will decide to do.

Cowboys fans are hoping for as many quarterbacks to go in the top-15 as possible so that a top-tier talent falls. But, what if Jerry wants to take matters into his own hands and get the player that he thinks will take this team to the next level?

Here are five potential prospects the Cowboys could want to make a move up in the draft for.

(Note: All five prospects were off of the board by pick 16 in the SB Nation’s Writers mock draft)

Derwin James, FS, Florida State Seminoles

NCAA Football: Chick-fil-A Kickoff-Alabama vs Florida State John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Derwin James, though unlikely to be the pick, has almost become a fan favorite among Cowboys fans throughout this draft process. The Florida State product possesses a unique combination of talent and athleticism that makes him a player ready to make an impact from the moment he walks in an NFL locker room,

James, a former five-star recruit, starred at FSU during his three-season career in Tallahassee. After an elite freshman campaign, James missed all but two games due to a torn meniscus in 2016. Still, he reminded us why he is so highly-coveted in 2017 — 84 tackles, one sack, two interceptions, one pick-six, and first team all-conference honors.

The 6-foot-2 and 215-pound freakishly athletic defensive back then put on a show at the 2018 scouting combine in Indy: 4.47 40, 40” vertical, 21 bench reps, and a 132” broad jump. In addition to his unique athleticism, James is able to play all over the secondary, at linebacker, and used off of the edge in blitz packages. He is truly one of the rare talents in this entire class and would immediately help this defense reach the next level.

Jon Machota of SportsDay actually has the Cowboys making the move for Derwin James:

13. Dallas Cowboys: Derwin James, S, Florida State

It might seem odd seeing the Cowboys work a trade with a division rival, however, Dallas traded with Washington to land DeMarcus Lawrence in 2014. This move will be pricey. The Redskins could easily just pick James themselves. But the Cowboys’ offer of first- and second-round picks (19 and 50 overall) gets the job done.

Derwin himself said that the Cowboys would have to trade up for him.

I’d give up 19 + 50 for a player of James’ caliber.

Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia Bulldogs

NCAA Football: SEC Championship-Georgia vs Auburn Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Right behind James in terms of who fans love is Roquan Smith. Smith was the engine that made Georgia go in 2017, and the Bulldogs were a half of football away from taking home the program’s first national championship since 1980.

Roquan Smith is a prototypical head-hunter kind of linebacker that always knows where to be. The 6-foot-1 and 236-pounder may be a little undersized, but his talent, his instincts, and his style of play more than makes up for that.

The NFL is trending towards smaller, quicker linebackers, anyways. Just look at Deion Jones, for example. The 2016 second-rounder has grown into a star for the Falcons’ defense. Can Roquan do the same for the Cowboys?

Selecting a player of Smith’s caliber would do two things: give the Cowboys’ a legitimate playmaker on the defensive side of the ball; and add insurance behind Sean Lee and shore up the linebacker position after Anthony Hitchens’ departure to the Colts.

Smith made a whopping 137 total tackles in 2017 to go along with 14 tackles-for-loss, 6.5 sacks, and forced one fumble. He was the best player on the national-runner ups, and he was a consensus first team All-American.

Roquan Smith might not slide out of the top-ten, but if he does? I’d strongly consider making a move for him.

Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama Crimson Tide

NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Alabama vs Clemson Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps the top wide receiver prospect in this class is Alabama’s Calvin Ridley. For a team that just cut ties with Dez Bryant and has a need at the receiver position, it is easy to see why the Cowboys would be interested in the 6-foot-1 and 190-pound target.

In fact, the Cowboys used one of their 30 visits on the Miami native, telling us that there is at least some real interest from Jerry Jones and company.

Ridley made play after play during his career in Tuscaloosa with multiple quarterbacks. Each and every Saturday, the Miami native left his mark by making big grabs, flying by defenders, and reaching the end zone for six. No matter what kind of coverage that defense coordinators came up with, Ridley still made life hard for opponents. The ‘Bama star caught 63 passes for 967 yards and five scores in 2017. Our own Dave Halprin wrote why he would like to see Ridley wearing The Star:

I don’t care about his size or his production numbers in a run-heavy Alabama offense with shaky quarterback play in the passing game. He’s got the three things this offense needs in a receiver. He is the best route-runner in this group; he’s silky smooth. He has speed, not off-the-charts speed, but enough speed to threaten cornerbacks so they have to respect it, opening up his underneath routes. Those first two qualities lead to something the Cowboys desperately need, a receiver that can create his own separation. And he has good hands. A high-quality route-runner with speed and hands? Sign me up.

Ridley was picked 16th by the Ravens in the SB Nation writer’s mock draft. Would Dallas want to move up for him if they believe he won’t make it to 19?

Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech Hokies

Camping World Independence Bowl - Tulsa v Virginia Tech Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Out of all the names on this list, this is probably the least likely to end up wearing silver and blue. Albeit, three of these guys are longshots.

Nonetheless, Tremaine Edmunds is the kind of prospect that could solve many of the Cowboys’ problems on the defensive side of the football. The 6-foot-5 and 253-pound linebacker is a unique and rare athletic specimen that looks like he was made in a lab specifically to play the game of football. He also has a lot of talent, too: 108 tackles, 14 TFLs, 5.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles in 2017.

Edmunds’ crazy athleticism, combined with his upside, makes him an intriguing prospect that will more-than-likely not fall out of the top-ten. Some believe that his rangy frame, speed, and skill-set makes him the best linebacker prospect in this class.

This is the least likely option to happen, in my opinion, as there is a very good chance Edmunds is the first of this list to come off of the board come Thursday night. Still, though, Tremaine Edmunds is the type of talent that would potentially do wonders for this defense.

Vita Vea, DT, Washington Huskies

Portland State v Washington Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Another favorite among Cowboys fans and some members of BTB is Vita Vea.

Vea, 6-foot-4 and a shade under 350 pounds, is seen by many as the top defensive tackle prospect in the 2018 NFL Draft. Vea is the kind of prospect that can instantly upgrade the interior of the defense, as he uses his large frame to clog up blockers and stuff up runs in the middle. His thick, strong lower body gave him an edge over offensive linemen on the collegiate level, and his power could do the same in the NFL.

DannyPhanton describes Vea as the kind of player that would insatnely make Maliek Collins, DeMarcus Lawrence, and Sean Lee better.

The front office has shown they aren’t interested in one-tech defenive tackles that cannot rush the quarterback but Vea doesn’t fall into that category. The addition of Vea makes Maliek Collins better, he makes DeMarcus Lawrence better, and he makes Sean Lee better. Bring him to Dallas and the boys in blue are on their way to having a fierce front line.

So, with that in mind, should the Cowboys do what it takes and trade up for Vea if he still on the board after Washington’s pick (13)? If Vea is going to make this defense instantly better, it’d be worth it.


If the Cowboys decide to make a move up in the first-round, who would you like to see be the pick?