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How a couple of assists from a division rival helped the Cowboys score big in the 2020 draft

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Twice, a kind and gentle division rival helped Dallas forge a truly memorable draft.

Philadelphia Eagles v Miami Dolphins
Can’t you just feel the love?
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

There is no denying that the 2020 NFL Draft was incredibly successful for the Dallas Cowboys. The haul of talented players, most taken much later than almost all the boards predicted they would go, is remarkable. Especially for a team that went into things with only seven picks while being stuck in the middle of the order each round, plus the very last comp pick of the fifth. They didn’t even have a sixth-rounder after trading it away for Robert Quinn. So the way Yacht Jerry, Stephen Jones, Mike McCarthy, and most of all Will McClay parlayed that into what is widely viewed as one of the best groups in the league is just remarkable. Not only was this extremely satisfying, it was entertaining and even a bit of fun. Adding a special cherry on top of this creamy bowl of football goodness is that one of the most enjoyable aspects of things is that the Cowboys got not just one, but two significant assists from the one team in the NFL that most hates doing anything to benefit Dallas: Our beloved and kind-hearted rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles. This post is a testament to how they selflessly overcame those baser instincts to offer a couple of helping hands.

The first bit of largess from the city of brotherly hate and loathing (based on the reaction videos floating around Eagles twitter) came about through a bit of a miscalculation. Philly was looking to take a wide receiver from the jump. CeeDee Lamb was seen by many as the best WR in the draft, although at least two important participants in the draft apparently disagreed. The Las Vegas Raiders took the first wide receiver of the draft at pick 12, Henry Ruggs III. He has one advantage over Lamb, and that is pure speed. Ice cream, as Bryan Broaddus is wont to observe. Then three picks later, the Denver Broncos selected Jerry Jeudy, whose most favorable attribute is superb route-running skills. Lamb is perceived as the most balanced and complete receiver of the trio, and is also the biggest player. He certainly gets a lot out of his catches with phenomenal yards after the catch and some legitimate tackle-breaking ability. In any case, at this point there was little debate about Lamb being the best receiver still available.

So with the Atlanta Falcons on the clock and the Cowboys on deck, the Eagles seriously considered trading up to 16 to snatch Lamb, who they coveted. Three things intervened. First, they didn’t want to spend too much draft capital to move up, since they had important things to do with their day two picks, like draft QB Jalen Hurts in the second to back up Carson Wentz, a true vote of confidence in their starter. And, as the linked article notes, they had already traded away picks 85 and 166 to acquire CB Darius Slay in a trade, limiting what they could offer. Second, this was the Falcons, who are about as fond of trading back in the first as the Eagles fans are of Santa Claus.

And there is that third factor that likely entered into their calculations as well. That was EDGE K’Lavon Chaisson, who was also still available. In the weeks preceding the draft, he had become the presumptive target for Dallas, especially once CB C.J. Henderson went to the Jacksonville Jaguars at 9. Everyone knew that the Cowboys had to go defense in the first round. That was where all the signpost pointed, including recent Dallas draft history and tendencies. So, with the Falcons expected to take a cornerback, which they did and probably told the Eagles during the quick discussions about a trade, there was probably some belief that Lamb could still make it to Philadelphia’s first round pick at 21. Dallas just couldn’t ignore that need at DE.

Except they did, of course, with general hijinks and hilarity ensuing among Eagles fans, as documented in OCC’s Trolling the Nation post.

Doubtlessly, that was an unintentional gift to Dallas, and one that perhaps Philadelphia couldn’t have avoided. However, the Eagles would get a chance to quite deliberately provide assistance to the Cowboys on day three, and in the spirit of generosity and all around bonhomie commonly associated with them and their delightful fans, they were glad to oblige.

Through their scheduled picks in the first four rounds, the Cowboys had added a defensive tackle, and not one, but two cornerbacks to Lamb, addressing three significant needs. Now, they were eyeing center Tyler Biadasz - but started to worry that he would not make it to their spot at 164 in the fifth. Centers were taken before this point, and Biadasz was seen by Dallas as the best option to provide not just a future starter, but someone who might compete for the job right off the bat. The Eagles possessed the last pick of the fourth round, 146. Once upon a time that would not have been available, but the rule change a few years back to make compensatory picks eligible to be traded put it into play. The Cowboys offered 164 and a 2021 fifth-round pick. The Eagles had taken their own offensive lineman, Jack Driscoll, at 145, so they were not overly concerned about the Cowboys getting a player that they were targeting. They graciously agreed to the trade, and Dallas got a new beard - uh, center.

But that raises questions about why Philly didn’t see a player worth taking at 146? If they had, there was always a chance Biadasz would have been taken before Dallas got their crack at him. That would likely have been a good bet, as Washington wound up taking a center at 156, followed by the Cleveland Browns at 160. And that 164th pick? Philadelphia would trade it away to move down and get an extra seventh-rounder. The deal with Dallas wound up being one where the benefits to each side seem decisively tilted toward the Cowboys. Turning down the trade just might have shifted the things a bit more in their favor, but by accepting it the only real thing gained by the Eagles was pure volume. That may have been an objective for them after a couple of years of very limited picks due to using them in trades. But fifth-, sixth-, and seventh-round slots, which are the bulk of what they added for this year and 2021, don’t often yield much of value.

However, we come here not to criticize the Eagles given how the goodness of their hearts is the only real explanation for all this, but to thank them for their assistance in helping the Cowboys have one of the best drafts in memory.

And maybe have a giggle or two.