Cowboys Could Trade Up In Draft, But How?

California Golden Bears quarterback Jared Goff. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
California Golden Bears quarterback Jared Goff. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports /

The Dallas Cowboys could trade their way up to the No.1 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft next April in Chicago, but how might they pull off such a leap?

One consolation for a 4-12 NFL regular season is the fact that you can probably bet on a top-5 selection in the following NFL draft. Such is the case for the Dallas Cowboys, owners of the fourth-overall selection – for right now anyway.

When it comes to drafts run by Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones, it’s anybody’s guess as to where Dallas will actually chooses players, regardless of its predetermined picks laid out months in advance.

In recent years, Cowboys Nation has seen all methodologies.

In 2010 and 2012, the Cowboys traded up for wide receiver Dez Bryant and cornerback Morris Claiborne, in that order. One worked out well, the other one not so much.

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In 2013, Dallas actually traded down before selecting center Travis Frederick, another move that panned out perhaps better than expected.

Over the last two offseasons, the Cowboys were content to select two more solid players without moving anywhere in the first round. Pro Bowl guard Zack Martin was selected in 2014 while defensive back Byron Jones was chosen in 2015.

So long as you’re getting good players, all draft strategies will be successful.

That being said, ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper has suggested this week that the Cowboys could be in the market to trade up from the fourth pick all the way to the top of the draft. Kiper’s rationale that the Tennessee Titans, owners of the first-overall selection, would be interested in a package to move down a few spots is spot on. However, I fail to see how interested the Titans would be in selecting a cornerback in the fourth spot.

As far as the Cowboys are concerned, it would seem unlikely that Dallas would even ponder moving up in the draft for anything other than a future franchise quarterback, namely California junior Jared Goff. As the Titans selected 2015 Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota in last year’s player selection meeting, there’s obviously no danger of Tennessee’s new front office taking another quarterback.

Before seriously considering the likelihood that Jones would trade up those three spots to the very top, we first have to consider what exactly that would cost the Cowboys.

According to the unofficial NFL draft chart, the first-overall selection is worth 3,000 points.

The fourth-overall pick is worth 1,800 points, which in a straight up trade would leave the Cowboys with a substantial 1,200-point differential to deal with.

Now, nothing says that the Titans, if seriously interested in trading down, would command all 3,000 points, at least not in draft picks. In using only picks, it would take most of Dallas’ remaining selections to make up the difference, and I don’t see Jones forking over all of his premium picks for a quarterback who might not play for anywhere from one to three seasons as the Cowboys’ starting quarterback – and it could be even longer.

It’s also hard to determine what Tennessee’s plan would be with respect to certain positions and/or players that head coach Mike Mularkey and general manager Jon Robinson might have a crush on – there’s a better chance than not that even they don’t even know at this point.

Let’s remember that neither the 2016 Senior Bowl or Super Bowl 50 has been played yet. There’s so much to come regarding the pre-draft process that it’s impossible to have any clue as to who’s going to do what come the 2016 NFL Draft in late April.

Next: Dallas Cowboys: A Case For Defense In First Round

If the Cowboys arm up on defensive talent via free agency coming up in March, then it might be more plausible to imagine the Cowboys trading up for a franchise quarterback, but given the coming experiences with quarterback prospects like Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott and Jacoby Brissett at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, it’s just not likely that Dallas commits heavy resources to trade up for any player in the coming draft.