NFL inside Ian Rapoport recently reported that the Dallas Cowboys, regardless of available talent, aren’t expected to attempt to trade up in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. How much stock should we put in this report given what we know about the team, its needs, and the players available on Thursday night?
Dallas currently has the 10th pick and several players who make sense to draft there based on their roster needs. The multiple opportunities to find significant upgrades or fill major holes on the team put the Cowboys in a great position.
Smokescreens abound, but of this fact I’m (pretty) sure: Don’t expect the #Cowboys to trade up from No. 10 in the first round. Their love for #Florida TE Kyle Pitts has been noted, though they join a long list. But they aren’t expected to come up for him (or anyone).
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 23, 2021
It’s true that Dallas can stand pat at 10th and probably draft any one of numerous logical prospects. Beyond the pipedream of Pitts falling to them, the Cowboys can reasonably expect one the following players to be available:
These are the five names you see most as Top-10 talent in this draft class who fit Dallas’ needs. We certainly don’t expect the Cowboys to take a QB or WR early this year, even though there could be some intriguing names available once they’re on the clock.
In fact, this situation makes it far more likely that Dallas will trade down on Thursday night. They could move down the board and potentially still land one of the aforementioned players, or perhaps set their sights on OT Christian Darrisaw, CB Caleb Farley, or one of several defensive linemen or linebackers.
But while Dallas either picking at 10th or trading down are the more likely scenarios, Ian Rapoport’s assertion that the Cowboys won’t trade up is far from absolute.
For one thing, we’re in the season of misdirection and misinformation as the draft gets closer. Getting the word out that you won’t trade up is exactly what a team who’s looking to do just that wants others to believe.
What’s more, even if the Cowboys are leaning that way today, it’s easier say it now than stick to it when the real action begins. If someone like Pitts or Sewell starts sliding down closer to the 10th pick, and fantasy starts inching closer to reality, it becomes a lot harder to stand your ground.
The Dallas Cowboys in 2021 may not be as aggressive as in the past, when they traded up for Morris Claiborne in 2012 or threw draft picks at WR Roy Williams in 2009. But we saw this team send a 1st-round pick to Oakland for Amari Cooper in 2018; a reminder that the Jones family is still willing to make a bold move when they believe in something.
Ultimately I also don’t expect the Cowboys to trade up this Thursday night. But that’s more because I don’t believe the board will present the opportunity; Pitts and Sewell will go quick and Dallas will be able to grab someone at #10 who is a great talent at a position of need.
But if either of those elite prospects starting falling, or if one of the cornerbacks goes fast than expected, don’t sleep on the Dallas Cowboys making a big move. Regardless of their general modern conservatism, they’ve proven that they can still go big when they believe in the player.