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Cowboys Draft Strategy: 1st round options

Cowboys Braintrust


Sitting at 27 overall in the draft leaves the Cowboys with several options. They can stay put and draft the best player of value. That means getting a player that can contribute immediately and be a long-term starter. They can also put a package together to move up to secure a specific player that they have targeted. Then, of course, is the move that every fan hates to hear: trading down out of the 1st round and adding extra picks in the top 100. Here are the pros and cons of each scenario.

Stay put and take the best player of value:

Pro: This is always a solid, conservative approach. The draft rarely falls along predictable lines. Teams invariably reach for players, which pushes better talent down the draft. The Cowboys are drafting later than in recent years at 27. This draft matches up well with the areas that Dallas would like to address. It is deep with running backs, defensive linemen and cornerbacks. There will be players at each of those positions that would be a good value. Players that should be available at 27 are DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa, CB Kevin Johnson, CB Byron Jones, CB/S Eric Rowe, LB Eric Kendricks. There is also the possibility of a highly rated player falling to them. Players like DE Bud Dupree, RB Todd Gurley, RB Melvin Gordon, DT Malcom Brown all could slip on draft day for various reasons.

Con: Waiting for the draft to come to you is a passive approach. Jerry Jones and company rarely take a timid stance when it comes to drafting. Waiting at 27 for a specific player to fall is usually a losing proposition. This draft only has around 20 players that grade out as a first round talent. Expecting one of those players to be available could turn out to be a disappointing outcome.

Trade Up:

Pro: Don’t expect a huge trade up, as the cost of moving very high will surely be expensive. But, the Cowboys have a substantial record of making moves in the first round to get a player they covet. This could be a similar situation to 2010 when Dez Bryant kept falling in the 1st round over character concerns. When he fell far enough to be within Dallas’ range, they struck a trade with New England to move up to 24 from 27 to select him. A similar situation could occur this year. If the Cowboys do trade up, it will be for a skill position player or an impact defensive player. Names that might entice them to make such a move are Gurley, Gordon and Dupree if they were to fall within striking distance.

Con: Trading up is expensive. While the Cowboys had a successful season last year, they still lack depth at many positions. The most effective way to build depth is through the draft. Moving up only a few spots will cost them at least their 1st and 3rd round picks. There will be very good players in the 3rd round that could contribute immediately next year. The player that forces the Cowboys to trade up and relinquish valuable assets must be a transcendent talent. The Morris Claiborne draft should still be fresh in everybody’s mind.

Trade Down:

Pro: Gathering as many picks in the top 100 is always a solid plan. Players in this range are generally very talented and have a good chance of becoming top contributors. As stated above, there are only around 20 players that grade out as a first rounder. The next tier of talent is a pool of around 50 to 60 players that grade as second round talent. By dropping down into the first part of the second round, the Cowboys could add an extra 3rd round pick. This would give them four picks in the top 91.

Con: Trading back could mean losing out on a targeted player. For instance, lets assume they want one of the top running backs and Gurley and Gordon are off the board when the Cowboys are on the clock at 27. The Cowboys might feel that the next best running back on their board (Tevin Coleman, possibly) is not a great value there. So, hypothetically speaking, they found a willing trade partner in the Jets at 37. By dropping down 10 spots, they run the risk of another team picking Coleman before their next turn. Trading down out of the first round is also a let down to those of us who look forward to the first night of the draft.

A case can be made for each of these approaches. One could argue each and make a convincing case, but weird things happen in the draft (ie, the Eagles reaching for Marcus Smith in the 1st round). Nobody knows how things will shake out. The best approach to take is to wait until draft night and be ready to seize an opportunity if and when one presents itself. But the absolute must in drafting is to get value for the pick, regardless of where it is. That’s what the good teams do.

Ben Hammons




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