The Dallas Cowboys have 10 draft picks in April’s upcoming draft. With so much draft capital, expectations are high that the front office will be able to deliver on acquiring a few impact players. While the team doesn’t need 10 different players (especially since seven of them are Day 3 picks), the Cowboys should look to package picks in order to maximize their draft haul. For today’s mock, let’s put on our fancy pants and look to wheel and deal so the team can make a splash in this draft.
The Cowboys' plan for the first round was to hope a defensive beast like Derwin James or Roquan Smith fell far enough to be in striking distance of trading up to grab him. They really want to bolster the defense. While they made some serious phone calls when one of them fell out of the top 10, the asking price ended up being too steep, so the Cowboys came up empty on grabbing the star caliber defensive player they wanted.
On to plan B.
The top-graded player on the Cowboys' board when pick 19 rolls around is a guard. The team needs a starting left guard and they recognize that there is a drop off in talent after the first tier of players are gone, so they decide to secure one of the top guards in this draft with an early-round investment. The problem: there are four potential guards all clustered together - Isaiah Wynn (Georgia), Will Hernandez (UTEP), James Daniels (Iowa), and Connor Williams (Texas). The Cowboys don’t need to use such a high pick in order to get one of these players, so they strike a deal.
***WE HAVE A TRADE***
Trade back: Dallas trades pick 19 (875 points) for New England’s 31 (600) and 63 (276) pick.
The New England Patriots have five draft picks in the top 100. They choose to trade quantity for quality in order to move up and get the player they want. The Cowboys will now have a late first-round pick at 31 as well as adding a late second-round pick at 63 to give them a total of two second-round picks. They should now be able to get their starting left guard at good value. Based on our community draft board, the guard rankings are as follows (Note: Williams is a tackle, but can slide over to play guard):
The Cowboys will now patiently wait until the end of the round to pick, but waiting turns into anxiety as the front office starts getting nervous when some of these offensive linemen start coming off the board. Wynn goes off the board quickly and even their lowest-ranked guy, James Daniels gets selected earlier than expected. There are still two players the Cowboys like, but with both Jacksonville and Minnesota ahead of them and having offensive linemen needs, the Cowboys feel compelled to make a move. They get back on the phones and strike a deal.
***WE HAVE A TRADE***
Trade up: Dallas trades pick 50 (400) and 63 (276) for New Orleans’ 27 (680) pick.
The New Orleans Saints don’t have a second-round pick this year as they traded it away to the San Francisco 49ers in order to select running back Alvin Kamara in last year’s draft (good move). But the Saints go two-for-one here and now take both of the Cowboys second-round picks. Dallas, who scored an extra second-rounder with the Patriots trade, turn around and package it secure another late first-round pick.
With the 27th overall pick, the Cowboys select...
G, Will Hernandez, UTEP
This is a great start for the Cowboys. There is a mile of difference in taking an offensive linemen at 19 versus taking him at 27. Hernandez is a mauler and his addition to the unit will help the Cowboys' offensive line reestablish its place as the best OL in the NFL.
But even more than that, Dallas gets to go again a few picks later.
The Cowboys entertain phone calls from other teams wanting to move back into the first round as players those teams covet are still available. Perhaps a team is considering taking a quarterback (if Lamar Jackson or Mason Rudolph is targeted). While the Cowboys consider their possibilities, none of the trade offers are juicy enough to pass up on a player they love that is still on the board. For that reason, they stand pat at 31.
They were hoping to draft linebacker Leighton Vander Esch at this spot, but the Pittsburgh Steelers stole him out from underneath them at pick 28. Some parties have a healthy debate about the other linebacker still available, Rashaan Evans from Alabama, but he’s not the highest player on their board. In the end, they trust their board.
With the 31st overall pick, the Cowboys select...
WR, D.J. Moore, Maryland
The Cowboys turn their first- and second-round picks of the draft into bargaining chips that land them two offensive stars that many would have loved even at 19. High fives all around the war room.
With Day 1 in the books, let’s take a moment to breathe. Some of us are super excited, but some of us are not. There’s a dark cloud to this. The Cowboys have made two draft picks and neither of them play defense. And to make matters worse, they do not have a second-round pick so it’s going to be a long wait until 81 gets here.
But don’t focus on the dark cloud. Instead, focus on that supercharged upgrade to the offense. The Cowboys made two big moves to help sustain the awesomeness of this offense.
- They now have five strong players starting across the offensive line without having to borrow from their free agent swing tackle. Ezekiel Elliott thanks you.
- Their receiving corps now looks like this: WR1 - Dez Bryant, WR2 - D.J. Moore, WR3 - Allen Hurns, with Cole Beasley a slot guy and Terrance Williams now WR5 on the depth chart. The team will sort out what they want to do with Bryant and between all these guys, there will be some money to be saved in the future, but for now - this is a dangerous receiving group. Dak Prescott thanks you.
Day 2 rolls around...
When the third round gets here, the Cowboys still have some good options to choose from. They are focused heavily on defense with an emphasis on these positions - linebacker, defensive tackle, and safety. As their targets start coming off the board, the team is hoping for one of the following two players to fall to them:
Josey Jewell is picked five spots before they’re up, so the team decides to make a move in order to get the player they want.
***WE HAVE A TRADE***
Trade up: Dallas trades pick 81 (185) and 192 (14.2) for Kansas City’s 78th (200) pick.
With the 78th overall pick, the Cowboys select...
DT, B.J. Hill, N.C. State
The Cowboys are able to get themselves a defensive tackle who can play the 1-tech position without having to invest a premium draft pick. Hill has great quickness off the snap and shows strong instincts to make plays at the line of scrimmage.
The Cowboys are still in need of a linebacker and safety. When they are on the clock, there are two players they really love.
The war room struggles with this one. Both players are steals at this point in the draft and fill a need on the team. The importance of giving the defense a little insurance at the linebacker position is enough to sway them in that direction.
With the 116th pick, the Cowboys select...
LB, Fred Warner, BYU
The Cowboys were interested in both Darius Leonard and Fred Warner as Day 3 options at linebacker, but Leonard was already off the board. With Warner, the defense still gets a team captain with great instincts and fluid movement to change direction in handling coverage responsibilities. His name comes up a lot in mocks, but that is because the Cowboys have a need for his skills and he’s a great value pick this late in the draft.
The war room is still talking about whether they picked the right player. New defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator, Kris Richard, is advocating for the free safety from Southern Miss who was an official 30 visitor. It doesn’t take much to convince the front office as Stephen Jones works the phones. After only one other pick transpires, the Cowboys are back on the clock again.
***WE HAVE A TRADE***
Trade up: Dallas trades pick 137 (37) +171 (22.6) for Baltimore’s 118 (58) pick.
With the 118th overall pick, the Cowboys select...
FS, Tarvarius Moore, Southern Mississippi
Moore has emerged from a complete unknown to a player who is now rising up the draft boards. He was not invited to the combine, but put out remarkable pro day numbers. The 6-foot-1, 199-pound safety from Southern Miss turned in a 4.32 40 time, a 6.5 second three-cone drill, and 39.5-inch vertical jump.
With the 193rd overall pick, the Cowboys select...
OT, Desmond Harrison, West Georgia
The Cowboys swing late for young tackle they can develop.
With the 208th overall pick, the Cowboys select...
RB, Ito Smith, Southern Mississippi
Not only do the Cowboys add a second player from Southern Mississippi, but they add yet another “Smith” to their roster. But at just 5-foot-9, you won’t even really notice he’s there, especially if you blink.
The Cowboys still have their seventh-round pick, but get phone calls from another team that wants it more.
***WE HAVE A TRADE***
Trade out: Dallas trades their seventh-round pick (236) for a sixth round pick in 2019.
In summary, the Cowboys draft haul looks like this:
The Cowboys started with 10 draft picks, made five trades - three of them to trade up, one to trade back, and then one to acquire a late-round draft pick next year.
The draft checklist looks as follows:
- Starting left guard
- Playmaking wide receiver
- 1-tech defensive tackle
- Depth linebacker
- Upside free safety
- Developmental swing tackle
- Change of pace/gadget running back
That’s a lot of boxes checked off.
How do you feel about this draft?