Fri. Jan 27th, 2023

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:

Rank Player Team Pick
1 Kayvon Thibodeaux, ED, Oregon NYG 5
2 Evan Neal, OT, Alabama NYG 7
3 Aidan Hutchinson, ED, Michigan DET 2
4 Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio St NYJ 10
5 Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati NYJ 4
6 Derek Stingley, CB, LSU HOU 3
7 Travon Walker, ED, Georgia JAX 1
8 Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame WAS 14
9 Ikem Ekwonu, OT, North Carolina St CAR 6
10 Drake London, WR, USC ATL 8
11 Jordan Davis, IDL, Georgia PHI 13
12 Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi St SEA 9
13 Lewis Cine, S, Georgia MIN 32
14 Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama DET 12

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. 

Rank Player Team Pick
15 Chris Olave, WR, Ohio St NO 11
16 Tyler Smith, OG, Tulsa DAL 24
17 Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah JAX 27
18 Daxton Hill, S, Michigan CIN 31
19 Breece Hall, RB, Michigan St NYJ 36
20 Kenyon Green, OG, Texas A&M HOU 15
21 George Karlaftis, ED, Purdue KC 30
22 Zion Johnson, OG, Boston College LAC 17
23 Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas TEN 18
24 Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington CHI 39
25 Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa BAL 25
26 David Ojabo, ED, Michigan BAL 45
27 Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn St WAS 16
28 Jermaine Johnson, ED, Florida St NYJ 26
29 Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida BUF 23
30 Arnold Ebiketie, ED, Penn St ATL 38
31 Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington KC 21
32 Quay Walker, LB, Georgia GB 22
33 Devonte Wyatt, IDL, Georgia GB 28
34 Logan Hall, DL, Houston TB 33

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. 

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