What if we were to take the Cowboys by their word with regard to what free agency and the draft will look like?
I know, right? That's crazy talk right there. But bear with me for a couple of minutes on this lazy Saturday afternoon.
During the Senior Bowl, Jerry Jones for once was remarkably clear about the direction the Cowboys will take from a personnel point of view. Add some comments by Rob Ryan to the mix, and we get a pretty good idea of where the Cowboys could be headed this offseason.
After the break we look at how Jerry Jones sees the various position groups and how - taken together - they provide an interesting blueprint for what the Cowboys could have planned for the next few months.
Jerry Jones on the core Cowboys personnel:
"Personnel is not an issue in my mind overall relative to us having a good team next year. I think we're going to have - an do have - a core base of personnel that is going to get us there. And again, I say that because I like where were coming back with at our skill positions on offense."
What it means: Forget Mario Williams, forget Calais Campbell, forget all the big-name free agents you've been dreaming about. Last year, the Cowboys brought in free agents and . The year before, they weren't active in free agency at all, and three years ago the free agent crop consisted of Keith Brooking, and .
What all the free agent acquisitions over the last three years have in common was that none of them were what could be described as the cream of the crop of their free agency class. Yes, they were briefly in the hunt for Nnamdi Asomugha, but probably less because of a long-term strategy and more because they got suckered into a bidding war by Asomugha's agent.
If the Cowboys believe the core personnel is in place, they won't be going after big names in free agency.
Jones on the offensive Line:
"We've got tackles who will do better and we'll look and see what we'll do with some of the young guys in the middle of our offensive line.
In personnel, we may have gotten a little overzealous with some young players in the middle of our offensive line. We have to make sure that not only do we give them a chance to grow and progress but that we also have in there the kind of protection we want in the middle for Tony.
I'm into not squandering the prime years of Romo. So we want to make sure we give him every opportunity. And protection is one of those opportunities. And we'll work hard on that in the offseason.
We like Costa, now. But it's a question of combinations in there. If you look at size, if you look at things like that you've got to be careful before all of them are like that, size wise or experience wise, as opposed to having 40% of them like that. So it's more about the mix in there."
What it means: The four Youglies in the middle of the offensive - Costa (6-3, 316, 24 year old), Kowalski (6-4, 301, 23), Arkin (6-5, 307, 24) and Nagy (6-3, 299, 24) - indeed look fairly similar and are of a similar age. If the Cowboys want to improve that mix, they'll bring in a veteran guard or two (Holland, Kosier and Dockery are all options here as well).
And when Jones says they got "a little overzealous with some young players in the middle of our offensive line", that can only mean they are looking for a center.
Jones on the Skill Positions:
"We're not starting out at quarterback, we've got a competitor there. We like a lot of the skill people that we've got around him.
We think receiver is a real strength position of ours and we've got a couple of younger guys that we're real proud of."
You can't help but like the Cowboys' array of receiving talent:
What it means: For the last four years, they Cowboys have only kept five receivers on their 53-man roster. It's going to be really tight for Kevin Ogletree and Jesse Holley this year.
Jones on the Secondary
"I feel good about Scandrick, I feel good about a player like Jenkins. It's not a given, but it wouldn't be a surprise for [Abe Elam] to be on the team.
Over in the secondary we will likely get better and we will very likely get new faces over there. How many, I can't tell you, but we'll have some new faces."
What it means: If the Cowboys can't find a better option, they'll re-sign Elam. Newman and Walker won't return, and Allan Ball's future with the Cowboys also doesn't look good. The Cowboys will likely look for veteran help at corner and draft a boatload of defensive backs in April.
Rob Ryan was very clear on his priorities during the Senior Bowl: "I'm only looking at DBs. Nothing else. DBs."
Last year the Cowboys drafted three linemen, one each in the first, fourth and seventh rounds and further bolstered the roster with an UDFA in Kevin Kowalski and also brought in veteran help in Derrick Dockery. A similar approach this year would not be a surprise.
Jones on the Defensive Line
"We had a couple of young guys that played pretty good in the interior [defensive line] that we're excited about.
Our front is one of the strengths of our team."
What it means: The Cowboys will bring Anthony Spencer back. And while the Cowboys may think the front seven are a strength of the team, we also know that Garrett likes competition more than anything else and getting complacent with a position of strength is not very Garrett-like. Look for more young talent to be brought in to challenge the veterans.
Jones on the Defense in general
"We will get younger [on defense]. Now that's not to say we won't bring in a veteran or two, but we'll get younger."
What it means: Good bye Keith Brooking (36), Terence Newman (33), Kenyon Coleman (32), Bradie James (31) and Frank Walker (30).
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