In an attempt to prove that the team’s first-round pick, former Tulsa offensive lineman Tyler Smith, was higher on their draft board than two players who were drafted ahead of him, Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones last week pulled out a laminated sheet of paper containing what appeared to be the first two rounds of the Cowboys’ draft board. Jerry was predictably admonished by team vice presidents Stephen Jones and Will McClay for showing off the board, but apparently he held it out there just long enough for it to be deciphered.
Our friends at The Athletic enlarged and enhanced the photo and were able to figure out the first 34 of what appeared to be 39 players with first or second-round grades on the Cowboys’ board. According to Jon Machota, the Cowboys had 14 players with first-round grades. That group appears to be as follows:
RankPlayerTeamPick1Kayvon Thibodeaux, ED, OregonNYG52Evan Neal, OT, AlabamaNYG73Aidan Hutchinson, ED, MichiganDET24Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio StNYJ105Ahmad Gardner, CB, CincinnatiNYJ46Derek Stingley, CB, LSUHOU37Travon Walker, ED, GeorgiaJAX18Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre DameWAS149Ikem Ekwonu, OT, North Carolina StCAR610Drake London, WR, USCATL811Jordan Davis, IDL, GeorgiaPHI1312Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi StSEA913Lewis Cine, S, GeorgiaMIN3214Jameson Williams, WR, AlabamaDET12
Notably, the top two players on Dallas’ drafted board were selected at Nos. 5 and 7 overall by the division rival New York Giants, giving the team the top offensive and defensive player in the draft, according to Dallas. The Philadelphia Eagles nabbed Dallas’ No. 11-graded player, Jordan Davis, at No. 13 overall.
Among that group of 14 players, 13 were already off the board by the time the Cowboys came on the clock at pick No. 24 of the first round. The only one left was safety Lewis Cine, who was eventually selected by the Vikings with the final pick of the first round.
The Cowboys have shown us over the years that they do not value the safety position all that highly, as they have not selected a safety in either the first or second round since Roy Williams in 2002. Instead of Cine, the Cowboys took a player three spots lower on the board, who had one of their top two second-round grades.
RankPlayerTeamPick15Chris Olave, WR, Ohio StNO1116Tyler Smith, OG, TulsaDAL2417Devin Lloyd, LB, UtahJAX2718Daxton Hill, S, MichiganCIN3119Breece Hall, RB, Michigan StNYJ3620Kenyon Green, OG, Texas A&MHOU1521George Karlaftis, ED, PurdueKC3022Zion Johnson, OG, Boston CollegeLAC1723Treylon Burks, WR, ArkansasTEN1824Kyler Gordon, CB, WashingtonCHI3925Tyler Linderbaum, C, IowaBAL2526David Ojabo, ED, MichiganBAL4527Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn StWAS1628Jermaine Johnson, ED, Florida StNYJ2629Kaiir Elam, CB, FloridaBUF2330Arnold Ebiketie, ED, Penn StATL3831Trent McDuffie, CB, WashingtonKC2132Quay Walker, LB, GeorgiaGB2233Devonte Wyatt, IDL, GeorgiaGB2834Logan Hall, DL, HoustonTB33
Low-first and top-second grades are often quite close to each other, but the sequencing does make one wonder if the Cowboys may have missed out on a potential trade-down opportunity. Stephen Jones said during the team’s post-Round 1 press conference that they had a trade-down option, but that the team attempting to come up to No. 24 later told him that it would have selected Tyler Smith with that pick. Had they moved down and seen Smith come off the board, the Cowboys likely would have been selecting from a group that included Cine, Devin Lloyd, Daxton Hill, Breece Hall, and George Karlaftis.
Give this to Jerry, though, the board does indeed show that the team had Smith graded ahead of Kenyon Green and Zion Johnson, who were the two players many thought the Cowboys would be targeting at No. 24. So, at least he wasn’t lying about that.