The NFL Draft is just 10 days away and the smoke screens and trade rumors have been ratcheted up as we head towards the final week. At #16, the Cowboys are positioned to stay put and select a quality starter. They are also in a good place to trade down and pick up another solid pick in what has been called the deepest draft in 10 years. The wild card for all these trade scenarios would be Jerry Jones and the trade up.
By most accounts Cowboys Nation is more in favor of trading down and acquiring a few more picks. If Aaron Donald and Anthony Barr are already taken, and Johnny Manziel is on the board, then here’s where it gets interesting for fans. In out latest poll, drafting Manziel #16 leads the rest of the other scenarios we listed. A few percentage of fans would be inclined to trading up to get Donald regardless.
Jerry Jones is the biggest unknown during this process. We know the Cowboys have done their homework with all their pre-draft visits and there are a lot of prospects in that list that will be available towards the second half of the first round, so this would suggest the Cowboys are ready to make a trade down. However, what if Jerry wants to move up for Aaron Donald, or what if he wants to assure himself that he gets Manziel? How much would the Cowboys need to give up to play ball?
For me, trading up for Donald would be the cheaper route, because you pretty much know Donald will not be the top pick in the draft.
So let’s start with Donald.
The Cowboys #16 pick is worth 1000 points. I believe the Cowboys may have to trade up with the Raiders at #5 to have a legitimate and near guaranteed shot at getting Donald.
The Raiders could be the first team eying Donald, and after that, Atlanta is in play. Mike Smith said the Falcons are staying in the 4-3 and not moving to the 3-4; so Donald could be the fit there, it could also be the reason the Falcons are looking closely at Clowney as well. They may trade up themselves. After Atlanta, there are a whole slew of teams that could be a fit for Donald: Vikings; Lions; Titans; Giants; Rams; and the Bears at #14.
Let’s just say Jerry gets anxious and wants to make certain that Donald will be the Cowboys new face of the defense, and he trades up with the Raiders.
The Raiders #5 pick is worth 1700 points. So the Cowboys need at least 700 points to make up the difference. The Cowboys would need to get creative here, and I’m not sure they’d like to give next year’s 1st rounder for a defensive tackle. I don’t know if the Cowboys would give up their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd rounder to get close enough to make the pick. But what if you throw in our 1st, next year’s 2nd and Morris Claiborne? Yes, I’m looking at moving Claiborne and I think the Cowboys are seriously using Claiborne for some draft ammo. To me Claiborne is the most suitable player that we could package during draft day. Let’s say the Cowboys don’t move all the way up to the Raiders for Donald, but they still want to move up if they see Donald falling closer to them, the Cowboys could still have Claiborne in their back pocket to help get us closer to a true impact player on defense. Claiborne has not been the impact player we thought he would be and there hasn’t been evidence to suggest otherwise. Claiborne should be able to pull a 3rd round equivalent for us, so package him and assure the pick you want and not give up the house.
The one thing about Jerry I keep coming back to is his affinity to finding the next replacement for a franchise player. I wrote about Jerry and how there have been certain times under his ownership where he “feels” he needs to make a block buster trade. Whether it be the blockbuster trade to find Michael Irvin’s successor, or Terrell Owen’s replacement, the evidence is there. Now in 2014, Jerry may feel absolutely compelled in finding the next face of the defense, so watch out. Something crazy could happen come draft day.
Now, to the scariest scenario for Cowboys Nation: Jerry Jones trading for the #1 pick overall.
The Texans #1 pick is worth 3000 points. The Cowboys would need 2000 more points to get there and that’s a gargantuan number to swallow. The Cowboys would likely be giving the Texans way more than the Redskins gave the Rams for the #1 in 2010. In 2012, the Redskins were slated to draft #6 overall and the Rams #2 overall. For just four spots the Redskins gave the Rams their sixth pick and a second-round choice for RG3, plus first-round selections in 2013 and 2014. So basically (3) first round picks when its all said and done.
Jerry would have to mortgage the future of the Dallas Cowboys for years and he’s done it before, so let’s not discount that Jerry would not pull off a huge trade for the #1 overall. It’s possible the Cowboys could go for the #2 overall with the Rams already owning two first round picks. Either way you cut it, if Jerry wants to position the Cowboys into the top 5, he’ll be giving away a ton of picks and a ton of future talent. But let’s just play devils advocate and go along with some draft rumors about Johnny Manziel.
If Jerry wants Manziel he’ll get him and there are others that are thinking its possible and other are hearing Jerry is gushing over Manziel. You have to wonder how much the re-signing of Anthony Spencer will effect draft day. Surely, the Cowboys don’t see Spencer as the answer of shoring up the defense? Couple Spencer returning and questions about Kyle Orton retiring, and you have yourself some doubts about what the Cowboys will do in this year’s draft.
Peter King: “I absolutely buy Dallas’ interest in Manziel. One: He is Jerry Jones’s kind of guy, and I believe Jones all along has had half an eye on Manziel, particularly if he could get him at a bargain position—say, the middle of the second round. I don’t believe Manziel will make it out of the first round, of course, but Jones could be sorely tempted at No. 16 overall if Manziel were there. Two: Tony Romo turned 34 last Monday, and his back is balky and twice surgically repaired, and Troy Aikman has been sounding the clarion call about the dangers of fooling with a bad back.” (MMQB)
Jim Nantz: “I can say this, he’s going to be the guy everyone wants to see. I’ve heard this rumor for a month — the Cowboys will figure out a way to get Manziel. Wherever Manziel goes, there is going to be more clamoring about Johnny Manziel than there would be about Blake Bortles going No. 1 or (Jadeveon) Clowney going No. 1, or anyone else. This is a guy that there’s just a tremendous interest in everything he does.”
There would be two reasons Jerry would use a high pick and go all-in for Johnny Manziel: One, he would be Romo’s clear successor and two, he would bring excitement to the fan base. In particular, the TV ratings for the Cowboys would skyrocket. The intrigue, the big stage with one of Colleges most exciting players in recent years – its a match made for Jerry Jones.
Jerry is all about giving people what they want to see and creating excitement: We have not gone, yet we’re the most popular TV show there is on television. We lead all teams in TV ratings. We lead, 24 of the last top 25 shows were NFL games, and any time your Cowboys play they’re up there at the top and leading. Now, what causes that? What causes that is creating some aura, creating some excitement. (DMN)
You have to wonder if Jerry goes after Manziel, would Kevin Sumlin be the next coach should the Cowboys miss the playoffs yet again in week 17 to top it off. Jason Garrett has yet to be offered an extension and he probably won’t see one until we clinch a playoff birth.
The stage is set for Jerry to make a block buster trade and it could come down to two players: Aaron Donald or Johnny Manziel. The Cowboys need to find Ware’s replacement on defense and they need to start looking for Romo’s replacement as well.