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Trade up, stand pat, or trade back - figuring which draft strategy makes the most sense for the Dallas Cowboys

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Should the Cowboys considering moving around on Day 1?

College Football Playoff National Championship - Clemson v LSU Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

The NFL Draft is just a few short weeks away. Before you know it, the Cowboys will be selecting a bunch of new rookies that will make up their 2020 draft class. Unlike last year, the team has a first-round pick; however, which direction they go with that pick is anyone’s guess as there are so many good prospects that should be available when the Cowboys are on the clock.

While being patient and letting the draft come to them should yield them a good player at pick 17, would the team considering moving out of that spot and into somewhere else in the first round? Anything is possible, but what would it take for the Cowboys to swing that type of deal? Today, we’ll take a look at the landscape of three different scenarios, and determine what makes the most sense for Dallas.

What would it take to move up?

The idea of trading up to land one of the elite stars of this draft is appealing, but also expensive. The Cowboys need to have a quality draft haul to replenish many of the players they’ve lost in free agency and cannot afford to give up premium draft capital. Having said that, it shouldn’t rule out the idea entirely if certain special players fall within striking distance at a cost that makes it worth their while. If Ohio State corner Jeffrey Okudah or Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons somehow falls out of the top 10, I’d start making some phone calls. If the Cowboys can get away with only having to give a third-round draft pick (plus maybe something in the later rounds) to land one of these players, that would be win for them.

Okudah is the best corner in the draft, and would give the team a starting caliber player with All-Pro upside on a cheap rookie deal for four years with an option for a fifth. That would fast-track fans in forgetting all about losing Byron Jones in free agency.

It might not seem sensible to spend so many draft resources on another linebacker, but Simmons is special player. Sure, Leighton Vander Esch is only two years in to his rookie deal and the team just gave Jaylon Smith an extension, but things can changes in a hurry. The name of the game is collecting talent and if Simmons somehow falls, the Cowboys should be prepared to make a move.

What should make them stand pat?

The goal here for the Cowboys is to land one of the last remaining blue-chip players remaining on their board. A player with huge upside like Javon Kinlaw, CeeDee Lamb, or K’Lavon Chaisson shouldn’t be passed up on if they are there at 17.

Even though the team did a great job replenishing their defensive tackle position with the additions of Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe, those guys are temporarily solutions. Kinlaw is a game-wrecker and he would solidify the interior defensive line for years to come.

This is a very deep draft when it comes to wide receiver, and the Cowboys should still have some good options if they wait, but that doesn’t mean they should turn away from taking a potential NFL star. Lamb is a ball-hawker who can beat defenders many different ways and would help make the Cowboys offense even stronger.

After losing Robert Quinn in free agency, the Cowboys have a hole on the edge. While he won’t pay immediate dividends, the development of Chaisson could end up being a powerful weapon to pair alongside DeMarcus Lawrence.

And while Okudah is the top corner, Florida’s C.J. Henderson would be a nice consolation prize if he is still available at 17.

When should the team consider trading back?

If things get washed out and they don’t have any of their top players available when it’s their turn to pick, the Cowboys should push hard to move back so they can collect some more draft capital. It’s hard to know where that cutoff is at, but if they find a cluster of players who are are graded equally still there at 17, then they’ll likely still be able to get one of these guys later in the round.

How things play out with quarterbacks may shake things up, and the Cowboys could end up being the benefactor. In a scenario where Dallas get washed out, that could mean teams aren’t reaching for quarterbacks outside the top two guys (Joe Burrows and Tua Tagovailoa). For example, if Miami passes on a quarterback with their fifth overall pick, they could be looking to land either Jordan Love or Justin Herbert with their 18th overall pick. A team like Jacksonville (20th pick) or even New England (23rd pick) may look to jump the Dolphins to snag the last quarterback. The Cowboys just so happen to be in the spot ahead of Miami that could put them in play for a potential trade for a quarterback.

And it doesn’t have to be a quarterback that drives a trade. Just because it’s washed out for the Cowboys doesn’t mean it is for other teams. If one of those last remaining “top” guys are available, it could be worth a little extra draft capital to switch spots. If players like safeties Xavier McKinney and Grant Delpit, or corners Kristian Fulton and Jeff Gladney are all still available, the team stands a great chance to get one of these guys later in the round.

Which of these options are would you like to see the Cowboys do?