(This is a rough transcript of Jerry Jones' pre-draft press conference today. Jerry doesn't talk linearly, he jumps around a lot, but I tried to put what he said in proper context. These are not exact quotes, but what I believe are pretty good approximations of what he said. There is more on the second page, so click the link at the bottom to read more.)
Jerry: We’re working on our draft board, it will be posted for everybody to look at later (laughter). Busy week, good things have happened when have two #1 picks in the draft, flexibility to maneuver, or stay still and get two players.
Our personnel on the team, has always been a premium, anytime. I’ve always had the last call, the ultimate yes or no with a draft pick. With that goes a responsibility to be informed, that’s why I go to the Senior Bowl, made it to some individual player workouts. I don’t think I’ve missed a combine. It’s important I get a sense where we’re coming from in respect to the scouts. They are years ahead looking at these players, sometimes watching them since they were sophomores. Coaches don’t have that benefit. Scouts grades before Dec. is a big item for me. It is critical for our club, sitting here making decision, I have to be informed. That doesn’t mean the head coach doesn’t have input. But I’m the one who has to sit here after the coach is gone. At the bottom of the first round it’s still huge resources committed. If I was making a multi-million expansion of this facility, I would think about for months and months, it would be mismanagement if I didn’t spend time; it’s the same with picking players. It’s very tempting, come from a background of trading to try to increase the value. Try to get value out of a couple of #1’s. Take where we are strategically and make more value. We’ll be active in trying to trade up and down.
You seem to be more back in charge now that Bill is gone and the transition in scouting. Before Bill, there was some criticism of your drafts, do you feel the need to prove yourself?
You can be critical about draft picks, at end of day, the decisions are a culmination of input, 5 or 6 people should affix their signature to a pick so you can pull it out 3 or 4 years late and say we were all on the same page., But ultimately, especially trading, that call is difficult, to make that trade up or down, never had anybody to put that together because ultimately the responsibility comes to me. When you wear both hats, owner and general manager, it’s your responsibility. With Bill, some coaches have more presence through tenure or experience. Ironic with Jimmy, making trades was not his background so to speak. With Bill, we had about 10 substantive disagreements in a 4 year period. Disagreements early in the draft, I would weigh them and ultimately make that decision. It’s an important time, the opportunity to make decisions in a short period of time. I don’t think this draft is any different. We’ve had drafts criticized. I was as much a part of the bad ones as the good ones. If I thought there was someone who could pick a good football player all the time, I would pay them to get in here. Coaches are real important but they can’t spend the time on scouting all the players. Our board and scouts don’t make the decisions, they gather information and manage the scouts. When those grades are turned in, before Christmas I pay attention. Our board is a culmination of that info. There’s a difference on the board whether it reflects a need or BPA, and other issues, players taken off because of character or injury. When the draft board comes in, it would be madness to move too far from the scouts evaluations though.
Will Wade or other guys in the room disagree with you openly on draft day?
Absolutely, many in the room disagree with me. I may ask the question, I’m asking them to tell me where I’m wrong. That room is full of questions being asked between the scouts. Might have a situation where I say this guy is better at YAC or has good hands, where Tom C. would stand up and say he doesn’t catch well, go look at the film. They should recognize I respect the fact they’ve been evaluating the players. Not good to overrule if 3 scouts say he has bad hands. Interesting to see the interplay between scouts and coaches, Bill and Wade, what is being argued is subjective, there is no real answer. A coach might say I have to coach them, I would say you might not be coaching him long, you might not be here. Tom C. does a good job of putting the board up. I’m interested in reports before the scouts come together in the last month and sell each other. I like going back to what they saw over the years, before December. The medical staff also evaluates, that’s another world. We can get in a debate about that and say we’ve had XYZ play with that condition for years. But another player may have needed surgery every year since we drafted them. Makes you honor the yellow tag, a medical tag, you have to look at that.
(There's more, click the link to read it all, lots of good stuff after the jump.)
(There's more, click the link to read it all, lots of good stuff after the jump.)
Lessons learned with multiple picks in the first round?
Yes, you can move one around and still be at that level in the draft. It gives a safety net in case a player drops down. If we moved around our #22 pick, if a player drops to #28, it’s a safety net to get him. Last year we moved out and moved back in to get Spencer. You can manage and protect your areas of the draft, the bottom third of draft. It gives you additional draft consideration, you can bundle those picks with new point system and go a long way to top of the board. The value has gotten so skewed at the top of draft, the top 10, consequently the value of those top picks is diminished. You can get up there easier than in the past.
You’ve had no offensive picks in the first round the last 10 years, is that a philosophy of the organization?
It probably indicated a leaning toward getting the type players that you can get in the first round. Pressure players or cover guys, although we did get Spears a few years ago. As I sit here today, we paid a heavy price and had to go out in free agency, especially along the offensive line. It has changed our thinking to some degree. It wasn’t as apparent, the impact on the franchise because we hadn’t been paying top money to a QB or top WR. When we started paying Tony, Terrell and the offensive line, you end up paying the fiddler. Rogers and Peterman not being here for us, cost us. Makes it tight for us on the salary cap. I’ve been there, done that, and I’m now weighing that closely, offense or defense. Have to get the benefit of a lesser cost player in the draft. Another reason for us to stay out of the top 10, because of the cap, where we are is a good spot, lesser hit on cap, get just as good a player or close to it.
Is there any scenario where you’d move into the Top 10?
I don’t think so but I don’t want to totally dismiss it, leave it at that. The conditions of getting up there, what it took to do it, the position and risk relative to that position. Make a contract at #7 or #8, you have to weigh if he’s going to come in and be a player. If you got a perfect storm, and weighed a little risk if the reward is enough, I could envision it as a possibility.
Ever been in as good a position in the draft as this one, having two picks at the bottom third?
I like our spot relative to the 2008 draft. I haven’t liked it better except maybe having three #1’s in ’91. The dollars were doable back than, at that time. But this gives us an opportunity, 3 picks on the first day, in the first two rounds.
Do the players you draft in the first have to be of immediate help and make a significant contribution this season?
Yes, even with offensive lineman, we’ve seen some offensive linemen that could help us immediately. That is a big criterion, to get on the field this year. If I was in the project business this year I would trade down.
Do the contract negotiations with MB3 affect what you might do with running backs?
No, they do not. Not to diminish the importance of talks with Barber, but we’re going to assume that we will get something worked out with him in terms of decision in the draft. As far as this draft we assume we’ll get something done.
Is a trade for a vet WR more likely to happen on draft day than before?
Unquestionably on the clock on draft day is an important time to get the most value for veteran player in demand. That’s the best time to move. The minute the draft is over, draft picks don’t have near the value. Amazing how the perception of the rookie players also diminishes after the draft over. Minutes before he’s the next savior and right after you wonder if he can ever get on the field. The short time on the clock will affect things. Short-lined decision making, not having many layers, a short time for the decision maker, that could be big for us.
Will you try to trade for a vet WR on draft day?
Not necessarily, we’re going to jeep those options open.
We allocate a certain amount out of salary cap and that also comes out of rookie pool. That’s a disincentive to go nuts offering contract to UDFA. But theoretically if you look at picks after the 7th round, say 10 make it in the NFL this year, you can go and get them all if you’re aggressive. I like that incentive.
Do this year’s draft strengths meet your team needs?
If you’re looking for an immediate impact WR, it’s not there. Immediate help at that position, we probably have that in-house, especially if we have Terry Glenn healthy. I’m thinking positively about that, it’s part of the plans. We might have the best thing since ice cream in-house in terms of a veteran WR. That’s a risk, still, there’s a lot of risk in anything you do including drafting one. I would be a lot less comfortable if we didn’t have that, plus I like our other young WR’s. This draft doesn’t have a WR who could do that this year. We need another RB, but we’re sitting here with Barber and that puts us in good shape. There’s no gun to our head in the RB situation, but there are some good RB’s, offensive linemen and corners in this draft. One of our strengths is our defensive and offensive front. For us this is a good draft.
Can MB3 carry a full load?
I’ll give you the Wade Phillips answer, the only time we started him he gave us 120 yards against a good defense. I think you’re over-analyzing it if you let that really sway your decision. I believe that in some place in the draft we can address an additional back. Even if we strike out on RB we’re still in a good position.
Do you consider a 3rd corner a starter?
Yes, I consider it that. You have to have more than 3, but if you can get your 3 of high quality that’s good.
That thing has quieted down. No news there.
Is the 28th spot a good place for another team to trade up for to get a QB?
Yes, we’ve noted that. We’ve looked at that, that’s how we end up with an extra #1 in the previous years. One day we’ll end up with one high in the draft after a trade, the other team won’t win. There’s one situation out there, probably two, that could have a lot of interest in that spot.
Does the latest Pacman news change anything about trading for him?
I only know what I’ve read, I take it on face value, we’re in the same place we have been. At the owners meeting I thought it would be resolved, but now there’s not a lot of energy.
Is a corner a necessity in the draft?
We don’t go in saying we have to do it, but there are some numbers and where we are with our picks, not too high to be taking some of those corners. Our pick is high enough that you could see some corners there. Having lost the two we did, that’s a good place to look for it. Obviously, there are a lot of corners this year. There is not as much a drop-off after the top four, our board doesn’t reflect a big drop-off after the first few. The year we drafted Newman, Newman and Trufant were above the rest, but there’s more comparativeness this year. They certainly have some good points, those guys that are not in the top 4, they just might have one hole. One might have played in a higher level of competition, or one doesn’t have the speed but has football instincts.
Not before the draft or on draft day. I can say that without equivocation. Poor time to do that because players are devalued during the draft.
Do you need to groom a QB for the future?
We like the progress we’ve seen in our young QB (Bartel). Not the same from when he came in last year. Looking more and more like a QB,
throwing the ball well, wouldn’t disappoint me not to get one. Hard to draft
backups and then trade them later and come out on top. When you do develop one
that is good it sounds good but may not work. I was showed an example of
You’ve made 40 something draft day trades. Are teams more willing to call you to trade than other teams without a reputation for trading?
I think so, there are teams that I don’t bother to call because they won’t trade. Some teams get the advantage by trading. I deliberately made bad trades so they will trade with me in the future (joke – sort of). A positive approach to trading leads to gain by trading.
You know that it’s against the rules to mention a player on another team without permission.
Have you talked to the Bengals?
With the rise through free agency of salaries for safeties, would you consider going the draft route to get one?
Yes, that has to be a consideration. Although, if there is such a thing in value of franchising a player, that is the one position, the last position with value. That’s reflected in the salaries of safeties. In general, the salaries have gotten to where the draft is a big deal. Unfortunately, the costs in the top 10 are the same as free agency, with more risk.