Just CHILL: Draft strategy/trade remains puzzling even to Cowboys' scouts

Clarence Hill

Almost a week later, the decisions the Cowboys made in the first round of the NFL Draft remains puzzling, even troubling, to those inside and outside the Cowboys organization.

It still is a sore subject among scouts, according to a source.

Call them mess ups 1 and 1A.

The decision to bypass Florida defensive tackle Shariff Floyd, who was ranked as a top-10 pick on the Cowboys draft board was first.

“We are not disappointed in what we drafted at 31, more disappointed in who we passed up at 18," the source said.

It has been well chronicled that owner Jerry Jones made the call to pass on Floyd and trade down in the draft, because Floyd wasn't deemed a good fit for the "under" tackle in the 4-3 defense by the coaches.

Jones was focused on addressing the offensive line or safety in the first round, according to a source. The main targets for those positions -- offensive guards Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper and Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro _ were gone before the 18th pick.

They didn't expect Floyd to be there, so there was a long discussion on Floyd. Jones sided with the coaches.

"Jerry wanted to address the offensive line or safety in the first round; no other options were viable," the source said. "When it was said that [Floyd] was not a fit, that's all he needed to hear."

Jones made the call to make a trade to move down in the draft, where the Cowboys were targeting Syracuse guard Justin Pugh with the 31st pick they got from the 49ers.

They assumed/hoped he would be there, but the Giants drafted him 19th.

The Cowboys then took Wisconsin center Travis Frederick, who they deemed to be the last offensive lineman worthy of the pick and capable of helping them this year. Never mind that other teams had Frederick as a second-round pick and some as low as a third-round pick. He was a high second-round pick on the Cowboys board.

Don't misunderstand. People in the Cowboys organization aren't troubled by the pick, just the process and decision to pass on a top-10 player.

"Frederick will be a quality player," a source said. "He has Nick Mangold qualities to him in terms of strength and intelligence. His upper body is strong. He will fight in the hole. The Cowboys got better with Frederick."

Again, it's not the pick that has everyone puzzled; it was the process.

The same goes with the trade with the 49ers. No matter how much owner Jerry Jones and Stephen Jones say they got good value, everyone knows they got snookered -- even those in the organization.

The Cowboys traded the 18th pick for the 31st pick and a third-round pick, 74th overall. Most trade charts indicated the Cowboys should have received a second- and third-round pick from the 49ers in the swap of first rounders -- based on value and how many picks the loaded 49ers had to deal.

Making matters worse is the Cowboys had gone over all scenarios before the draft, including a trade back with the 49ers for the 31st pick. The in-house mock trade had them picking up a second- and a third-round pick in addition to swapping first round picks. Neither Jones nor executive vice president of player personnel Stephen Jones was in the room during the pre-draft scenario.

"You've got to get more than that third-round pick," the source said. "It makes no sense. It is still a sore subject. The scenario had been talked about. A second and third had been talked about. When we did it, Stephen and Jerry weren't in there. It's a learning experience. The decision-makers make the decisions, and we live with it."

-- Clarence Hill

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