After a tumultuous second day of the draft for the Cowboys that turned out to be much shorter than anticipated, and all sorts of theories, hypotheses and even some plain fantasies being put forward subsequently about the events that transpired yesterday, I thought it might be a good idea to listen in on what the Cowboys themselves had to say about the first round of the 2014 NFL draft.
You can watch the full press conference on dallascowboys.com, or you can read the transcript of almost everything that was said in the 15-minute presser right here. As usual, this is a manual transcript of the presser, all mistakes and omissions are mine, and the transcript contains only minor edits for improved legibility.
Q: Are you sure this was the best Demarcus available?
Jerry Jones: The answer is "Yes."
All I can say is we sure were sensitive about making sure that in our front four, there were three points of emphasis, position-wise, in our defense where we really wanted to have as good a talent [as possible], or potentially [ a player with] an elite aspect to their talent – and he had that.
We identified that very early on, and we think we can develop that to potentially give us what we needed: That right end spot in this defense.
Q: Did you have a first-round grade on him, what do you like about his skill-set and do you consider him an elite potential?
Jerry Jones: […] I like his instincts with regard to getting to the passer. We were able to get a good look at that, evaluate that. And at the end of the day, that put him in a group of three players that were unique, [two of whom] had gone well before he did.
We certainly had him high. We basically grade by position, and in the area of putting pressure on the passer, he certainly was a first-round pressure player for us.
Garrett: We just really liked him. He’s a right end candidate for us. There are only a handful of right end guys in this draft, and we felt like we needed to come up with an impact player in our front seven in this draft. And those impact players go high; they’re first- and second-round players.
He’s got very good pass-rush ability, he’s got a quick get-off, he can bend, shows that he can get to the quarterback and make plays. If you combine his sacks and tackles-for-loss, just a very productive player over his two-year career up there at Boise. [Note: Lawrence had a college production ratio over his last two college years of 2.28, one of the highest in this year’s draft class.]
We think a lot of him as a player, and the skill-sets he brings in, the traits that he has, to play right end for us.
There are a lot of defensive linemen in the draft, but we felt like there were only a few guys who could play that spot, who have that elite skill to be able to do that. He was one of them; we feel really good about getting him on our football team.
Q: Can you talk about the trade and what you gave up?
Stephen Jones: Lawrence was the last guy we had in terms of the right end spot. There was one other player we thought could really help us in the defensive line. So there were two guys, and we thought there was a pretty good difference because of the right end flexibility, and that he could do that.
After going over it last night after the draft, and going over it again this morning, we felt like we needed to help the defense and knew that we might have to give up a little more than maybe the charts read out. As we all know, that can happen. It happens sometimes when you really want a guy, and we really wanted this guy. We had been visiting [with other teams], and we wanted to get up there at the top [of the second round] because we felt like he could go there because of his unique quality and we didn’t want to take a chance on losing him.
We were able to have a good relationship there with the Redskins, with Dan [Snyder] and Bruce Allen; worked through the day on some things and eventually got here about [when it was] time to start; we sweetened the pie a little bit and got our deal done.
Q: You’ve made trades with division teams in the past. Is there any worry that you helped a division foe by giving him two picks?
Stephen Jones: We don’t really look at it like that. I’m sure they could be concerned about the same thing, yet they do deals too, obviously.
[…] If you have confidence in what you’re doing, then you feel like you’re helping yourself through a division opponent. It depends on how you feel about the deal. Obviously you don’t do them unless you feel that helps you more than you think you’re giving up.
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Q: When you make a deal like this, do you look at who is left on the board in addition to who you’re going to pick?
Stephen Jones: What we really look at is just what we’re giving up for that player. In this particular case it was a third-round pick. Looking at our board, and looking at our defense that we really wanted to help, we thought this guy was unique, being one of the few guys on our board who could play the right end.
So we felt that to get a young guy coming at that spot – we feel he meets all the things you would want in a right end – that it was worth it for us to give up that pick.
Q: Does picking a defensive end help shake out who plays where on the defensive line?
Garrett: Absolutely. It certainly shakes out the landscape of that defensive front, and we’ve had a lot of discussion about where Tyrone [Crawford] is going to be for us, and we’ll continue those discussions as we put the depth chart together and see where we want him to start.
One of the great traits that Tyrone has is his versatility. We feel like he can play outside or inside, and we’ll continue to use him in that way. But we do want to have a starting point for him, and I think this will help us do that.
Q: How concerned are you that Lawrence had some issues at Boise State?
Garrett: Our scouts do such a good job with all these players, understanding where they came from and the circumstances behind any incidents they may or may not have. We’re very thorough discussing those things, and we get our arms around them, or else he wouldn’t be on our board.
So we talked it all through; had a lot of really good information; felt like those were issues that are in his past, and he’s the kind of guy that we want to bring to our football team.
Q: Is that why you brought him in for a visit, to get your hand around those issues?
Garrett: We had real interest in him as a football player. Certainly when he’s here and we have coaches talking to him, when I get a chance to talk to him and the Joneses get a chance to talk to him and a number of other people get a chance to visit with these guys, we go through all those things one more time, and hear the player’s side of whatever those situations might be. Again, we try to get our arms around where they are and then if we feel comfortable enough with what happened, or how we might be able to help a player, we put the player up on the board and we embrace him.
Q: He described it as childish behavior, would you agree with that?
Garrett: I think that’s how we saw this collectively: it was more of a maturity issue. We felt like these things are behind him and stuff we are comfortable with, or, again, he wouldn’t be on our board.
Q: You guys didn’t mess around. You got aggressive and went and got the guy you wanted. How much does that have to do with who he is replacing?
Jerry Jones: This was a need pick. The need to have in this draft a player that either could put some pressure from the outside, or provide us a unique complement to what we have inside and give us two people that have to be blocked.
We hope this player, and this was the only one that we saw left on the board, can draw two blocks in a pass-rush situation. So that made him very exclusive as far as we were concerned.
There were a lot of defensive linemen left up there; there were a lot of those guys that could play the nose; and there were some left up there that you could maybe line up out there, but not at the level that we felt [Lawrence] had - these elements of being a pressure right end.
So this was the classic case of seeing a need. Now the question in my mind was, "just how much will you pay for it?" We very thoroughly went over what we might have had if we stayed in our place, and what we wouldn’t have had is a guy who could rush the passer at right end and create the pressure that we need on this defense.
We think Melton, we think possibly Crawford, we think these guys will give us our three-technique that is a vital part of what Rod [Marinelli] wants to do with the defense. The other vital part, the indispensible part, the part that we didn’t have last year because DeMarcus Ware was injured most of the year, and the part that we hope to get immediately with this, is our second- and third down pressure player. And we felt that that deserved a premium in this draft.
Q: Do you see any similarities between Lawrence and Ware?
Garrett: I think it’s unfair to compare players like that. It’s interesting they have the same first name, but that’s not what we’re in the business of doing.
We have an opportunity in the draft to look at the landscape of players who can help us become better in the scheme that we are playing. And we want to choose players who are our kind of guys, who fit into our scheme the best, and we felt like Lawrence was the guy on the board who best did that for us.
We have to get better on defense. The way we get better on defense is improving our front seven. We simply need to come up with a player we felt could have an impact on our front seven.
I think we’ve done a very good job in free agency addressing some of the needs by adding Jeremy Mincey, Terrell McClain; we should have Tyrone Crawford back; some other guys who weren’t with us last year. But we felt this is the kind of guy who has some traits to be that right end player who really could make a difference for us.
We’ll see how quickly that happens; we’re very optimistic about his progress. Again, we see him as a second- and third down pass rusher on day one. One of those guys who could play in that kind of a role. We see him as an eventual starter at that position. Again, we’re excited to have him in our cub.
Q: After offense on the first day, did you decide to go defense the next day?
Jerry Jones: When we started this draft, and we looked at the first two picks, and looked at where we could be after two picks – we’ve got three draft picks, but after the first two picks – we wanted to end up with a starter and a player that could really impact on both fronts, offensive line and defensive line.
We had various combinations there. We were obviously thinking defense first and offense second. We ended up here with a higher pick than we thought we would in Zack Martin, and we have ended up with one of the three options we had [on defense] and we probably addressed a more acute situation with pass rusher than what we were going to do with Will [McClay] if we had drafted a linebacker [in the first round]. So we probably got a better fit here.
Those were [the options] I thought we would be looking at at this point on the board. What I didn’t plan on is after we’re through tonight, seeing two spots for three draft picks. That wasn’t necessarily a plan, but was necessitated by just who came off the board and when they came off.