After the dust from the spending frenzy of NFL Free Agency settles, the main focus falls on the NFL Draft. Everyone creates their mock drafts of where each team will go, and then usually a team makes a blockbuster trade that makes these mock drafts worthless. 2021 is no exception.
News broke on Friday that the Philadelphia Eagles traded pick number six overall to the Miami Dolphins for pick 12.
Assuming that Carson Wentz plays 75% of the Colts snaps or 70% of their snaps and the team makes the playoffs, the conditional second-round pick included in the trade would become the Eagles’ third first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
While wide receiver was a need for the Cowboys, it wasn’t seen as a first-round need. However, with Lamb remarkably dropping into the Cowboys’ laps, the Cowboys had to take him over defensive players like Patrick Queen, K’Lavon Chaisson, and Trevon Diggs (who they would draft with their next pick).
It was another instance of using the draft strategy of taking the “best player available” rather than filling a need. Even more important than that, the Eagles were sitting there at pick 21, and could easily see the Cowboys passing him up to take a more immediate need.
Not only did Dallas take the obvious best player available, but they filled a need and kept him away from a division rival who they would have to face twice a year for at least the next five seasons.
With the news of this trade, the Cowboys now sit just ahead of the New York Giants picking at 11, and the Eagles picking at 12.
Updated 2021 NFL Draft order: picks 1-12:
However, they might be faced with the same dilemma as last season where they’ll have to take a lesser need to keep him out of the reach of not one NFC East rival, but two. Even more so, it’s going to happen.
We can safely assume what the first nine picks will look like:
- The top four QBs will all be taken
- Penei Sewell is going somewhere between the New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals
- There will be two receivers taken among Ja’Marr Chase, Devonta Smith, and Jaylen Waddle
- A second offensive tackle between Christian Darrisaw or Rashawn Slater
- Patrick Surtain II might be gone before 10 thanks to a great pro day
Kyle Pitts is the wildcard here because he’s easily one of the five best overall prospects in the draft, and the tight end position isn’t held as high of regard as other positions, despite the fact that he looks like he’s going to be the real deal.
For the sake of argument, let’s say the one wide receiver to make it to 10 overall is Waddle, the other tackle to make it is Darrisaw, and Pitts is available, but Surtain is not. Now the Cowboys will have to pick between these players: Jaycee Horn, Caleb Farley, Kyle Pitts, Christian Darrisaw, and Jaylen Waddle.
The truth is that Horn or Farley would be the smart picks in terms of filling the need at a key position from day one in a rebuilding secondary. What that also does is allow all those other players to fall to the Giants and Eagles with the next two picks.
It might be smart in terms of filling the most pressing need, but taking one of the elite offensive players, whether it’s Darrisaw or one of the playmakers between Pitts and Waddle. It keeps the player away from the division rival and makes the position group that much better.
It wouldn’t be too hard to take Pitts or Waddle with Dalton Schultz and Michael Gallup both set to hit free agency next offseason, and could instead be used as trade pieces rather than letting them go for nothing.
Darrisaw makes plenty of sense too when you consider how beaten up the offensive line was last year, and could, like stated previously, make one of their tackles between Tyron Smith and La’el Collins a trade piece as well.
Whether the draft strategy is taking “best player available” or “drafting for need,” the Cowboys’ plan just got altered to include “who do we let our rivals take?” Expect the unexpected.