The Dallas Cowboys have only picked in the first round of the NFL Draft with the 28th overall selection once, back in 1978 selecting Michigan State DT Larry Bethea. As we rapidly approach the 2017 NFL Draft, the Cowboys are slated to pick at 28 again thanks to their 13-3 campaign in 2016, but will they stay home late in the first or look to move out of the pick?
A drastic change from the fourth overall pick that kept Cowboys Nation talking about - at best - the same six or seven names in the first round, plenty of enticing options have been discussed at the back-end of the first round this year. With that said, it sounds like Jerry Jones is more than prepared to use this 28th overall pick - one that could see plenty of defensive talent remaining on the board at positions of need for his team like CB or DE - in a trade situation to slide up or down the draft order.
Jerry Jones on 28th overall pick: "This sets up for a little potential trade action to try to gain some value or try to hit an opportunity.
With the strength of this draft being the overall depth on the defensive side of the ball though, trading down from pick #28 might make a lot of sense for the Cowboys. The last time they did so, they entered the 2013 Draft with the 18th overall pick. Trading it to the San Francisco 49ers, the Cowboys positioned themselves with the 31st pick to draft Wisconsin center Travis Frederick.
Thought of as a reach at the time by draft analysts everywhere, Frederick has become a 3-time All-Pro and Pro Bowler - anchoring the stellar offensive line that Dallas has built in the draft. In making this trade down, the Cowboys acquired an extra third round pick, used on WR Terrance Williams at 74th overall. Six picks later, they landed safety J.J. Wilcox.
Say what you want about Terrance WIlliams, but his recent four-year extension with the team proves how valuable he is for the Cowboys' offensive continuity. Having also gotten production out of Wilcox prior to him leaving this offseason for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, its safe to say that recent history with the Cowboys trading down for extra value in the draft has worked out well.
Pair this with Dallas' 2016 haul of four starters, a potential heist in Jaylon Smith, and hopeful prospects like Kavon Frazier, Charles Tapper, and Rico Gathers, and the excitement builds further for April 27th's start to the 2017 NFL Draft.
Adding to this excitement is the fact that the Cowboys and Jerry Jones could also target a player at the top of this talent pool, giving up their second or third round value to make a move from 28 towards the top of the first round. Whether or not the Cowboys are one player away on either side of the ball from contending is an interesting debate, with their need for depth primarily in the secondary a large one.
Perhaps dead set on finding his "war daddy" pass rusher though, Jones and the Cowboys may play themselves into position to add a difference making player to their defense in this draft.
Recent history with a move like this hasn't been all that favorable for the Cowboys however, as their last trade up saw them go from the 14th overall pick to the 6th in 2012. Using this top-ten pick on CB Morris Claiborne, who started just 43 games over his five seasons in Dallas, didn't work out as expected.
The Rams landed Michael Brockers with the Cowboys' original first-round pick, trading the extra second-round pick acquired to the Bears to slide five spots down in the same round and take now-Giants CB Janoris Jenkins with one of three 2nd round picks.
According to this trade value chart, the Cowboys' 28th overall pick is worth 660 points. Their 60th overall selection is worth 300 while the third-round pick at #92 overall is worth 124.
For some perspective, all of these picks combined are worth 1,084 points, which could roughly get the Cowboys into the top 15 of the draft order. With the 15th overall pick being worth 1,050 points, it is often this trade value chart shocks fans with how tough it can be to get these deals done at some stiff prices.
If its a hard sell that the player the Cowboys can land at 15 is that much better than the one's that might be available at 28, you should focus on the value of the Cowboys' current picks and see what other teams would have to pay to come up and slide Dallas down for extra value.
In total, the Cowboys' five picks through the first six rounds are worth 1,130.5 value points - with 7th round selections not factoring into this chart.
Every draft is a new opportunity for 32 NFL teams though, and the Cowboys will enter this year's as the talk of the league after dominating this event in 2016 and seeing immediate results. Another draft haul like this one could see the Cowboys cement themselves as a league power, or even just by landing the right star prospect to wear the star in a trade situation.
No matter the case, the Cowboys' 28th overall pick could end up just about anywhere. Let's hope its Super Bowl LII.
Cowboys Draft Class: How Many Will Be Starters In 2018?
The Dallas Cowboys have been showered with praise by most national NFL media outlets for their 2018 NFL Draft class. NFL.com graded the Cowboys as having the 2nd best class in the league, and most other analysts have agreed that the team had a strong showing.
But now, of course, it's time to see what these new players will actually do on the field. Some are hoping the team found 3-5 new starters for the 2018 roster, but history would suggest that is pretty rare.
Dallas' 2016 draft class has been lauded as one of the best in the last decade, especially considering they look to have found their franchise quarterback in round four. That strong class only features four full-time starters heading into 2018, but we have to wonder if that's the outlier and not the norm.
Still, as we look back and examine this 2018 draft class it really appears they have found three day one starters in the first three rounds.
First round pick Leighton Vander Esch is expected to be the starting MIKE linebacker this season, with former second round selection Jaylon Smith moving to SAM. Vander Esch wasn't my favorite option at 19, but he is certainly starter-worthy in this Cowboys LB corps.
On day two the Cowboys added OL Connor Williams and WR Michael Gallup, two of my personal favorite picks of their entire class. Williams should be the starting LG week 1 of the season, and Michael Gallup may overtake Allen Hurns as the most productive WR on the roster by year's end.
What about the rest of the class?
Dorance Armstrong will probably have too much competition to start at defensive end this season, but he should be an interesting rotational pass rusher. TE Dalton Schultz has the chance to surprise some people, but overtaking Geoff Swaim as the "starter" would be unexpected.
After that, the player with the best chance to make the team and contribute early on might be Boise State WR Cedrick Wilson. Wilson was a late day-two, early day-three pick to me so snagging him in the sixth round should provide incredible value to this roster. That wide out room is getting very crowded, though, so Wilson has his work cut out for him heading into camp.
How many of the Cowboys' 2018 draft picks will be starters in 2018? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.
Did the Dallas Cowboys Find 4 Starters in the 2018 NFL Draft?
One of the many winners of the 2018 NFL Draft were, without a doubt, the Dallas Cowboys. Not only did they addressed some of the team's most pressing needs, but they managed to draft very talented, capable players beyond the first round.
Cowboys Nation had to feel better about the rookie class the front office walked away with, specially after the second day of the Draft. Just like last year, they managed to find steals in the second and third rounds. In 2017, they did so with Cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis. Now, they stayed put at their original picks and walked away with OL Connor Williams and WR Michael Gallup.
But first things first. In the eyes of many, Leighton Vander Esch wasn't worth the 19th overall pick. While I do agree that Vander Esch was a questionable selection, the Cowboys fixed arguably their most concerning position of all. As much as it pains to admit it, Sean Lee has yet to play an entire NFL season and Jaylon Smith was pretty much the only other capable starter on the roster.
Although Vander Esch needs to develop a ton before reaching his full potential. he's a week 1 starter and an early contributor for this defense. Whether it felt like a "reach" or not, the Cowboys took a starter in the Boise State linebacker.
Later, the Cowboys managed to add an arguably first-round talent with pick #50 to plug-and-play along the offensive line. Texas OL Connor Williams was also seen as a tackle prospect, but he'll likely start at guard for Dallas as a rookie.
Since Ron Leary left for Denver, the left guard spot hasn't been as stable. Jonathan Cooper did a decent job filling that spot, but with Williams taking his place, the Cowboys dominance in the trenches will finally return. Playing next to All-Pros Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick, Connor Williams might become the best rookie in this class for the Cowboys.
One can't simply say the team found a "replacement" for Dez Bryant since he's a special player and with a very specific skill set, but Michael Gallup from Colorado State has the potential to become the team's WR1 pretty soon.
In the team's effort to build a Dak-friendly offense, Gallup is a crafty and smooth route-runner who has what it takes to play in any spot of the offense. His skill-set will allow him to play anywhere on the field and become Dak's favorite target in a year in which Jason Witten and Dez Bryant will no longer be lining up on his squad.
Taken in the first three rounds, Vander Esch, Williams and Gallup will be unquestionable starters. The question, however, is who else could become a starter for the Cowboys? Who could line up and start in week 1?
Even though it definitely isn't as certain as the other three rookies, I'm betting on Dalton Schultz to be a more important starter than we imagine. Listen, maybe it's not an ideal scenario to have the TE from Stanford start in week 1, but it could be necessary.
The Rico Gathers Adventure might just be over before it starts and Geoff Swaim and Blake Jarwin may not be anything special. In college, Schultz was pretty good at run blocking. In the Cowboys' offense, led by one of the best running backs in the league, Ezekiel Elliott, Schultz may be able to find success earlier than expected.
Besides, he has what it takes to catch passes in the NFL and although he certainly won't be the flashiest, he could be enough to give Dak Prescott a reliable tight end.
Dalton Schultz could be the surprise of this Draft for Dallas. He'll probably become a starter at some point in the season and for a fourth-round pick, that's a very good thing to say.
For a front office that's constantly bashed by Cowboys Nation, their job at this year's NFL Draft was a pretty good one. Now it's just a matter of time to find out which picks were as good as we originally thought.
Why Cowboys Nation Should Feel Better About Leighton Vander Esch
A week ago, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell walked out to the stage at AT&T Stadium to announce the Dallas Cowboys first pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. For the second consecutive year, a large portion of Cowboys Nation was not pretty happy about the player America's Team had drafted in the first day of the Draft.
Boise State's Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch has become one of the main debates among Cowboys fans right now and will continue to be one at least until the season starts. Some are fine with the decision the front office made and some simply don't view Vander Esch as a first round talent.
Naturally, taking Leighton in the first round has been widely compared to the team's last first round pick: Taco Charlton.
Both of these selections resulted in fans all around the world complaining and criticizing the selections since they both seemed like a reach, arguing that they could've gotten better players at other positions.
But fans shouldn't be so quick to compare the Charlton and Vander Esch selections, because they really aren't that similar. Sure, most of the media and Draft fans didn't consider any of these players worthy of a first round pick, but that doesn't mean both players were ranked similarly in the Cowboys' draft board.
Defensive End Taco Charlton, despite showing some very promising flashes towards the end of the year, wasn't able to become a starter at any point during his rookie season. Hopefully he develops into one next season. But when you're talking about first-round picks, being a solid starter at the end of the season at the latest is a very usual expectation.
Possibly what made the Taco pick hurt even more, is the fact that the front office didn't even consider him a first-round talent. Although he was drafted to wear the Star with the 28th overall pick, he wasn't their guy.
The #Cowboys had three first-round grades on DEs, but Taco Charlton wasn't one of them.
With Leighton Vander Esch, the same can't be said. The Cowboys knew he was their guy and that they were going to take him, regardless of the situation. For many weeks we wondered about just every scenario the team might face when they were on the clock.
What if DE Harold Landry is available? What if Calvin Ridley is still on the board? What if Derwin James slides, would they trade up?
For the front office, there was quite a lot of talent to choose from at 19 (not to mention James did slide out of the top 15), but they still took Leighton Vander Esch, even with Landry and Ridley on the board. We might disagree with the pick. We might not think the Boise State's product should've been taken so early. That's completely fine.
But Cowboys Nation should be happy knowing that this was the guy they wanted all along. Maybe if Derwin James hadn't been drafted by the Los Angeles Chargers with the 17th pick, Dallas would have still taken Vander Esch.
"If the Cowboys traded up a few spots in the first round, I believe it would have been to ensure they got Vander Esch, not get James or Edmunds." Dane Brugler on the Cowboys' approach to the Draft.
For now, it's time to root for the Dallas Cowboys' new rookie. Vander Esch will provide a special factor to this defense and has the potential to become a very good starter down the road. Playing side by side with Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith will certainly help his development and turn him into an impact player soon.
At the end of the day, it takes years to properly evaluate how a draft pick turned out in the NFL. There are first round players who turn out to be complete busts just like there are sixth or seventh round players that go on to become superstars in the league.
The Dallas Cowboys did a hell of a job addressing their needs throughout the Draft this year and there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about this year's draft picks. Leighton Vander Esch is without a doubt, one of them.
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