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Looking Back At Cowboys’ Flurry Of First-Round Activity

Posted Apr 14, 2014

IRVING, Texas – Mock drafts might want to skip Dallas at 16, if history’s any indication.

Six of the past seven years, the Cowboys traded the first-round pick they were slotted for based on their record the previous season. 

Most recently, the Cowboys traded from No. 18 to No. 31 in the first round in 2013 and picked up a third-round pick from San Francisco to select center Travis Frederick and wide receiver Terrance Williams, respectively, while the 49ers used their pick at No. 18 on safety Eric Reid.

It marked one of many first-round trades around the NFL in 2013, and it was a decision that appears to have paid off for both teams, though only time will tell.

The choice to trade down occurred one year after trading with the Rams to move up from No. 14 to No. 6 and grab cornerback Morris Claiborne. The Cowboys forfeited their second-round pick in the process – a pick the Bears then traded up for to grab wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. The Rams took defensive tackle Michael Brockers with the No. 14 pick.

The 2011 NFL Draft marked the only time since 2007 the Cowboys stayed put and used the pick they were scheduled to have based on their record. They took Tyron Smith with the No. 9 pick overall and found their future star left tackle and would follow that pick up with Bruce Carter and DeMarco Murray.

Each of the four drafts prior to the Smith pick, the Cowboys made moves either up, back or out entirely.

Dallas lacked a first-round selection in 2009 after trading its No. 20 overall pick as well as a third-round pick and a sixth-round pick for wide receiver Roy Williams and a seventh-round pick. The Lions used that first-round pick on tight end Brandon Pettigrew. The Cowboys also traded their only second-round pick that year to Buffalo for third and fourth round choices.

That 2009 draft will go down as one of the Cowboys’ least successful in recent memory. None of the Cowboys’ 12 picks that season are still with the team, and most of them are no longer in the league.

The Cowboys ensured they wouldn’t wait around on talent a year later in 2010, trading their first-round pick at No. 27 and a third-round pick to move up for the Patriots’ first-round pick at No. 24 and a fourth-round pick. Dallas selected Dez Bryant at No. 24, while New England selected cornerback Devin McCourty at No. 27. The Cowboys also moved up a round later and traded their second and fourth round choices to the NFC East-rival Eagles to grab Sean Lee.

Both trade-ups in the 2009 scenario worked out for Dallas. The first-round trades in 2007 and 2008 were a bit more confusing to follow.

In 2007, the Cowboys traded their No. 22 overall pick to the Browns (who selected Brady Quinn), to grab the No. 36 overall pick and a 2008-first rounder. The Cowboys then traded that No. 36 pick to the Eagles, who landed Kevin Kolb with the selection, along with a third-round pick and a fifth-round pick to move back in the first round and select Anthony Spencer. There were a lot of moving parts, but in the end the Cowboys netted a Pro Bowl defensive end.

Their 2007 trade with Cleveland allowed the Cowboys to select Felix Jones in the first round at No. 22 overall in 2008. The Cowboys also moved up that year from No. 28 overall to No. 25 overall in a trade with Seattle that brought cornerback Mike Jenkins to Dallas. The Cowboys also dealt fifth and seventh round picks in the process.

The only year the Cowboys stayed put resulted in success in 2011. The Cowboys experienced varied successes and failures by moving up and down the last seven years, going to show there’s not always a black and white answer for the best decision from draft to draft.

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