It's here. Draft day has dawned, and we are now down to hours and minutes before we start finding out who will be coming to the Dallas Cowboys through the NFL Draft.
Yesterday, Jerry Jones gathered his key lieutenants, Jason Garrett, Stephen Jones, and Tom Ciskowski, to talk about the approach the Cowboys will be taking in the draft. You can catch the entire news conference here, but since my thing is writing about the Cowboys, here are some of the key points to come out of it. Put this all together, and you can get a pretty good idea of the approach these guys are going to use in the war room.
One big thing is that the team is taking a very flexible approach.
And, every position on the roster - even the relatively deep ones -- are potential targets with their eight total selections.
"We don't feel like we're hostage at any spot in this draft," team owner/general manager Jerry Jones said Wednesday.
Free agency made them feel flexible.
More intriguing quotes after the jump.
Jason Garrett gives a pitch for the type of player he looks at, restating a theme that has come out lately.
"We want guys who are tough, competitive and love to play football and work hard at it and want to be part of a football team," Garrett said. "We want those guys on defense and we want them on offense and we want them in this organization. I think if you ask most coaches around the league, they would say the same thing."
And don't think that being flexible means that the team doesn't have a plan.
"I'm very comfortable when we're sitting in there tomorrow night that that decision, you won't have anybody grabbing your hand and stuff, talking to you as the card goes in," Jones said. "That decision will be one that we've ironed all of that out beforehand."
One of the things the team is working out in advance is how to approach possible trades.
"It would be inordinate for there not to be some talking from teams whether or not we could have an interest in (trading) up or down," Jones said. "This is business as usual. The answer is, you get those kinds of calls two or three days before the draft."
Without naming specific teams, Jones confirmed the Cowboys have received calls from clubs interested in the 14th overall pick.
"And have made them," Jones added.
Of course, with any trading, the team will need to have an idea of who they want to take with any new position resulting from a trade. When we get into out always cordial and relaxed discussions about players here at BTB, one of the topics of discussion is the relative value of workout and combine results versus looking at video of the players. Jason Garrett gave his stance on how to use the two.
"Sure he ran fast or he is really strong or this and that . . . but what does the film look like," Garrett said. "Ultimately you're evaluating football players. The guys that I've been around and we've evaluated together . . . we've relied on the tape. Now sometimes a workout can help you - but it can be good and bad. Sometimes you find a good player who didn't run that fast. So it goes both ways. Ultimately, you've got to go back to the tape."
Paging Archie Barberio. Mr. Barberio, your talents are needed.
Of course, no matter how you evaluate the prospects, the objective is to find players that help the team. Jason also chimed in on just what he expects from a player, based on what round he comes from.
"Now, are (first-, second- and third-round picks) Day 1 starters? You can't say that," Garrett said. "Nobody can say that, but at some point in their careers you would like to think that they're a starter, and the sooner the better.
"Now, if you can get in the fourth round and start getting a starter player, maybe he's a younger player who needs time to develop but can be a starter down the road, you get four of them. Or maybe that fourth-round player is a (special) teams guy. Maybe he has a particular role and will never be an every-down player but he has a role for you that's fairly defined.
"And then when you get in the fifth, sixth and seventh (rounds), I think you're looking for players with special traits. Again, maybe a role for your team or maybe a guy who isn't ready to play but maybe has the measurables and the makeup and you think down the road can be a player for you in a given role or maybe even as a starter."
I think these pieces give us a pretty good idea of the big picture. The team is using a largely BPA approach, and it is open to trading up or down if the situation requires it. They have a plan, but not one that locks them into anything before they see how the draft is playing out. Jason Garrett is still talking about the Cowboy Way, and he has some clear expectations of what he expects to get from different rounds. I thought this was pretty informative.
But then, there is another element to the run-up to the draft. It's called misdirection, or smokescreens. And Jerry Jones admitted it after the cameras were off.
"Just because I said it doesn't make it so," Jones said, laughing and adding, "A famous quote from a governor in Arkansas."
And that's when you realize so much of the pre-draft discussions should be viewed with a large dose of skepticism.
We shall soon see. Looks like it could be fun and exciting.