DALLAS — The 2021 NFL draft is closing in and, with the event less than two weeks away, it’s time to dig into what the Dallas Cowboys might do with their top pick.
Suffering through a season that earned the Cowboys a top 10 pick wasn’t fun, but it does make the draft more exciting. With the No. 10 overall selection, the team will have the opportunity to grab one of the elite players ready to enter the league.
However, the Cowboys under owner Jerry Jones have been known to be open to trades during draft weekend. The moniker ‘Trader Jerry’ wasn’t born out of nowhere and even though it’s been eight years since Dallas’ actually traded their first-round pick, Jerry’s son and current Cowboys Executive Vice President Stephen Jones admitted that they’ve been getting calls from teams looking to trade for their selection.
Trading out of No. 10 overall is an interesting proposition for the Cowboys. They desperately need defensive players to help improve one of the worst units the team has ever fielded last year. The team could also use an heir apparent to Tyron Smith at left tackle.
Staying at No. 10 could mean drafting an elite player to boost the defense or securing the offensive line. Adding a cornerback like Patrick Surtain II or Jaycee Horn would be a big help to the secondary and trading that option away would need to mean the Cowboys made out like bandits with a trade.
There is a strong case to be made for trading back, however. Needing more skill on defense means the Cowboys can make a swap, grab extra picks, and give themselves the opportunity to draft more top-end talent in the first three rounds. If the right offer comes around, it could even set the Cowboys up with an extra first-rounder in the 2022 draft.
For a defense – and team – that still has work to do to become Super Bowl-capable, having extra picks over the next couple of years could be an enticing proposition. If you have a window of contention that lasts as long as your quarterback’s contract, then the Cowboys have a four-year shot at competing for a championship, which makes the drafts of the next two years critical.
To make any deal, though, the Cowboys need a team willing to strike when the time is right. With talks happening now, and teams gauging what to expect, it potentially makes any deal that happens on draft night move along quicker. It could also help net the Cowboys a better offer if a bidding war happens.
However, it seems unlikely that the Jones boys will be pulling the trigger on any trade until they see their options when they go on the clock. Any trades being discussed now are probably contingent upon two things: the right player – i.e. a quarterback – being there for a team seeking to move up, and the Cowboys not having someone still on their board that’s too good to pass up – i.e. TE Kyle Pitts.
If those things align, it’s not difficult to see Dallas trading back and adding extra draft picks. The rumors have already begun on which teams might be willing to move up to the No. 10 pick and make a swap with the Cowboys.
The Chicago Bears make for a strong trade partner with the Cowboys, but dropping to the 20th overall pick is a long way to fall in the first round. Dallas would be missing out on some of the elite players in the draft by dropping that far. However, moving those 10 spots would likely net the Cowboys a 2022 first-rounder, plus another intriguing draft selection. The New England Patriots, who hold the 15th pick, could be another landing spot for the Cowboys.
Dallas is no stranger to first-round trades, they have dealt their first-round pick in four of their last 11 drafts. There is little doubt that Jerry and Stephen Jones are willing to make a deal if they think it’s best for the franchise.
Wide receiver Dez Bryant in 2010, cornerback Morris Claiborne in 2012, and center Travis Frederick in 2013 were all acquired following a trade, and current wideout Amari Cooper was added when the Cowboys gave up their 2019 top pick. The Cowboys could very well be on that path again in this year’s draft.
It’s getting interesting for the Dallas Cowboys as the draft approaches. Will the franchise stay put and draft an elite player at No. 10, or will they drop back and acquire more picks to accelerate the defensive rebuild?
The questions will soon have answers but the intrigue will never stop.
What kind of return would you be happy with if the Cowboys trade down from No. 10 overall in the NFL Draft? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.