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PFF’s latest mock draft shows the potential risk of a Cowboys’ trade down in round one

Could the Cowboys trade down in round one for the first time since 2013?

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 03 Virginia Tech at Florida State

Under Jerry Jones, the Dallas Cowboys trading down in the first round has been virtually nonexistent. Since 2007, Dallas has opted to move their selection down in round one just once. This happened back in 2013 when the Cowboys sent the 18th overall pick to the San Francisco 49ers for pick 31 and a third-round selection.

For Dallas, this unusual trade back actually worked out very well. Despite moving back 13 spots, the Cowboys were able to select center Travis Frederick in round one. Frederick went on to become a five-time Pro Bowler during his six-year career. Dallas also used the extra third-round selection on Baylor wide receiver Terrance Williams. The wideout also played six years in Dallas, posting some solid production. Williams totaled 500 plus receiving yards in five of his six seasons in the NFL.

Although it worked out for the Cowboys in 2013, for the most part, Dallas has been uninterested in moving back in round one, especially if they hold a premium pick like they do in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft. For the first time since 2016, and the second time since 2011, the Cowboys hold a top-ten pick. But, if this is the year the Cowboys decide to buck their own trend and try to acquire more picks by moving down, what could a potential deal look like?

Well, first off, there’s some serious risk involved trading out of a top-ten pick. If you trade away with a solid prospect on the board, they’ll be linked to your team for the rest of their career. You could trade away from a potential All-Pro, just to acquire more picks that could eventually add up to the level of skill that one player possesses.

You also could find yourself stuck. If you trade down and get back on the clock and aren’t in love with any available prospects, you’ll be forced to reach on a player you don’t feel is worthy of the selection. This exact scenario was demonstrated perfectly in Pro Football Focus’s latest mock draft.

PFF had these nine players, (Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance, Ja’Marr Chase, Kyle Pitts, Devonta Smith, Penei Sewell, and Patrick Surtain II), off the board before Dallas came on the clock. Despite missing out on Sewell, Pitts, and Surtain, the Cowboys still had offensive tackle Rashawn Slater, and cornerback Jaycee Horn as two potential selections. Instead of selecting Slater or Horn, PFF had Dallas sending pick 10 to the New England Patriots. (Note: PFF does not layout full details of trades in their mock drafts, but we can assume Dallas received pick 15 and likely 46 in the move up for a QB)

New England went ahead and selected Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, followed by Rashawn Slater, Jaycee Horn, Jaylen Waddle, and Christian Darrisaw going off the board. For the Cowboys, this is a disaster scenario. They traded away from two intriguing prospects in Slater and Horn, and now are stuck at 15 having to likely reach on a player with some issues.

In this draft, PFF has them selecting Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley, whose draft stock has really plummeted since news broke he will require back surgery. Here’s what PFF had to say about the pick.

Farley’s draft stock recently took a tumble with the elite athletic testing of Surtain, Horn and Greg Newsome coupled with news of another back surgery for Farley. I would still feel confident taking him here after the trade down for Dallas, especially considering his fit in Dan Quinn’s defense with ideal length and speed for the position. Farley came away from his 2019 season with a 90.5 coverage grade after he allowed just 36% of the passes thrown into his coverage to be completed.

There’s no telling if Farley will be able to overcome his injuries and be a very productive player, but taking someone with that kind of question mark in the first round is a big gamble. Granted, Dallas likely walks away from this deal with another second-round pick, but is that worth trading away from an instant plug-and-play starter in Slater or Horn?

How would you feel about a trade down in round one? Would you feel comfortable trading away from a player of Slater’s or Horn’s caliber to acquire more picks?