Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones got fans buzzing Wednesday when he stated the team would consider trading up in this year’s NFL draft. This immediately got Cowboys nations’ minds working regarding who Jones has his eye on if he’s willing to move up the ladder from their current draft spot of No. 24.
“Just going in as much as you could say about it until you see what’s there or who’s on the other line, but I would trade up since we’re down as low as we are in those first two, three rounds if we had a chance to and someone we really coveted was sitting at the bottom, and we were able to trade up there and get them,” Jones said.
Dallas hasn’t traded up in the first round of the draft since 2012 to take LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne sixth overall. Aside from Claiborne’s rookie year, he never played more than 11 games in a season for Dallas. Clairborne snagged four interceptions in five years with the Cowboys. In fairness to him, injuries did play a part in him never living up to his draft position.
Jones also traded up two years before the Claiborne pick to draft wide receiver Dez Bryant in 2010. While Bryant’s prime was short-lived, his time in Dallas was far more exciting than Claiborne’s. Dez went to three Pro Bowls and was named All-Pro one time in Big D. So, you can say Jones made the right move jumping up a few spots to grab Bryant as he fell deeper into the first round.
Knowing Jones’ most recent history with trading up in the draft, he probably has a specific player(s) in mind. I’m not exactly sure who that player is, but I’ll tell you this, I don’t think Jones is trading up to draft an interior offensive or defensive linemen, which the Cowboys need desperately.
Jerry loves to make a splash; we know this about the Cowboys owner and general manager. Drafting linemen in the first round, while it makes sense for Dallas (this year especially), isn’t flashy enough for Jones’ Cowboys. Jones has drafted linemen in the first half of round only once before. The Cowboys selected Zack Martin 16th overall in 2014 and Tyron Smith ninth in 2011. But Jerry didn’t trade away assets in moving up to get these players as he did with Claiborne and Bryant.
Now, Jones didn’t specifically say where he’d be willing to move up in the draft. But if he’s talking about it publicly, it would probably be in the first round. If this is the route Jones is looking to go, I think his better judgment will be tossed aside, and he’ll likely go after another wide receiver. The Cowboys have much more significant needs, but Jerry just can’t help himself sometimes. A couple of years ago, wide receiver wasn’t a must either in the first round when Jones selected CeeDee Lamb with the 17th overall pick.
Walterfootball’s most recent mock draft has the first two receivers in this year’s draft going No. 10 (Garrett Wilson Ohio State) and 11 (Drake London USC) overall to the Jets and Commanders. While this draft isn’t as deep at the WR position, I don’t put it past Jones to fall in love with one of these prospects and talk himself into trading up to draft one of them.
Receivers like Chris Olave (Ohio State) and Jameson Williams (Alabama) are also projected to be gone before the Cowboys’ pick. So, if Jones gets antsy and envisions any of these players lining up alongside Lamb and Michael Gallup (once he returns from an ACL injury), I can certainly see him giving up picks to do so.
Again, Dallas does not need to draft a first-round receiver, even after trading Amari Cooper. Now, if Jones is looking to trade up to draft one of the top offensive or defensive linemen, I’m all for that. An edge rusher like Jermaine Johnson or George Karlaftis would be ideal if Jones can pull it off.
Aidan Hutchinson (Michigan), Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon), and Travon Walker (Georgia) are all likely to be drafted among the top seven picks. I don’t see Dallas being able to move up that high from 24. I know we all love the glamor positions like receiver especially, but you’ve got to invest more in the guys up front that do all the dirty work on Sundays.