Dallas Cowboys: Why picking a first-round safety is a mistake

Drafting a safety in the first round will be a mistake. The Dallas Cowboys need to trade down to afford their top-heavy roster.

The Dallas Cowboys’ front office and coaching staff are in Indianapolis this week for the annual scouting combine. Most mock drafts are forecasting the Cowboys will use the 17th pick in the first round on a safety whether it be Grant Delpit from LSU or Xavier McKinney from Alabama. There was even a mock draft that was anticipating wide receiver as a need position with CeeDee Lamb from Oklahoma as the Cowboys’ pick.

It will be a mistake for Dallas to select any of the players being mocked to the Cowboys in the first round. The Cowboys need to trade back in the draft and acquire as many picks as they can.

In April 2019, the Seattle Seahawks signed their starting quarterback, Russell Wilson, to a four-year contract extension that averages $35 million a year – the highest average per year contract in the history of the NFL. In July 2019, the Seahawks signed linebacker Bobby Wagner to a three-year $54 million contract.  The two players counted more than 21 percent of the 2019 salary cap.

These two contracts are making the Seahawks roster top heavy. Six Seahawks account for 43 percent of the 2020 salary cap.

With a top-heavy roster, the bottom needs to be filled by quality players on cheap rookie deals. The easiest way to find these players is to draft them.

The Seahawks entered the 2019 draft with only five draft picks. They had their original first, fourth and fifth round picks and acquired a first and third round pick from Kansas City for Frank Clark. At the end of the draft, Seattle had chosen eleven players.

In Peter King’s Football Morning in America column, he highlighted how the Seahawks converted the 21st pick in the draft into picks 47, 64, 120, 132, 142 and 204. This netted Seattle two second-round picks, two fourth-round picks, one fifth-round pick and one sixth-round pick.

The Cowboys are at risk of doing the same this offseason by signing quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper. The Cowboys will likely have nine players consuming more than 60 percent of the cap in 2020.

That leaves a lot of holes on the roster without the resources to plug them. This is why the Cowboys need to employ Seattle’s draft strategy to bolster their roster.

Interesting, the Cowboys invented this strategy in the mid 1990s. When the salary cap came into play, the Cowboys were loaded with young players who were needing their next deals.

With money tied up in the triplets, there wasn’t even enough cash to sign their first round pick. So in 1995 and 1996, the Cowboys traded their first round picks for multiple second and third round picks in order to stay under the cap.

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If Dallas is intent on paying Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper, they will need to find a way to acquire quality players on cheap contracts to fill out the 53 man roster. So Cowboys Nation, put your dreams for a difference making safety in the first round to bed, the Cowboys need to trade down and trade down often.