With the 2013 NFL draft just more than two weeks away, speculation is rampant regarding the Dallas Cowboys and how exactly America's Team pulls away from back-to-back seasons of .500 football. The best-case scenario for the Cowboys is to land at least two starters in the annual selection meeting which begins April 25—and three or four starters or contributors would be ideal.
Easier said than done, right?
In my previous mocks I have speculated that the Cowboys will trade down in order to get extra picks in the middle rounds. Following last year's loss of a second-round pick in moving up for cornerback Morris Claiborne, Dallas needs football players, and as many as they can get. Remember that this draft isn't exactly loaded with the typical diet of highly regarded quarterbacks, pass-rushers and other skill position prospects.
Still, the coming draft is believed to be deep with respect to players in the trenches—music to the ears of Dallas fans.
The Cowboys could trade down, stay with the scheduled 18th selection—or trade up.
With owner and general manager Jerry Jones, anything is possible and never was this more true than a year ago.
In briefly scrolling over mock drafts from a year ago, I couldn't find a single one that predicted that Claiborne would end up in Dallas. He was thought to go too high for the Cowboys reach—but then Jones reached and the rest is history.
So, could Dallas actually trade up again?
My reasoning is this: A number of teams currently in the top 10 of the first round realize that in this draft it might be more wise to trade down for more picks. This could be better for a bad team that probably wants more players as opposed to one decent one.
For example, Kansas City, with the first overall pick, is actively shopping that selection based on the fact there is really not a player worthy of that pick, especially with no quarterback or immediate impact pass-rusher sitting there.
The Chiefs are not the only franchise in the top 10 likely considering this option.
For Dallas to move up, I believe that outside linebacker Anthony Spencer could be a part of a package that allows Jones to land an immediate starter while not losing additional picks, at least not in this year's draft. This is the kind of thing he might do and it might not be the wrong call.
Who plays defensive end if Spencer's playing elsewhere in 2013?
I can't answer that for sure but it seems that nobody remembers the presence of second-year veteran Tyrone Crawford out of Boise State. Coming from a 4-3 program and drafted in the third round of the 2012 draft, it's time for him to play football—and he's perfectly built to play defensive end at 6'4'' and 285 pounds, although he might be better suited dropping about 10 pounds or so.
So, let's see how this scenario could play out—and in this mock draft the Cowboys will not actually gain a seventh pick via trading down. Dallas will have only six and these have to count early and often.
Remember that this is not a prediction of what will happen but rather a prediction of what could happen, especially given Jones' recent history as GM. Dallas has traded up in the first round twice in the previous three NFL drafts and,while it may not seem likely for this to happen for a second straight year, anything can happen when Jones is in the war room.
All combine results courtesy of NFL.com