Jerry trades down, down, down again

Posted Friday, Apr. 26, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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lebreton He did it again.

Confoundingly, but far from surprisingly, owner Jerry Jones again traded away the Dallas Cowboys’ first-round pick Thursday night, moving down, down, down to the No. 31 position, because ... because ...

Because he could, I guess. Because he’s Jerry Jones and he’s king of the Cowboys.

Because, I guess, he thinks this is the way a real NFL general manager does things. Wheelin’. Dealin’.

Thursday’s trade was the 60th on draft day that Jones has made since he bought the Cowboys in 1989.

That he traded the team’s pick at the No. 18 spot, therefore, was far from stunning. As Gil Brandt, who helped build the original Cowboys, reported on the SiriusXM NFL Radio Network, the team had four potential targets on its board, and by the middle of the first round all four were gone.

But to trade down 13 spots for San Francisco’s pick, the second-to-last one in the first round, and only get a mid-third-rounder in return seems a folly.

The 49ers used the 18th pick to select safety Eric Reid from LSU. A procession of similarly talented players followed — two more offensive linemen, two cornerbacks and three defensive linemen (Sharrif Floyd, Bjoern Werner and Sylvester Williams) who were roundly considered to be excellent fits for the talent-needy Cowboys.

Owner Jones, however, again had other things in mind. In the 20 drafts since Jones and Jimmy Johnson parted ways, the Cowboys have traded their first-round pick 15 times.

Some of the swaps have paid off. The trade last year that allowed them to move up in the draft order and select cornerback Mo Claiborne was widely applauded. A deal with the Patriots in 2010 allowed the Cowboys to draft receiver Dez Bryant.

But the practice of moving down in the first round is a delicate strategy. Dropping a handful of places in the draft order is risky enough. In Thursday night’s deal, are we supposed to believe that Jones could read the minds of the 12 teams that would pick before it was finally the Cowboys’ turn?

The trading-down strategy also flies in the face of basic NFL logic and intent. The teams with the worst records are supposed to get the higher picks. The best teams wait until the end of the first round.

It’s those low drafting positions that got the post-Johnson Cowboys in their current predicament in the first place. After Jimmy left, the franchise either traded away its No. 1 pick for a few seasons, hoping to find the next Emmitt Smith or Michael Irvin, or it rolled the dice on the likes of Shante Carver, David LaFleur and Ebenezer Ekuban.

Soon the Cowboys were drafting in the middle of the pack. And when you finish 8-8, as Thursday reminded, the Luke Joeckels, Barkevious Mingos and Chance Warmacks are always going to be long gone.

Why Owner Jones can’t find another collegian to get excited about remains a mystery.

The team’s eventual selection at No. 31, center Travis Frederick of Wisconsin, won’t move the Cowboys’ excitement needle much. A sampling of draft publications and mock drafts, for what it’s worth, seemed to project Frederick as a second- or third-round pick.

True, the Cowboys are not one player away from storming to Super Bowl XLVIII. As the head coach would say, it’s a process.

Finding impact players in the draft is supposed to be a part of that process.

But Owner Jones always seems to have other things in mind.

Because . . . because he can. Because he runs the Cowboys.

Runs them all the way to 8-8.

Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @gilebreton

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