The NFL Draft’s top 10 has already seen some movement as the Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles traded back. The San Francisco 49ers traded up. The Carolina Panthers made a trade while hanging on to the eighth overall pick.
Before the Panthers swapped their sixth-round pick in 2021 and their 2022 second and fourth-round picks for Sam Darnold of the New York Jets, it was assumed that Carolina would go quarterback with the eighth overall pick in the draft. They had been one of the teams rumored to be in on Matthew Stafford and were willing to make a big play for Deshaun Watson. It was obvious they were looking to alter their quarterback situation. So, quarterback to the Panthers at eight seemed like a slam dunk.
And for the Dallas Cowboys, that was a good thing.
The Cowboys want as many quarterbacks and wide receivers going in the first nine picks of the draft as possible because it creates more potential for Kyle Pitts or Patrick Surtain to be available for them at the 10th overall pick.
The Panthers are expected to pick up the fifth-year option on Sam Darnold’s rookie contract giving them the 2021 and 2022 seasons to work with Darnold. It certainly doesn’t keep them from drafting a quarterback this year if there’s one they like. However, this trade might imply that they aren’t sold on the idea that any of the top quarterbacks get to them at number eight. And with holes throughout their roster, they could use the eighth overall pick to perform a trade-back with a team looking to get the fourth or fifth quarterback off the board.
For Carolina, this brings everything to the table as an option. They could go with an offensive lineman. They could go linebacker or cornerback. Or they could add another skill position player in Pitts or one of the wide receivers to provide Darnold and Offensive Coordinator Joe Brady with another weapon to work with.
The problem for the Dallas Cowboys is that this adds another team into the mix that could take Patrick Surtain off the board. Even though plenty of mock drafts have the Cowboys and Surtain tied together, there have been plenty of mocks sending Surtain to the Denver Broncos at nine.
Even if the Panthers don’t take Surtain, they look like they’re out on the quarterback market, which takes another non-quarterback off the board for Dallas. Because that’s the beauty of where they sit in the draft. With the number of quarterbacks, wide receivers, and offensive lineman potentially going in the top nine, the Cowboys were well-positioned to have the pick of the litter when they went on the clock.
We’re still weeks away from the Jacksonville Jaguars going on the clock with the number one overall pick and there’s a good chance we see even more movement before the draft. Certainly, after the first few picks go off the board, there will be a couple of teams that look to trade into the top 10 to get their guy.
This was a good trade for both the New York Jets and the Carolina Panthers. For the Jets, they were able to get a future second and fourth-round pick, but just a sixth in 2021 for a player that they were out on. The Panthers get a quarterback that had a lot of potential coming out of college and is still quite young. If it works out all it cost them was a second-round pick and a couple of mid-to-late round picks. With a much better offensive mind in Joe Brady than Darnold had in Adam Gase, there’s a chance the former USC Trojan could find a second wind to his career.
Unfortunately for the Cowboys, this trade probably takes a player off the board for them. They’ll still get a really good player that has the chance to be elite, but it’s one less player to choose from. And as Norm Hitzges of 1310 The Ticket in Dallas says, “it’s all about options buddy.”