The Dallas Cowboys could have options to trade down from No. 26 in the upcoming NFL draft given there is a strong possibility the team does not have a player with a first-round grade available when the franchise is on the clock. The Athletic’s Jon Machota suggested a trade that popped up while he was doing his seven-round mock draft.
The proposed deal has Dallas sliding down three spots to No. 29 with New Orleans while the Cowboys add a fourth-round pick (No. 115) in return for allowing the Saints to move up for Clemson pass rusher Myles Murphy. Dallas is still able to snag former Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer with their new pick at No. 29.
“The best players available at the time were Clemson DE Myles Murphy, Notre Dame TE Michael Mayer, Clemson LB Trenton Simpson, Iowa State DE Will McDonald, Utah TE Dalton Kincaid, Pittsburgh DT Calijah Kancey, Boston College WR Zay Flowers, Tennessee WR Jalin Hyatt, Georgia TE Darnell Washington, Florida OG O’Cyrus Torrence, Arkansas LB Drew Sanders, Michigan DT Mazi Smith, Mississippi State CB Emmanuel Forbes and Alabama RB Jahmyr Gibbs,” Machota wrote on April 24, 2023.
“With so much talent still available, we accepted the trade. Murphy, Simpson and Kancey were the next three picks.”
Tight end is arguably the strongest position in the upcoming draft, and Dallas has a Dalton Schultz size hole to fill this offseason. Mayer is drawing comparisons to former Cowboys star tight end Jason Witten, but there is no guarantee the playmaker will be available at No. 26. ESPN’s Matt Miller reported that one rival scout emphasized there is “no way in hell” the Cowboys pass on “Jason Witten clone” in Mayer if the playmaker is available.
“‘There is no way in hell Jerry Jones passes up a Jason Witten clone if he’s on the board.’ That’s how one rival scout with over 20 years in the business described this projection,” Miller noted on April 23. “Mayer would be a safety valve in the middle of the field for Dak Prescott; he caught 180 passes for 2,099 yards and 18 touchdowns over three seasons in South Bend. Mayer is a great run-blocker but also might have the best hands of any pass-catcher in this class.”
Not only does the trade still send Mayer to Big D, the Cowboys also land a potential replacement for Ezekiel Elliott with the fourth-round pick the team added via Machota’s trade proposal. The mock has Dallas taking former Ole Miss running back Zach Evans in the fourth round, who The Athletic’s Dane Brugler labeled a “boom-or-bust prospect.” Evans posted 144 carries for 936 rushing yards and nine touchdowns in 12 appearances last season.
“This is the pick the Cowboys added on the trade back in the first round with the Saints,” Machota added. “Evans ended up being the pick over Iowa State WR Xavier Hutchinson, LSU WR Kayshon Boutte and Tennessee DE Byron Young. With Ezekiel Elliott no longer on the roster, another starting-caliber running back is of interest to the Cowboys.”