Panthers Trade Up To Steal RB Jonathon Brooks From Jerry Jones and the Cowboys

Jerry Jones is probably heartbroken after the Panthers traded up to steal RB Jonathon Brooks from the Cowboys. But why did Carolina draft a running back?

Jerry Jones is probably heartbroken. The Dallas Cowboys owner was effusive in his praise of Texas RB Jonathon Brooks on Thursday night but had to watch the Carolina Panthers trade up to steal the prospect Jones and Co. may have coveted at pick No. 56 in the second round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Panthers Jump Ahead of Cowboys To Draft RB Jonathon Brooks

If Jones wanted Brooks to fall to the Cowboys in the middle of Round 2, he probably should have been a little bit quieter.

“In my 30 years, I thought it was the best interview that I’ve ever interviewed with a player,” Jones said of Brooks after Dallas selected Oklahoma offensive tackle Tyler Guyton with their first-round pick.

“He’s outstanding,” Jones added. “He’s just outstanding. He’s a great football player. We’ve got him high, high, high.”

The Cowboys are searching for a running back after Tony Pollard signed a free agent deal with the Tennessee Titans in March. Rico Dowdle, Deuce Vaughn, and Royce Freeman are at the top of Dallas’ RB depth chart, while the Cowboys are discussing a reunion with veteran back Ezekiel Elliott.

Brooks might’ve been a first-round pick if he hadn’t suffered a torn ACL in November. He averaged 6.1 yards per carry while posting 1,425 total yards and 11 total touchdowns in just 11 games for the Longhorns in 2023.

Why Did the Panthers Draft Brooks?

Carolina is trying to surround 2023 No. 1 pick Bryce Young with weapons. After adding free agent offensive lineman Robert Hunt and Damien Lewis in free agency, the Panthers moved up to No. 32 to draft WR Xavier Legette before trading up to grab Brooks on Day 2.

The idea of bringing in more offensive talent around Young obviously makes sense, but Carolina was the worst team in the NFL last season. They’re the last organization in the league that should be not only selecting the first running back in the draft, but trading up to do so.

The Panthers made an excellent trade earlier in Round 2, picking up No. 155 and a 2025 second-rounder from the Los Angeles Rams to move down 13 spots. But they undid much of that progress by giving up the equivalent of the 66th overall pick on the Fitzgerald-Spielberger draft value chart to move up for Brooks.

Panthers Trade Up To Steal RB Jonathon Brooks From Jerry Jones and the Cowboys

Carolina might’ve been wise to learn a lesson from last year’s free agent period, when it signed former Philadelphia Eagles RB Miles Sanders to a four-year, $24 million deal.

A different Panthers regime made that move, but current GM Dan Morgan and HC Dave Canales should’ve taken note. Sanders was eventually benched for former fourth-round pick Chuba Hubbard, who finished with positive yards over expectation per attempt.

While Carolina papered over many of its defensive needs in free agency, the Panthers are hardly a running back away from competing for the NFC South title. They would have had a much better chance at receiving surplus value out of their second-round pick had they A) not traded up or B) used the choice on a premium position like EDGE or CB.

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