Per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the trade swaps Dallas’ 2023 sixth-round pick with the Raiders’ 2024 seventh-round pick, making it one of the cheaper trades we might see substantially impact teams near the trade deadline.
The Cowboys will only have one year on Hankins’ contract to take advantage of, so this won’t stall their efforts to develop Neville Gallimore, who they drafted in the third round of the 2020 draft. Gallimore has been a disappointment, and he’s lost snaps to 2019 second-round pick Trysten Hill.
Grading the Trade: Raiders Send Johnathan Hankins to the Cowboys
The Raiders already had their full complement of picks for the 2023 draft, and this gives them a little bit more ammunition to move around if they need to, or even find late-round value. The Cowboys also had their full bevy of picks, but now they lose their sixth-round pick for a future seventh.
Cowboys Trade for Hankins
The Cowboys rank first in the NFL in total EPA allowed per play defensively, ranking third in EPA per passing dropback and eighth in EPA per rushing attempt. Much of that comes from turnovers, as Dallas ranks seventh in defensive passing success rate and ninth in rushing success rate.
They already had a good defense, but they don’t have much in the way of interior play and have tried to figure out a rotation at defensive tackle that would give them run-stopping power and interior pass rush.
Osa Odighizuwa, who enters on passing downs, leads the interior unit with 15 pressures. Hill and Gallimore have combined for eight. Not only that, all of them have been washed out in the run game, with Dallas relying on players like Demarcus Lawrence, Micah Parsons, Dorance Armstrong, and Leighton Vander Esch to make up the difference.
Hankins has had some trouble keeping his ground over the past couple of years, but over the course of his career, he’s been a high-level run defender and might be able to find that again with the impressive defensive support Dallas can offer around him.
As Dak Prescott readjusts to playing football coming off of injury, they’ll need to continue relying on their defense to win them games. By the time the playoffs come around, there’s a good chance that Dallas might come fully online and be one of the most dangerous teams in the league. Hankins should help with that. If he can play like his former self.
The trade is cheap, almost free, but it does consume a roster spot for a unit that may not need much help and for a player whose best days seem to be behind him.
Raiders Move on From Hankins
Over the past five years, the Raiders have earned a lot of value out of Hankins, who they picked up on a very cheap deal in 2018. But with Hankins seemingly losing strength and burst — providing value as both a pass rusher and run defender for the Colts before primarily being a run stuffer at the nose for the Raiders — he may not have a role on the team.
That said, the Raiders have rallied from their 0-3 start, following it with a 2-1 performance that saw them lose by one point to the Chiefs. The Raiders very much think they’re in it, but the defense doesn’t have much outside of Maxx Crosby and Duron Harmon.
They weren’t lacking in nose-tackle types, with Andrew Billings, Bilal Nichols, and rookie Neil Farrell Jr., who has been earning more snaps in the past few games. This allows them to give more reps to Farrell and invest in other positions on the defense such as cornerback, where they’re lacking in bodies. They have five cornerbacks on the practice squad and could call up one of those players.
Either way, Hankins had been a critical piece but was no longer. It wasn’t a great return, but it fits what the Raiders need.
Hankins Gets Support
Hankins probably knew he was on the outside looking in, as his snaps decreased over the past few games while Farrell saw more snaps. He’s been asked to do quite a bit on that defense and will be asked to do less in Dallas. This should also give him an opportunity to earn a second contract.
Even so, it’s not a completely secure environment. It’s a great group of players to play alongside, but the Cowboys have invested a lot of capital and money into the position, and any of them could shoulder Hankins out of snaps once more.