It’s a decision that faces NFL teams every year. When the NFL draft rolls around, do they try to trade around to improve their draft, or do they stay put and let the draft come to them? And if they decide to trade, do they trade up or trade down?
Every year is different. Some years teams have more draft picks to use as ammunition in trades. Other times, they don’t have much room to maneuver. The needs they face on their roster and how they match up with the distribution of talent in the draft also play a role.
Given all of that, let’s take a quick look at the Cowboys situation. They have what one would consider a pretty standard distribution of picks in 2020. They have seven picks and there are seven rounds in the draft. They don’t have a sixth-round pick (the Robert Quinn trade), but they do have an extra fifth-round pick (Cole Beasley compensation). Switching a sixth for a fifth gives them just a bit more draft capital, but it’s still a pretty standard distribution.
Given that they also pick close to the middle of each round (#17 in the first round), that also sets them up as a middle of the pack team when it comes to overall draft capital.
Trading up always seems the most risky strategy. The Cowboys traded up for Morris Claiborne in the 2012 draft, sending their first-round and second-round picks for the rights to the corner. That didn’t work out well as Claiborne was continually hampered by injuries and never reached star status.
So would the Cowboys be tempted to trade up again this year? That was the question asked over at The Mothership.
Who, and at what spot, is a realistic trade scenario for the Cowboys to move up in this year’s draft?– E. J. WILSON / DENVER, CO
David [Helman]: That’s a good question, and there aren’t a ton of options. It’s not going to be a quarterback. This is a talent-rich draft at offensive tackle, but the Cowboys don’t really need one. It seems non-sensical to trade up for a wide receiver. If they were going to do it, I’d guess it’d be a defensive lineman. Perhaps if Auburn’s Derrick Brown or South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw started to slide, they could pull the trigger and jump up a few spots. If they like LSU’s K’Lavon Chaisson, he could represent the best bet to get a pass rusher with upside. Those would be my guesses.
This answer brings up some interesting observations. The Cowboys could decide on a wide receiver (even if they re-sign Amari Cooper), but since this draft is so loaded at the wide receiver position, they could just wait and get a good one instead of moving up.
Defensive tackle could be the position, but this would assume a big change in philosophy for the Cowboys who never invest top resources in the position. Will new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan have that kind of influence, and does he even want a defensive tackle that high up?
What isn’t mentioned is corner. With Byron Jones likely moving on, would they want to trade up to get a corner if they feel the best ones are going early? Of course, all of this could change based on what happens in free agency.
Rob Phillips answers the question by going the other direction.
Rob: There’s still a lot of time left before we can have a good feel for the first round, but let’s have a little fun here. Right now I’d be more interested in moving down a little if the first round unfolds in a way where there’s a cluster of available prospects the Cowboys like. Why? Well, just look at the number of roster holes/potential holes they’ve got at the moment. And it just seems like the Cowboys rarely have more than maybe 20 first-round grades on prospects in a given year anyway.
This approach could make sense for the Cowboys in 2020. There are going to be a cluster of players at wide receiver, safety and possibly corner that will fall into the later first round. Dropping back, like they did when they picked up Travis Frederick, could make sense as the Cowboys try to patch the holes from free agency departures. This would also give them some firepower in the second and/or third rounds to pick up extra players.
Obviously what happens in free agency will make a huge difference on what the Cowboys do in the draft. But, as the lay of the land is today, which draft day decision would you prefer the Cowboys make?
In the 2020 draft, the Cowboys should:
This poll is closed
trade up to get the player they really want
stay put and let the draft come to them
trade down and accumulate picks