Dallas Cowboys

Why Amari Cooper was a home run top pick for Cowboys despite the NFC East draft haul

Cowboys miss not having No. 1 pick but have no regrets about trading for Amari Cooper

Cowboys miss not having No. 1 pick but have no regrets about trading for Amari Cooper
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Cowboys miss not having No. 1 pick but have no regrets about trading for Amari Cooper
The Dallas Cowboys sat idle on the first day of the 2019 NFL Draft.

They watched the teams across NFC East make moves to get better with six total picks while the Cowboys had none.

The New York Giants and Washington Redskins drafted a quarterback for the future in Daniel Jones and Dwayne Haskins at 6 and 15, respectively. The Eagles drafted a future anchor at left tackle in Andre Dillard.

The Redskins arguably got the steal of the first round with linebacker/edge rusher Montez Sweat at 26. The Giants had a total of three picks, also getting defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence and cornerback DeAndre Baker.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys had nothing in the first round because they gave their pick, 27th overall, to the Oakland Raiders for receiver Amari Cooper in a 2018 mid-season trade.

Ironically, the Raiders used that pick to take safety Jonathan Abram a player the Cowboys coveted for their second-round pick, 58th overall.

And yet it’s easy to say that the Cowboys emerged from the first day as one of the big winners of the first round.

The Cowboys already have their prize in Cooper. They don’t have to wait for him to develop. They know what he is right now. He is a Pro Bowl receiver. He is a game-breaker. He is an impact player.

He showed that in the final nine games last year when he rescued quarterback Dak Prescott and a punch-less pass offense with 53 catches for 725 yards and six touchdowns following the trade while sparking a 7-2 mark, leading the Cowboys to the NFC East title and a playoff win.

It goes without saying that if the Cowboys didn’t get Cooper, they would have targeted a receiver in the first round. They projected before the trade there would not be a receiver in the draft who had the skills and potential of Cooper.

That played out to perfection on Thursday. Only two receivers went in the first round, Marquise Brown at 25 to the Baltimore Ravens and N’Keal Harry at 32 to the New England Patriots.

That’s a big win for the Cowboys.

And even though the Cowboys are targeting a safety at 58 and the Raiders took one of their options at 27, there are no tears. Abram will be a solid pro. The Cowboys would rather have Cooper.

And regarding what transpired across the NFC East, the Giants remain the worst team in the division, despite their three-pick haul. Jones is a risky project at quarterback. Lawrence did not live up to the potential in college and Baker is solid but unspectacular at cornerback.

Dillard is a future left tackle option for the Eagles. His first-year impact will likely be minimal.

The Redskins did the most to improve their team immediately. The Redskins have already added linebacker Reuben Foster and safety Landon Collins in free agency. Now they have an athletic freak in Sweat.

But the Redskins still need help on offense. And while Haskins is a future franchise quarterback he is unlikely to have a major impact as a rookie, given that he had only one season as a starter in college.

The Cowboys sat idle, watched Cooper highlights, knowing they already hit a home run in the first round.

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Clarence E. Hill Jr. has covered the Dallas Cowboys as a beat writer/columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 1997. That includes just two playoff wins, six coaches and countless controversies from the demise of the dynasty teams of the 1990s through the rollercoaster years of the Tony Romo era until Jason Garrett’s process Cowboys.