Six out of eight players the Cowboys drafted over the weekend play on the offensive side of the ball. This has raised some eyebrows, particularly considering that many observers thought that the the major needs on the team outside of the O-line were on the defensive side of the ball.
In yesterday's press conference the Cowboys Brass were grilled accordingly. Stephen Jones and Jason Garrett took turns answering those questions. Along the way, they stressed how following their board led them to the picks they made, how the draft is just one part of the talent acquisition process and that free agency as well as re-signing their own free agents, particularly on defense will be an important building block for the team once the league establishes a set of rules under which to operate.
After the break, a partial transcript of yesterday's press conference in which Jones and Garrett discusses further talent acquisition steps.
Q: Were there not any defensive players that were attractive to you guys, other than [linebacker and] corner?
Stephen Jones: "At the end of the day, if you look at player acquisition it comes in more than just the draft. You do it through unrestricted free agency, you can do it through trades, there's a lot of ways to do it. What we thought about not having free agency ahead of time, it would probably enable us to really follow our board. I think we did that."
"Going in we thought this was a draft that was weighted more towards offense. When we got finished looking at our board we had a lot more offensive players than defensive players. As it turned out, when it came time for us to pick, it was more offense than defense."
"Obviously we can look - when it does come - to unrestricted free agency. We can fill holes in that regard too. I would also say, if you look at last year's draft, in which we had some young guys who didn't contribute last year who might this year, we drafted 4 out of 6 defensive players. If you throw Josh Brent-Price in there then that's 5 out of 7 or you could put Josh in this draft."
"We really felt that at the end of the day we needed to pick the best player on our board. We knew that whatever we didn't fill in terms of needs on our team that we could go into unrestricted free agency and finish up our roster in that regard. I really think it added discipline to our draft and we ended up with the type of draft we want to have."
Q: Your defense did not play well last year. Yet you stayed disciplined, you stayed with your board and didn't go out and reach for defensive guys. Is that a way of saying that since Rob Ryan is the biggest addition to your defense you expect him to pull your defense back to a high level?
Jason Garrett: "We're absolutely excited about Rob coming in here as our defensive coordinator. He was hired for a reason, he does an outstanding job and we expect him to do an outstanding job with our defense. I thought Steven answered it well though. There are different ways you can acquire players in the NFL. The draft is a big part of it, but signing you own players and also signing free agents is a part of it as well."
"The process of acquiring players for our entire football team is not over yet. It's a little different this year because the draft and free agency were flopped chronologically, but that process isn't over. We're certainly happy about Rob and what he can bring to our defense."
Q: Do you expect to be active in unrestricted free agency on the defensive side of the ball?
Stephen Jones: "Certainly we'll be looking there. When we can help our team, we'll do it, and we may not be through on offense either. Once we know the system and we know how things are going to work then we're going to work hard to put the best possible team on the field."
Q: Is it fair to say you have one guy in mind on the defensive side of the ball?
Stephen Jones: "I wouldn't say "one guy" in mind. As I said, you've got to tell me th rules first ... whether it's four years to free agency or six years to free agency. When that happens, we'll identify the players that we think will help make us the best team and then we'll go from there."
"We have guys that we like. I wouldn't say that there's one guy in particular. We have guys, we have players on this team we'd like to re-sign."