A knee-jerk overreaction nearly always follows the news of a trade. Typically, one side is said to be getting the short end of the stick while the other is reveling in its new riches.
When the news broke that Amari Cooper was being shipped from Oakland to Dallas in exchange for a first round pick, many were quick to call out Dallas for making a foolish decision. It’s fair to form the opinion that Cooper is only a shadow of himself compared to his first two seasons in the NFL. In 2015 and 2016, Cooper ranked in the top 20 in the league in targets and posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.
Since his historic freshman and sophomore seasons in the league, Cooper’s production and consistency have dipped in dramatic fashion. A multiplicity of factors may be responsible for his decline: a decrease in targets, a 10.4 percent drop rate in 2017, a different offensive coordinator in year three, and a struggling Derek Carr at quarterback.
Oakland shopping its once great wideout to help rejuvenate its roster may have been initially perceived as premature.
But now with the unveiling of a first round pick in return? “Great job, Oakland.”
How the Raiders’ front office managed to pull that off remains a mystery. It now opens a high-trade demand for better players across the league than Cooper that are said to be on the trading block. But that’s for another time.
The majority of the disapproval of the deal stems from Dallas dealing its first-round pick of the 2019 NFL Draft for a receiver that has faltered over the past two seasons. Based on box score numbers and some metrics, it doesn’t make much sense.
With this trade going into effect, it’s now obvious Dallas was solely targeting a wide receiver in the first round of next year’s draft.
Peeking into the 2019 wide receiver draft class and not coming away overly impressed, dealing a first round pick for a two-time Pro Bowler who is only 24 years old doesn’t look too bad, after all.
The 2019 draft class is, and will continue to be, highlighted by trendy edge rushers and dominant interior defensive linemen. Nick Bosa already made his decision to leave Ohio State and prepare himself for the draft process. Ed Oliver of Houston has made a public statement on his intentions to enter the draft a year early.
Though one of the NFL’s most feared edge rushers has yet to ink a long-term deal with Dallas, Demarcus Lawrence is projected to be retained in some capacity. Taco Charlton, 2017 first round pick, has yet to reach his full potential but is showing strides toward becoming a smart investment.
Offensive tackles are always hot commodities in the first round, but Dallas doesn’t have to bite a towel and risk reaching for one in an average class (Jonah Williams may be the only offensive tackle worth selecting in the first round).
Running back: check.
Safety, tight end and interior defensive line can be upgraded, but with a first round investment over Cooper? No thanks.
If one can get ahold of a scout, say, mid-April, his mind is very focused on the upcoming draft, but also a list is already being formulated of the class for next year. One would expect that the majority of scouting departments has a high percentage of its watch lists filled out in the summer and throughout the season, mostly check-boxes of what they saw on film adding some information to strengthen a report.
The Dallas scouting personnel has made it evident that it does not think highly of the 2019 wide receiver draft class, even at just over the halfway mark in the college football season. Assuming there is a strong relationship between the scouting department and decision maker Jerry Jones, the unfolding of events was given a thumbs up by both parties.
The current consensus of the top wideouts in the draft class is a choice between Ole Miss receivers AJ Brown and DK Metcalf. Brown’s big-bodied persona and yards after catch ability provide for an intriguing NFL outlook, but his sub-par explosiveness and average speed don’t scream first round receiver just yet.
As written last week, Metcalf’s deep threat ability, subtle quickness in his routes, and prowess when attacking the football highlight the likes of a first round player. But with now a wrench being thrown into his scouting report, the redshirt sophomore will miss the remainder of the season because of neck surgery; his longevity questions would be difficult to support with a first round investment.
Other first round wide receiver hopefuls include Bryan Edwards (South Carolina), Kelvin Harmon (NC State), N’Keal Harry (Arizona State), Anthony Johnson (Buffalo), and Deebo Samuel (South Carolina). Though each receiver has attractive qualities that could be implemented into an NFL offense right away, none is blooming with eye-popping colors at the moment.
The Cowboys and Jones are not foolish for exchanging a first round pick for a player that has experience and has shown promise in the past.
Taking on a task to develop a rookie receiver while attempting to figure out if Dak Prescott is worth a long-term investment isn’t going to help the biggest offseason question.
Though showing struggles within the past season and a half, Cooper puts this team in the right direction of going forward on the Prescott evaluation and not having to reach for potentially an unworthy first round receiver.
Feature image photo: Michael Ainsworth/AP Photo