Six Intriguing Draft Day “What Ifs?”

Aaron Donald

With four days and counting, die hard Dallas Cowboys fans are anxiously awaiting what this year’s draft strategy will bring. The Cowboys are looking to fix the defensive line, its been said that rebuilding the defensive line would take two years, but for Garrett, its time to make the playoffs or bust. Look for the Cowboys to go heavy on defense in this draft.

I got together with longtime friend and fellow writer, Jesse Haynie from We did a Q/A before the NFL Combine and now with all the numbers and pro day visits, we will be looking at six, what if scenarios. I picked Jesse’s brain with three scenarios and he shot over three for me to answer.

Here we go:

1. CowboysBlog: What if the Cowboys the traded up with the Vikings at #8 and gave up their 2nd round pick to draft Aaron Donald? Would you be ok with that move?

Jesse: I have to say no. You already have your three-technique DT here in Henry Melton, hopefully. Dallas has too many areas of need to overload at any position and especially if it costs them two draft picks. I have DT ranked third right now behind a pass-rushing DE and safety on my list of position needs. I know counting on Melton is a risk, but I think you need to give it a year before you draft his replacement. He’s only 27, after all. If he works out, then you’re getting another 3-4 years out of a Pro Bowl talent.

2. CowboysBlog: What if the Cowboys drafted a QB in the 2nd or 3rd round? Do you think that move would be to address the future at QB? What QB would you take in the 2nd or 3rd round?

Jesse: I don’t think there’s any question that a QB drafted on Friday will be considered the heir apparent to Tony Romo. As for who they could take, the first guy to look at is Teddy Bridgewater. His stock is plummeting right now and there’s a real chance he could be there in the middle of the second round. However, I always ask why a guy’s red flags that hurt his top tier chances aren’t still relevant in later rounds? Those concerns are still there no matter what round you take him in, and I’m not high on Bridgewater at all. I like Tom Savage but I could see his upside going no more than a Matt Schaub-level player, and I don’t know if that’s worth a second-round pick. I’m of the mind that you wait one more year to draft high, hoping that next year’s class has some better talent. If I’m drafting any QB this year, it’s Aaron Murray with a 4th-round pick or lower as an experiment.

3.CowboysBlog: What if the Cowboys draft a CB in the first round? Do you think that selection would upset Cowboys Nation, and what do you think it would mean about Morris Claiborne?

Jesse: I think plenty of fans would lash out about the pick given what’s already invested in the position. However, I think the only way it happens is if another move comes behind it with Claiborne being traded. The Cowboys can’t cut Brandon Carr right now as they gain nothing on the cap and Orlando Scandrick is currently the best corner for Rod Marinelli’s scheme. I proposed the idea a month ago that Dallas should call up the Detroit Lions and see if they’d be willing to trade Nick Fairley for Claiborne. They’re both young, highly-drafted players who’ve had rough starts with their respective teams. If Dallas is considering a move like that, I have no problem with taking a corner in the first round. There’s a good chance, based on current mocks, that the Best Player Available at #16 just might be a cornerback.

4. Jesse: What if Dallas cannot get a pass-rushing DE with their first-round pick? How will the defense be able to pressure the quarterback next season?

CowboysBlog: Outside of Jadaveon Clowney and Anthony Barr, the top flight pass rushing ends is a weak class, but there will be some guys available in the 2nd-4th rounds that can come in and contribute right away. The Cowboys are going to throw numbers at the pass rush this year, and it also works into what Marinelli wants to do; which is, he wants fresh legs and constant pressure on every down. He should get his wish with this draft class. The Cowboys brought in a lot of play making pass rushers that will be targeted outside the first round. Kareem Martin, Will Clarke, Scott Crichton, Larry Webster are players the Cowboys met with and its very likely one or two of them with don the star. I’d expect the Cowboys to also get after the QB from the middle of the line, from the 3-tech position. Henry Melton replaces Jason Hatcher and will be an upgrade at the spot, but I see the Cowboys adding another 3-tech pass rusher like Will Sutton, Caraun Reid, Ken Bishop or Dominique Easley if you think both he knees will hold up.

5. Jesse: What if Calvin Pryor and Hasean Clinton-Dix are both gone? Is there another safety who you think is worthy of the 1st-round pick?

CowboysBlog: It’ll be interesting to see where these two players land. I’ve seen mocks where they go mid parts of the 1st round and I’ve seen a few where one or the other falls out of the 1st round, but let’s say both are gone. There are two safeties to keep an eye towards the bottom of the 1st round and they are: Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois; and, Deone Bucannon, Washington State. Both of these guys are have speed and range, so they could be versatile enough to be a free safety. However, both are more than able to play closer to the box and support in the run defense when needed. For the Cowboys, I would watch out for Ward at the end of the 1st round or in the 2nd round if he lasts that long. He met with the Cowboys, so the interest is definitely there.

6. Jesse: What if Blake Bortles or Johnny Manziel fall in Dallas’ range? Is either of them the right guy to make the big move now?

CowboysBlog: This is the first year in which many fans have been open to drafting a QB in the first round and it’ll be a crazy scene in every Cowboys fan’s living room if the Cowboys draft a QB at #16. From all the QBs coming out this year, I happen to like Bortles and Manziel very much. They both have swagger and killer instinct to go for the win. Bortles was impressive this year and in particular his clutch game play in the Fiesta Bowl against Baylor. If you want to find a Aikman type player, then Bortles would be the pick. And then you have Manziel, another Romo type player. He keeps plays alive and makes the big plays. We’ve heard that the Jones’ are enamored with Manziel, and I think there is truth to the stories. Manziel had a huge bowl game in AT&T Stadium in 2013, in which he destroyed the Sooners and then he followed it up with another solid season. If either of these guys are available come our pick, then the Cowboys will have to consider the pick. Honestly, I think they would go ahead and draft the QB. We can still get to the QB with a variety of defensive picks in the other rounds and that’s what is going to make this draft so exciting this year – its deep.

We are days away from every die hard Cowboy fan favorite day – Draft Day. Let’s hope the Cowboys make the right moves and get us into the playoffs.

Special Thanks to Jesse Haynie from for participating in these what if scenarios. You can follow Haynie on Twitter here: @CBA_Haynie

CowboysBlog.Net has been online since August 23, 2003 and I've enjoyed every bit of my experience with the site. Our site was recognized in Sports Illustrated NFL Preview Edition on Sept. 4, 2006. Texas, USA. Enjoy the content. Join the conversation! Go Cowboys!

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