Why Cowboys Trading Up To 49ers 13th Pick Would Be Mistake

Matt Maiocco of the Press Democrat just reported that the Cowboys are interested in trading up to the San Francisco 49ers’ 13th overall selection to draft Texas safety Earl Thomas–a player we have rated No. 5 overall on our Big Board.  This information should be taken with a grain of salt, as Maiocco is perhaps not a completely unbiased observer and no other similar claims have been made.

Nonetheless, we wanted to take a look at the possibility of this trade and how it would affect the Cowboys.  According to the NFL’s Draft Trade Value Chart, Dallas would have to surrender its first, second, and third round selections to move up to the 49ers’ 13th pick. Is Thomas really worth that much?

Looking at it another way, imagine the players the Cowboys could acquire with those picks.  USF safety Nate Allen, UMass guard/tackle Vladimir Ducasse, and Texas wide receiver Jordan Shipley are all realistic options for Dallas in the first, second, and third round, respectively.  Would you rather have Thomas alone, or Allen, Ducasse, and Shipley?  We know what we’d prefer.

Of course, the Cowboys could yield a player as part of the deal. Defensive end Marcus Spears, who is reportedly on the trading block, might interest the 49ers since they run a 3-4 defense.  However, it is unlikely Spears is worth more than about a third round pick due to his restricted free agent status.

Whether the deal includes the Cowboys’ first, second, and third or first, second, and Spears, the value is simply not apparent. Yes, Thomas is an impact player and one Dallas would love to acquire, but he is not worth the top half of the team’s draft.

There are other more likely scenarios that could get Thomas in a Cowboys uniform, however.  If the 49ers are interested in trading with Dallas, their 17th overall pick is likely up for grabs as well. According to the chart, trading up to the Niners’ second pick in the first round would cost the Cowboys less than their first and second-rounders.  Their first, third, and fourth round picks might do the job.

Is Thomas worth a first, a third, and a fourth?  Maybe, maybe not–but we are getting closer.  If San Fran does have interest in Spears, perhaps the Cowboys could substitute him for their third-rounder.  Now the deal would cost the ‘Boys just their fourth round selection and a player who will likely be on another team in 2011 whether he is traded this season or not.

Ultimately, we cannot see the Cowboys trading up to the 13th overall selection.  The price of admission is simply too great.  If Earl Thomas happens to fall to the 49ers 17th pick, however, a deal becomes a lot more likely.  If Dallas could score that pick for their first, fourth, and Marcus Spears, we say go for it.