Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has never been one to sit tight in the NFL draft. Jones has executed 59 draft-day trades since he bought the team in 1989, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and has only stood pat in Round 1 on six occasions.
That's why it should surprise nobody to hear the always-candid Jones admit that trading down in Thursday night's first round is a distinct possibility.
"There's enough depth in this draft that you sure want to keep your ears open for trades," Jones said, "because you very well could get as good or a better player at another level. And I will, and we will, have our minds open."
"Not to just be arm-waving, but there's a lot of depth there, so that would lend itself to trades," Jones said. "Can you get enamored as a team with a specific player? Of course, you can. And so, that may mean it's worth some picks to (trade up) and get him. (But) I'm inclined to trading down, and that's probably more likely to (happen than trading) up."
The Cowboys, you'll surely recall, traded up in last year's opening round in order to grab Morris Claiborne. And three years ago, they moved up a few spots to take Dez Bryant. But those scenarios were different.
If Warmack, Cooper, Johnson, Richardson and Vaccaro are gone, what should the Cowboys do?
This year, as Jones points out, the draft is deep, but far from top-heavy. That's why if the Cowboys' key targets aren't available when they're on the clock with the No. 18 pick, a trade would make a lot of sense.
But there's also a chance Dallas is in the perfect spot. The way I see it, there are about 15-20 top prospects in this year's draft. None stand out in a substantial way. That's why so many teams in the top half of Round 1 seem eager to jump down. If that's the case, teams picking in the middle of the first round could be golden.
Now, the rub is that if the Cowboys get unlucky and Chance Warmack, Jonathan Cooper, Lane Johnson, Sheldon Richardson and Kenny Vaccaro are all off the board when it's time for them to pick, they could have trouble finding a suitor. If the pick loses value to them, it likely loses value to a lot of potential trade partners, too. A lot of teams have similar needs and inevitably will have common first-round targets.
Jones could be playing the smokescreen game and BSing us anyway, but the reality is that nobody, Jones included, knows what's going to go down on Thursday night. It's obvious that there's a higher likelihood of a trade down than a trade up—especially when you consider that the 'Boys only have six picks to work with in this draft—but the situation is fluid. It has to be.