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Cowboys Draft: Trading for top picks is a risky proposition

By now we've all analyzed the Bears-Panthers ad nauseum. If you really want my two cents worth: I'd say the Bears were the clear winners. They got help now and in the future.

The Panthers were desperate to land a franchise this year. They paid a steep price to move up eight picks. Clearly, they felt the Texans were going to draft the guy they wanted.

Who “that guy” is we won't know until April 27th. Frankly, I don't see any of the top prospects at the position leading to instant success. Carolina needs more than one player to ail their woes.

Also, if you look at trades made prior to the draft for the top pick it has been a mixed bag. We'll exclude trades made during the draft and after the players were drafted (the /Phillip Rivers quarterback swap for example).

The Oilers moved up to nab running Earl Campbell in 1978. In exchange, Tampa Bay got a player and several picks. One turned out to be quarterback Doug Williams. Not bad for both teams.

The Rams moved up to draft quarterback #1 in 2016. They gave up six picks to the Titans in return. One of those picks was . Big advantage Tennessee.

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Then there's 2001 when the Falcons moved up to take quarterback . They gave up a player and three draft picks to the then- to do it. One of the picks? Some running back from TCU named LaDanian Tomlinson. Oops.

As you can see, it's been a mixed bag over the years. We'll see who eventually comes out the winner of this year's “Big Trade.”

The Cowboys have twice traded up for the top pick. Both times they pulled the trigger they not only got the pick right, they paid very little for it. One might even qualify the first trade as outright theft.

Someone call the cops

In 1973, Dallas shipped off Tody Smith and Billy Parks to the Oilers for the first pick and a third-round pick in the 1974 Draft. They turned those picks into defensive end Ed “Too Tall” Jones and some quarterback named .

Grand theft with malice aforethought. Straight to jail with you, Tex Schramm!

Cowboys Blog - Too Tall Is Too Good, #72 Belongs To Ed Jones
ANAHEIM, CA – 1985: Ed “Too Tall” Jones #72, a top pick in 1974 of the , during a 1985 NFL game against the at Anaheim Stadium in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

That might have been one of the biggest trade heists in the NFL up until the Herschel Walker trade in 1989. Ah, the gold old days when the Cowboys were merciless trade pirates…

Clearly, Dallas won that trade and it wasn't even close. Smith would only play three more seasons and finished his career in Buffalo. Parks would only play three seasons in Houston and be out of the NFL after 1975.

Dallas Does It Again

You'd have thought the NFL would have got the memo after the Cowboys fleeced the Vikings. But no, they didn't. In 1991 and struck again.

The Cowboys sent three players — linebackers Eugene Lockhart and David Howard along with Ron Francis — and their first and second-round picks to New England. The Patriots turned those picks into Pat Harlow and defensive back .

Dallas selected and began a dynasty fueled a lot by the . Not quite the brazen thefts perpetrated on the Vikings and Oilers, but still a clear win for Dallas.

Looking Ahead

As noted above, there wasn't anyone there that would warrant another such move by the Cowboys this year. But in the next two years to come?

Depending on which team is sitting in the catbird seat the Cowboys might need to consider pulling the trigger for a third time. If the team at the top is set at the position where the top player out of college plays — and it's a big need for the Cowboys — I say do it.

Fortune favors the bold. And with a few exceptions over the years, the team making the move has not regretted doing so.

Richard Paolinelli
Richard Paolinelli
Richard has covered sports at all levels - from local, prep, college, and professional - since 1984. He has been a fan of the Dallas Cowboys since 1969. Since retiring as a full-time sports writer in 2013, he has written and published several novels, two dozen short stories and two sports non-fiction books.

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