NFL Draft: Why the Dallas Cowboys Will Trade Up or Down in First Round

Christian BloodContributor IIIJanuary 24, 2013

Jason Garrett and Jerry Jones in war room.
Jason Garrett and Jerry Jones in war room.

Each year the NFL draft is like a “white sale” at a department store for owner and general manager Jerry Jones. You ever seen shoppers just sit in the parking lot and stare into the window only during a sale like this?

Of course not.

Shoppers go inside as soon as possible, trampling others if necessary, to get that shiny thing in the window.

Jones is the same. He has a few months to really get his eye on a given player and then it’s all over. Also resembling one of those unconscionable shoppers, Jones will even pay a whole lot more for that shiny thing if he’s allowed—and he’s always allowed on his income.

This is why you often see the Cowboys moving around on draft day trying to get what they just have to have before the crumbs of the “meager” third round are left.

Like usual, Dallas will probably be on the move in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft just as it was in 2012 and in 2010.

The main reason for this will be the quarterback position.

Yes, this year’s draft doesn’t offer an Andrew Luck that appears NFL ready. There’s no RGIII either.

But there are quarterbacks, and just like every other year about a quarter of the teams in the league are heading into the offseason not knowing how they wish to proceed at quarterback. They might have thought they were fine coming into the season, but things change—and guys retire too.

With the 18th selection in the first round, the Cowboys have at least nine teams sitting in front of them that could choose a quarterback in the first round. Where they choose this passer is the question much more so than if they’ll take a quarterback at all.

Of the first 10 teams choosing next April, only Detroit seems poised to choose another position, no matter what. Philadelphia, with a new regime coming in, may not care for Nick Foles too much and so the Eagles could be a team that wants to start planning for a long-term future.

But all the other teams in the top 10 have to be thinking quarterback at some point.

Basically, as quarterbacks are chosen before the 18th pick, other players the Cowboys will have targeted will slide, and this is where Jones’ antenna is more receptive than ever.

Jones will be enticed to trade up because most of the teams in position to grab a quarterback likely won’t want to choose him there, meaning they’ll be interested in calling Jones to see if they can drop several slots in order to probably get the guy they want and add an extra pick or so.

Jones is very active in moving the Cowboys in position to grab the resources he thinks the team needs. Again, the resources he thinks the team needs. This is not to say that he formulates his opinion all by himself, which he doesn’t by all accounts. But he will take chances and historically this hasn’t gone very well.

But Jones may not sacrifice an additional draft pick to move into the top 10 the way he did a year ago when he traded up for cornerback Morris Claiborne.

Jones could very well trade down in the first round and he might be wise to do so.

See, most of those quarterback-needy teams above Dallas in the first round will not get the deal they want to move down. They’ll either take the quarterback or they’ll choose the best player available if they stay put.

But then comes the second round.

As stated before, there are quarterbacks in this draft even if there is not a clear-cut, NFL ready passer sitting there waiting to be chosen first overall. Some drafts are stronger than others.

But since it’s hard to see Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs taking Geno Smith out of West Virginia to begin the draft, I do see Reid possibly making a move to jump back into the first round from the second.

Well, he’s going to need a trading partner.

Scenarios like this will happen and it’s possible to see the Cowboys moving up or down this time around.

Either decision could be the right one so long as the right player is chosen, especially if a pick is lost.

Also remember that Jones has receiver Miles Austin and offensive tackle Doug Free playing on ridiculous contracts that could also create trade possibilities.

It may be an uncomfortable offseason at Valley Ranch, but this should be tempered with the fact that Dallas is going to have its choice of a really good football player, provided their scouting department is on task.

When you factor in that this draft is thinner at skill positions than it is in the trenches, this increases the likelihood that the Cowboys should have plenty of options for the kind of player they need immediately.