Ah yes, the 2003 NFL Draft in Madison Square Garden is quickly approaching.
The chill of winter will give way to the warmth of spring and Cowboys fans everywhere will rejoice in the fact that team actually has a decent coaching staff for the first time in years.
No longer will everyone with a football IQ question every move made by Dave Campo and Bruce Coslet. No, the Cowboys have a real coach now, a coach with a proven track record of turning around teams and getting to the Super Bowl.
It goes without saying that Parcells will have about 800 decisions to make before the draft, and right now he's probably only at #11 on that list. But looking at the current state of the team, some observations can be made with certainty.
With the #5 overall pick this year, the Cowboys could do one of many things. They could trade up, and try to grab the services of a franchise quarterback like Byron Leftwich or Carson Palmer.
They could stay put, and hope that one of those quarterbacks, or another top offensive player will be available with the fifth selection. Or they could trade down, and possibly end up with as many as 3 first round draft picks.
As it stands now, the smart money is going with the last option.
Why you ask? Because the Cowboys aren't quite ready to give up on Chad Hutchinson. The short-term goal is to bring in a veteran quarterback that can help the team immediately, and allow Hutchinson to develop under him.
"Chad showed us he can be an NFL player and nothing that has transpired with Bill or the coaching staff diminishes Chad's potential and the possibility of Chad as our quarterback," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said.
"I'm more sold on the potential of Chad helping us but, I understand you would like to have more experience at quarterback. We would like to have more experience at quarterback."
That experience will unquestionably come from a player like a Vinny Testeverde or Jake Plummer, it won't come from a rookie quarterback, and that all but eliminates the organization from trading up.
The Cowboys need help at several positions, and some of those needs will be addressed in the offseason before the draft. The ones that are not will likely be taken care of in the first round, after the Cowboys trade down.
A brief look at the history of both Bill Parcells and Jerry Jones seems to confirm this very fact.
Parcells has a way of stockpiling first round draft picks, just look at the 2000 NFL draft when he obtained 4 first round picks through a series of trades and slick maneuvers.
He also has a way of identifying talent, when other teams have seemingly overlooked it. By doing this, he's been able to improve the overall talent level of his team every single year he's been a head coach. Whether that talent is young or old is beside the point, Parcells knows when he sees something he likes.
"The best way to improve a team," Parcells said at the time, "is to integrate as many good, young players as possible. Nobody ever passed a rule that said you couldn't try to get as many good young players on your team as possible."
Jones got into the draft day frenzy himself last year when he traded the 6th overall selection to Kansas City for first and third round choices in 2002 and sixth round choice in 2003.
The main idea to get across here is that Cowboys could add more players that could help them in the coming years by taking that #5 pick and trading down to receive multiple selections later in the first round, or early in the 2nd.
That's a fact.
This team doesn't need to go in the direction of a young quarterback; they've already got a gunslinger with a year of experience his back pocket. He just needs to be molded under the guidance of a proven coaching staff and a savvy veteran signal caller.
Trading down would allow Dallas to fill several needs in just one day of the draft. The offensive line and running back positions would likely be addressed with those early selections.
What happens between now and the end of April will certainly give us a clear indication of which direction the Cowboys will go, but right now, anything other than trading down, seems like a mistake to me.
Stay tuned! The fun is just getting started when talking about all the possibilities of the 2003 NFL Draft.
Trade Up or Trade Down?
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