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From consensus to curveballs on the Cowboys’ first 2021 draft pick

The draft is only a week away, so let’s look at some extremes.

NFL: APR 26 2018 NFL Draft
It’s almost here.
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The first round of the NFL Draft is almost here. For the Dallas Cowboys, there is not a lot of suspense, as cornerback Patrick Surtain II has become the player most frequently mocked to them, by a wide margin.

On the latest episode of Ryled Up, the podcast I do with Roy White each week here on the Blogging The Boys podcast network (subscribe on Apple devices right here or on Spotify right here), we took a look at this from a couple of angles. Some of our thoughts may seem a bit surprising. We also discussed how Dan Quinn might already be on the hot seat in Dallas.

The predictions seem too predictable

Everyone knows how the draft will go. Anywhere from three to five quarterbacks will be taken before the Cowboys go on the clock, anyone who doesn’t take a QB will nab Kyle Pitts, a wide receiver, or one of the top OTs, and Dallas will be able to pick the best defender in the draft, Surtain, or trade back to accumulate more picks.

Call us paranoid, but Roy and I think that is a bit too pat. Almost every year, there are teams that make mystifying choices in the first round. While that may happen after Dallas’ current slot at 10, there are some teams ahead of them that have not exactly hit it out of the park in the draft recently. Further, there is a suspicion that some of the talk about certain (cough) Mac Jones (cough) prospects could be more smokescreen than intention.

Admittedly, being so high in the draft order should make things more predictable, and this year is stronger in offensive talent than defense, so the Surtain to Dallas idea could well come into play.

That is, of course, if he is indeed the highest graded player on their board. There are some draftniks who think Jaycee Horn is actually the corner the Cowboys will choose. Caleb Farley may not be out of the mix either, depending on how they view his medical condition. This is a team that has little fear in selecting a player with an injury history if they think he is talented enough, and Farley could well be that guy.

More worrisome is that it might be Dallas that makes a bad move, like overdrafting LB Micah Parsons or DT Christian Barmore. Both are great players, but their positions are just not as valuable as cornerback.

We’ll soon find out the actual decision. But we reserve the right to worry about things going off the rails.

There could be an unexpected trade partner for the Cowboys

It is wild to think that some predict five QBs could go in the first ten picks, but there is a dearth of capable starting quarterbacks in the league. If one or two of the most coveted passers are still available when Dallas goes on the clock, many think the New England Patriots or the Chicago Bears might be on the phone trying to trade up to 10 to get the one they want.

But there may be another, unexpected team that might need to get a QB, and will outbid the other teams to trade with Dallas.

Who? Well, this interesting tidbit about the Philadelphia Eagles came out on Wednesday.

Admittedly, that might just be a bit of posturing from the rookie head coach. It was not the most jarring thing he said.

Okay, then.

Gratuitous (but always enjoyable) digs at the Eagles aside, this does make the thought that they might also be in the QB market at least conceivable. It is not the first time we’ve seen the idea of them looking to draft a quarterback because they weren’t sure Hurts was the guy. Rumors have already gone around that they may be looking to get back in the top 10 of the draft after trading out of the sixth spot. At this point in things, every remark from teams, no matter how idle, is being parsed, dissected, and diagrammed to try and mine some intelligence about what they intend to do in the draft. Saying there will be an open competition at quarterback begs the question, who else is in the mix? At the moment that is Joe Flacco. He is not exactly a rising talent. Obviously Philly will need to add some arms to the roster before camp. But now they may be interested in bringing in someone who can actually make a run at the starting job. If that is a serious interest, then they need to plan on taking one in the first round. They hold pick 12, and with the five quarterbacks mentioned above all getting some degree of first round buzz there should be one that makes it to them.

In a normal year. But this is shaping up to be an unusual draft, with a larger group of quarterback prospects worthy of being taken early than we have almost ever seen. Remember, everyone thinks there will be multiple ones gone in the first nine picks. The only question seems to be whether the total will be three, four, or five.

If only three are gone, and the remaining two are both really good at rock, paper, scissors and trash talking, then the Eagles can just sit there at 12 and wait for things to come to them. However, if they are down to one remaining option with a sufficiently manly mien to suit Sirianni, then they have to worry about one of the other QB needy teams moving ahead of them - which could make Dallas a desirable trade partner, no matter how much they hate the Cowboys otherwise, and in spite of the normal revulsion for trading within the division. That is really not such a big deal in truth, given that the two teams were involved in the trade that got Dallas Tyler Biadasz last year.

There is a very good offer they could make according to the trade charts out there, with the Cowboys picking up a little extra value. It would be pick 12 plus the third-round pick they got in the Carson Wentz trade, 85. Should the Eagles come calling, this is a very likely deal that the two sides could agree on.

And it would almost be a free third-round pick for Dallas. They move back just two spots, the New York Giants at 11 are thought to be much more interested in a wide receiver or other offensive help, and Dallas should just get to make the same decision it would have at 10. It would be far more palatable than trading back with the Bears at 20, or the Patriots at 15. Those teams would have to offer a second-rounder or a future first, and probably a little something else to sweeten the pot, to outbid the Eagles, which might be too rich a price. And going back even five spots puts getting the player the Cowboys want at risk.

At first glance, the idea of engaging in a trade with a beloved division rival like the Eagles might seem silly. But draft needs make strange bedfellows, and as long as Sirianni is going to drop remarks like that, there is a plausible path to something like this scenario.

For more discussion of these ideas, plus whether Dallas should exercise the fifth-year option for Leighton Vander Esch, give us a listen, and don’t forget the full slate of BTB podcasts. We are covering the draft and the Cowboys like a rug.