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Mailbag: A Trade-Down Draft Scenario?

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Peter King says it's conceivable that the first eight players drafted could be offensive players, and if you want a cornerback, you better get one in the first two rounds. With that in mind, I'm wondering if the best strategy might be to trade down a few spots in the first round, picking up another second-rounder. This would allow the Cowboys to grab a stud offensive tackle in the first and still draft two cornerbacks in the second before shifting to other defensive needs. Thoughts? — BRIAN STUCKA / SANTA CLARITA, CA

Nick: I like the strategy, even if they don't get the two positions you just mentioned. I'm not opposed to that scenario, I just feel like being at No. 10 this year is somewhat in the middle – a little late for the difference-makers and probably a little early for a handful of guys. So if you can find a trade partner around No. 15-16 range and get a second-round pick, I'd be all for that. I think a cornerback like Horn from South Carolina would be a good fit there or maybe the pass-rusher from Miami, or even the TCU safety. This year especially, I think it'd be the year to trade back. And if one of those QBs is still there at No. 10, it'd be even easier to make that trade.

Rob: If the first eight players selected play offense, that means the Cowboys would have a great chance to take the best defensive player in the draft. That might be my strategy in this hypothetical. I know I keep saying this, but I'm focusing on defense unless the best prospect left on my board, far and away, is an offensive tackle. It would have to be a CeeDee-type scenario for me. Tyron Smith and La'el Collins are doing well in their injury rehab, and remember, the Cowboys have two starting guards who can play tackle in a pinch.

Could the Cowboys have given the franchise tag to another player within the organization before Tuesday's deadline? — SHANE WARD / LONG BEACH, CA

Nick: Well, clearly the Cowboys wanted to make sure they had the franchise tag available for Dak. In fact, they ended up giving it to him anyways on Tuesday to cover themselves. But had they gotten a deal locked up long before this deadline ... I still don't know if there's anyone that is deserving of this tag. Don't forget, it's just not a way to protect yourself from losing a player. You have to pay him like a "franchise" player and the average of the top five salaries at that position. You can't just throw it around on someone because you don't want them to go anywhere. When I look at the free agents to be, guys like Chido, Jourdan Lewis and Aldon Smith, I can't think of anyone of them that warrants that kind of contract. So no, I don't see that happening, and it wasn't even possible as it turned out.

Rob: As tight as the cap is this year, no, I don't think the Cowboys would have budgeted a large one-year salary for another free agent on the roster. Dak would have been the exception, even at almost $38 million, had both sides not agreed to terms on the four-year deal, obviously. And as Nick said, giving him the tag yesterday was simply a procedural, temporary move until the new contract is official.

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