The Dallas Cowboys pick 28th in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft. It’s a position that while you can find a value pick, it more than likely means you’re getting a fringe first-round talent. With the Cowboys being so close to a Super Bowl they must do the most logical thing with that pick.
Trade it. If you think the Cowboys are going to be passing on the next great player, well here’s the list of every 28th pick from 2013 to 1980. Go ahead, take a look. You’ll see two great players out of 33 a whopping 6% success clip: 1995 Derrick Brooks drafted by Tampa Bay and 1983 Darrell Green drafted by Washington.
Dallas had a phenomenal 2016 season. They put up one of the franchise’s best regular season record, have a young core that is a ready title contender, and have last year’s second round pick, Jaylon Smith, ready to come off of the injured reserve to fill that needed pass rusher hole they’re in. So why waste a roster spot on like what Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller is projecting in his Mock Draft, UCLA’s Defensive End, Takkarist McKinley?
Miller’s analysis on McKinley is correct that the biggest need for the Cowboys during the offseason is defensive end. However this should alarm Dallas fans when Miller says, “McKinley is dealing with shoulder injuries that may eventually require surgery. If he’s healthy, the tools are that of a top-20 player. The Cowboys have the stability to draft McKinley in Round 1 and allow him time to heal if surgery is required.”
This injury, and the potential that surgery may be needed, should be enough to scare the Cowboys brass away and let some other team deal with McKinley’s health. Being an edge rusher you need to use your arms to gain leverage to get past an offensive lineman. With him coming into training camp, already damaged, why should Dallas run this risk?
Plus, taking someone like McKinley in the first round means Dallas will have to spend first-round money on someone that may not even play. If they would move the pick to a team looking to jump back into the round it could save Dallas close to $3 million. Last year, the 28th pick’s total value of their contract was $9.3 million; while the 32nd pick made $6.6. Depending on where Dallas would swap their first, for a team’s second round pick, the savings could increase.
Then there is the whole being up against the salary cap issue. Currently, the Cowboys have $4.3 million in cap room. However, there is one key piece that is holding Dallas back from getting a lot of room to maneuver during free agency. That option would be cutting former starting quarterback Tony Romo after June 1.
Releasing Romo before the April draft would only give Dallas an extra $4 million in cap space. The same number would be given in cap relief if the Cowboys would trade him. However, letting him go post-June 1 explodes the salary cap for Dallas to a whopping $17 million in space.
Yes, NFL free agency does begin on March 7, which means Dallas wouldn’t have all of this extra cap space until that period is almost three months in. However, with enough time to let the high-priced first wave of players to move to their new teams it will allow Dallas to find the key veterans to fill vital roles; like former Dallas great DeMarcus Ware.
Dallas has a lot of options in front of them before the NFL Draft. However, letting an overeager team, like Cleveland, to jump back into the first round is their best move. Swap the pick for a high second round selection, make two quality picks who will sign lesser rookie contracts, and then let Romo go after June 1 is the best offseason and draft strategy for the Cowboys to get over the Divisional Round hump, and back into the Super Bowl.
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