There is a general consensus that the Dallas Cowboys' biggest need headed into the 2020 NFL Draft is at cornerback. Unfortunately, there's also a majority projection that the class' top two corners, Jeff Okudah and C.J. Henderson, will be gone before the 17th pick.
Should the Cowboys consider trading up to select one of these players? If so, how much should they be willing to give to do it?
If you were to break the cornerback prospects up into tiers, Okudah would be alone on top as a truly “elite” prospect. He is expected to go in the Top 5 of the draft. Most would have Henderson below him on his own tier, expected to go anywhere in that 5-15 range and also having outstanding potential.
The Cowboys should have their pick of any of that that third tier of talent if they stay put at the 17th pick. They could also potentially trade down and land one of these guys while acquiring an additional mid-round, or go with a top prospect at another position like defensive end or safety.
But if Dallas has the goal to come out of this draft with either Jeff Okudah or C.J. Henderson, they're probably going to have to trade up to make it happen.
Now the idea of landing Okudah is mostly a pipe dream. Again, he's probably going somewhere in the Top 5 and perhaps even the Top 3.
But stranger things have happened.
Dallas would probably have to turn over its 1st-round pick in 2021 if they wanted to move up from 17 to get into that Top 5 range. But if Okudah were to slip down into the 8-10 range, the Cowboys could potentially move up that far by giving up their 2020 2nd-round pick.
If part of your brain just screamed “MORRIS CLAIBORNE,” you're not alone.
Yes, that would be a lot of draft capital to invest in a single player. But Okudah comes into the NFL with the same kind of hype and perceived upside as any of the elite corner prospects we've seen over the years.
Sometimes those guys turn out to be a Claiborne. Other times, they're a Patrick Peterson. That's as true at the top of the draft as it is at the 17th pick or anywhere else.
So no, the Cowboys aren't going to give up next year's 1st to move up for Okudah or any other player (unless Chase Young somehow fell, then LOOK OUT).
But if Okudah were to surprisingly drop toward the bottom of the Top 10, Dallas would have to consider making a major move to land a truly elite cornerback.
The far more realistic scenario is the Cowboys trading up to get Henderson. While he could wind up going somewhere in the Top 10, there's also a good chance he's available somewhere much closer to Dallas' pick at 17.
Perhaps the biggest problem of all is the team picking right before the Cowboys. The Atlanta Falcons are perched at the 16th pick and are also pegged as having CB as their biggest draft need.
Thankfully, trading up just to get ahead of Atlanta isn't nearly as expensive as some other scenarios we discussed.
There are reports that the 49ers, currently at the 13th pick, are looking to trade down. According to the traditional draft value chart, there is a difference of 200 points between the 13th and 17th picks.
The Cowboys could package their 3rd-round pick (180 pts) and one of their two 5th-rounders (24-18 pts) to facilitate that deal.
That trade would still leave Dallas with its 2nd, 4th, the other 5th, and 7th-round picks.
If Henderson slipped even further, say to Denver at the 15th pick, the Cowboys might be able to move up just using a 4th and 5th. They could also send the Broncos their 3rd and maybe get back an additional 4th to even the trade.
The reality of this comes down to many factors, of course. They include:
- Does Dallas see one of Diggs, Gladney, etc. as being on that same talent tier, or at least very close, as Henderson?
- Do the Cowboys feel that their needs at DE, S, or WR are just as concerning as the CB position?
- Do the 49ers, Broncos, or anyone else really want to trade down?
- Could the Falcons also be trying to move up, or do the Cowboys believe they may be looking at another position?
Clearly, Dallas has moves to make if they really want one of these top cornerback prospects badly enough. And given their history, we know the Joneses aren't afraid to make them.
Just add this to the reasons that the 2020 NFL Draft should be very interesting for the Cowboys.