Could Jerry Jones Trade Down Again in the NFL Draft?

Recently I looked at the possibility of Dallas trading up in the draft. Now a look at a trade down.

In the 2013 NFL draft, Jerry Jones traded down from 18 to take center Travis Frederick at 31. He swapped places with the S.F. 49ers and picked up an additional 3rd round pick in exchange. Last season Dallas came into the draft with only 6 picks so adding another pick was logical enough.

On one hand, Frederick was a starter every game in 2013 at center and played well for a rookie. Turned out to be a very good run blocker but still needs to improve pass blocking.

But at the combine Frederick ran the second slowest 40 time of all offensive linemen and benched only 21 reps, soft by NFL linemen standards. Compare that to current DT prospect Aaron Donald who benched 35 reps!

That’s why most experts had Frederick ranked as a 3rd round pick while no one, except Jerry, as a first round pick.

Jerry Missed Opportunity:
I’m playing a little Monday morning GM here, but the 49ers drafted safety Eric Reid (in the Cowboys spot) who made the Pro Bowl his rookie season with 4 interceptions. Later Jerry drafted safety JJ Wilcox in the third who couldn’t even secure a starting spot on a weak Cowboy pass defense that had no other option at safety than an undrafted rookie, Jeff Heath.

So in the humble opinion of this fan/blogger, it’s why GM Jerry Jones remains a 8-8 mediocre team for three consecutive seasons. In the 2013 draft, he could have gotten an all pro safety at 18 (Reid), then picked up his preferred center (Frederick) in either the 2nd or even 3rd round. That would have been more productive.

Nothing against drafting Frederick understand, but Jerry could have had his cake and ate it too, as the saying goes, and that’s what this draft business is all about.

Trade Down in 2014 draft?
With 11 picks already in their possession, accumulating additional picks in the draft should not be a priority for Dallas. However, in certain scenarios I can see Jerry trading down.

If the prospects Dallas wants most are off the board, then trading down for more value can make sense. Recently Dallas brought in DT prospects Aaron Donald and Timmy Jernigan but if those two go off the board prior to 16, (and they could) then I think Jerry could consider a trade down.

There will be teams interested in taking the Cowboys’ 16th spot as WR Mike Evans and TE Eric Ebron are prospects other teams would like to pick and may still be on the board at that point. However they don’t really satisfy a major need for Dallas.

Possible picks for Dallas late in the first round after a trade down:

1. DE, Kony Ealy: Drafting a DE must be a priority for Dallas to replace the departed Ware. Ealy represents a very athletic pass rusher with a lot of upside potential. Currently the 6-4, 273 lb. Ealy is the 3rd ranked DE in the draft and is expected to get drafted in the late first round. Drafting him at 16 feels like a reach but getting him late in the first while adding a 3rd round pick, feels much better.

2. DT, RaShede Hageman: Another position of need for Dallas will be DT but with Donald and Jernigan off the board prior to their pick at 16, Hageman represents a quality pick late in the first round. Hageman has very good size at 6-6, 310 lbs and is currently the 4th ranked DT in the draft. Hageman is very versatile on the defensive line and will help Dallas right away in both the 3 and 1 techniques.

Getting Hageman late in the first round while adding another pick later, could be a solid move in this scenario.

3. DE, Dee Ford: Ford was very impressive in the Senior Bowl and is clearly one of the best pure pass rushers in the draft. Many think he will fit best as a OLB in a 3-4 defense but by adding a little size, he could play DE in the 4-3 too. Ford has outstanding quickness to beat offensive tackles on the edge and would be a big contributor for the Cowboys pass rush. Because of his smaller weight, he figures to be more of a liability in run defense.

Overall, Ford would be a good late first round value.

Final Take:
Going into the draft with 11 picks, Dallas really doesn’t need to try to trade for additional picks. I actually think trading up makes more sense than trading down in this draft but if things aren’t going their way on draft night, then trading down my be a justifiable option. Drafting defensive linemen is the priority and in Ealy, Hageman, and Ford they can find value late in the first round.