The Dallas Cowboys shocked the world during the 2018 regular season when they sent their 2019 first round pick to the Oakland Raiders for Amari Cooper. At the time, they were 3-4 and looking at having a top 15 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Just a couple of months later after the Cowboys finished the season 7-1 and reached the divisional round of the playoffs, that first round pick is the 27th overall pick in this year's draft.
At the time, it was perceived as a terrible value by most around the league as the Philadelphia Eagles had made a trade for Golden Tate for a third and the Houston Texans had acquired Demariyus Thomas for a fifth. Well, after the way the season played out, it's easy to see that the Cowboys got great value out of the their trade. Cooper made the Pro Bowl and had his third 1,000 yard season in his four-year career.
As the Dallas Cowboys are in the early stages of roster building for the 2019 season and hope to make another run in the playoffs, they'll be looking at all avenues to improve their roster. This includes free agency, the draft, and trades.
The Dallas Cowboys are a team that is close to contending for their sixth Lombardi Trophy and the front office looks ready to get aggressive in the player acquisition department with this young corp. So, with that in mind, should the Dallas Cowboys use their first round pick from 2020, to help their team this year?
Let's look at several options.
Trading Up in the Draft
As we all know by now, the Dallas Cowboys don't have a first round pick in this year's draft. Like Stephen Jones said, when the Raiders go on the clock at 27, we'll all be thinking about Amari Cooper. He'd easily be the best receiver in this draft class.
Just because the Cowboys don't have a first round pick now, doesn't mean they couldn't end up with one during the draft.
Their pick at 58 has a value of about 320 points, according to the draft pick value chart that most NFL teams use to assign value to picks. If they wanted to move up in the draft using their second round pick and say their third, which has a value of 140 points, they could potentially get as high as the 44th overall pick held by the Green Bay Packers.
When looking at future picks, the general rule, is that they hold they are valued at a full round less than picks in the current year would be. So the Dallas Cowboys 2020 first round pick, would be the equivalent of their second round pick this year. So if they wanted to use their first round pick in 2020 to move up in the draft, they would have to use it in a package with another pick.
Here's how they far they could go up by using their first in a package with another pick.
- 2020 first (320) + 58 (320) = the 29th overall pick held by the Kansas City Chiefs
- 2020 first (320) + 58 (320) + 90 (140) = 23rd overall pick held by the Houston Texans
- 2020 first (320) + 90 (140) = 46th overall pick held by the Green Bay Packers
The New Orleans Saints used their 2019 first in combination with their 2018 first to go up in the draft to select Marcus Davenport during the 2018 NFL Draft, so it's not an unheard of proposition for teams to use their future first round picks to move up in the draft.
For the Cowboys to want to give up that much to go up, they'd have to see a player falling that they love. In every draft, there are always those players that you're shocked fell as far as they did. Think Derwin James and Harold Landry from 2018.
The added benefit to trading into the first round is the fifth year option. Teams can choose after a players third year if they want to activate a team option for the player's fifth year. Byron Jones will be playing on his fifth year option this season unless the Cowboys are able to get a long-term extension done with Jones.
Depending on the player, it may make a lot of sense for the Cowboys to move up that far in the draft. There are always really good players that fall for whatever reason and the Cowboys need to stand ready to take advantage.
Trading for Proven Talent
As we saw in the Amari Cooper deal, trading for proven talent can make at times make a bigger impact than a rookie can. As the Cowboys look to contend in 2019, they can look to the Amari Cooper deal as a reason to use their future first round pick to fill a major need. Say defensive tackle? Maybe safety? What about a proven tight end?
The Dallas Cowboys over recent years have been reluctant to sign high-priced free agents, instead opting to target the second and third tier free agents to supplement their excellent draft class. Sending their first for Amari Cooper was a bold play that paid off and looks to be a bargain for a potentially elite wide receiver.
Where draft picks are valuable is in the rookie deals that a team gets out of its drafted player, but the level of player that you get in the draft doesn't work out. The Dallas Cowboys have typically hit with flying colors in the first round of the draft — Taco Charlton and Morris Claiborne being the exception –, which is why it was a bit of a surprise to see them move their first in 2019. Maybe they're realizing that he window only stays open for so long and it's important to take advantage of that window in any way possible.
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Obviously, who becomes available, and what they cost are always determining factors when it comes to making a trade. If a player comes available via trade that the Cowboys really like, they need to consider the idea of moving their 2002 first round draft pick. In 2018 it paid off. Could their 2020 provide a sequel.