As we look ahead to this Thursday’s night and the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, let’s hypothesize about a very possible scenario. We’re going to consider what the Cowboys can reasonably do if they want to move up in the first round; what sort of trade value their 2017 picks really have.
Put yourself in the Dallas Cowboys war room. The pass rusher you really covet is falling pick by pick, but you don’t think he’s going to make it to the #28 spot. This is the THE guy; you have to make this happen. Anyone else will feel like a disappointment.
Based on the traditional chart for draft pick value, which you can find easily at multiple sources on the web, here is the mathematical trade potential for all of the Cowboys 2017 picks:
- Rnd 1, Pick 28 = 660 points
- Rnd 2, Pick 60 = 300 pts
- Rnd 3, Pick 92 = 132 pts
- Rnd 4, Pick 133 = 40 pts (appx)
- Rnd 6, Pick 211 = 7-10 pts (appx)
- Rnd 7, Pick 228 = no value
- Rnd 7, Pick 246 = no value
Now, back to the war room. You’re really wanting “War Daddy” pass rusher so you start looking at the teams ahead of you. You’re willing to give up your third-round pick to move up. That’s a nice deal, right?
The combined value of the 1st (660) and 3rd (132) picks is just 792 points. That puts you somewhere around the 21st or 22nd picks, which are valued at 800 and 780 points. You move up 6-7 spots and lose a third-round pick.
Now, third-round picks are a mixed bag. You may not be sweating that loss if it means another average guy like Terrance Williams or J.J. Wilcox, or even someone on Tyrone Crawford’s level.
But what about another instant stud like Maliek Collins? How about a future star like DeMarco Murray? Or how about a future Hall of Famer like Jason Witten?
Let’s get a little crazier. What if someone unexpectedly falls out of the Top 10, such as safety Malik Hooker with his health concerns? Could you possibly move up to snag one of them?
Combining your first and second-round picks, like the Cowboys did in 2012 to go get Morris Claiborne, gives you way more value. Unfortunately, the pick value get exponentially higher as you move up. The combined value of those picks in 2017 is 960 points, which is roughly equal to the 17th draft pick.
You moved 6-7 slots with your 1st and 3rd-round picks but only 11 slots with the 1st and 2nd rounders. Ideally, you hope that the quality of the player selected offsets the diminishing return on the trade. That becomes a huge part of your evaluation and ultimate decision.
And in case you’re wondering, the combined value of all three picks would only get you to about the 14th pick. That’s not enough movement to give up so many turns at the roulette wheel, nor would it likely get you to where a Top-10 talent would fall.
Given the Cowboys painfully obvious need for a dynamic edge rusher, they might justify combining picks to get one. One could argue that a boost to the pass rush will do more to help the secondary than any one cornerback or safety could. It is reminiscent of the logic behind drafting Ezekiel Elliott over Jalen Ramsey last year; a ripple effect helping the defense more than a single player can.
Coming off a 13-win season and division title, the Cowboys are looking to push their young team to the next level of contention. While they have a big window ahead for guys like Elliott and Dak Prescott, other stars such as Jason Witten, Sean Lee, and Dez Bryant don’t have another decade to chase their first Super Bowl. Dallas needs to attack this now while their veterans are still able to be major contributors.
That mentality could push the Cowboys to try to move up in this draft. It will depend on how the defensive end talent starts coming off the board. Whether it’s a top-tier guy falling or a run on pass rushers draining the pool quickly, Dallas may need to get aggressive if they want to add a game-changing talent now.