After a tumultuous first day of the draft for the Cowboys, 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 2013 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 20-minute presser right here. As usual, this is a manual transcript of the presser, all mistakes and omissions are mine.
Q: What was the thought process in trading down?
Jerry Jones: We didn’t see a player that we wanted to spend that pick on, the 18th pick. We felt we had options with players that were still available when we made the trade to go to 31. Of course, as always the incentive or lure was to pick up a third-round pick, and end up still with a first-round player that we thought would be as good as the one we got at 18. That was our goal, and that’s what we did.
Q: According to the draft value chart, it looks like the value was for a second-round pick, not a third. Is that accurate?
Stephen Jones: That’s not accurate.
Jason Garrett: That’s not accurate.
Stephen Jones: Not accurate.
Jerry Jones. Yeah.
Stephen Jones: We actually did better than the chart.
Q: What do you like about Frederick?
Jason Garrett: I think there’s a lot to like about him. He’s started at Wisconsin for two and a half years. He started at guard as a sophomore, he started at center this past year so he has position flex.
He’s a smart, tough guy. We use an expression called "make up"; he has the make up as a person. His football integrity and character are outstanding and he’s just a smart, good football player and there was just a lot to like about him.
He was the highest rated player on our board when we took him, at we believe a position of need; getting stronger on the offensive line. We spent a lot of time with him. Coach Callahan went up and worked him out and we’ve spent through this whole process a lot of time [on him]. We felt we knew him well.
He’s just a very good football player, an advanced football player coming out as a junior. Very smart academically in college and just a really solid person to go along with what we think are really good traits as a player to address a need on our football team.
Q: Where do you peg him, as a center or guard?
Jason Garrett: Because he has position flex, and has played a full season at either spot, we feel good about plugging him in at either spot and having him compete with the guys we have on our roster. So we haven’t made that determination right now. We like competition, as you guys know, and he’ll certainly be very much in the mix, having picked him in the first round.
Q: When Denver took Sylvester Williams at 28, did you have any thought that he could have fallen to you at 31?
Jerry Jones: Frankly, to the extent that we could stay within our grades, we put an emphasis on the interior of our offensive line. As coach mentioned, the position flex was unique to Frederick; we had two players there that when we traded down could have been interior linemen for us. They were equal as far as the grade is concerned, and we got one that we were equally as proud to get in Frederick.
Q: A lot of people were surprised that Floyd fell as far as he did in the first round and thought that he would be a great fit for the Cowboys. Why did you not see that as a great fit?
Jerry Jones: Number one, we feel like defensive line is a position of strength for us. Number two, in our system we probably put a premium on a quick-twitch potential 3-technique. We view him as not that - but certainly capable of getting there.
That is a case where in our system, our switch from a 3-4, he was obviously a nose tackle that had a lot of promise there. He’s real good, he’s an outstanding football player, but we were sitting there with some real good grades – and again you’ve got to put our decision making with a real focus on doing something for the interior of our offensive line.
Q: Did you make the call to the 49ers to move back or did they call you?
Stephen Jones: We had visits, as we’ve done in the past, well before the draft. We had a handful of guys that we felt would be real valuable at 18, knowing that there was a pretty decent chance that you could wake up and they’d not be there when 18 came around, that we had done some homework, just as we had done with St. Louis last year and other teams in the past. I’d visited about this a little bit in terms of if our guys, the guys we really valued at 18, weren’t there.
Q: When you had the discussion, was this a hard decision to make?
Jerry Jones: We had gone over probably every scenario you can imagine over the last few days – these guys do a good job of what-ifs – then we analyzed the perspective, we saw San Francisco there with two ones, so they were certainly candidates to move down and still keep us in the range we wanted to be in. I will say that preparation for a possible move down did make for a successful trade here.
Q: You’ve taken two offensive linemen in the last three years. What does that say about the direction you want to go in?
Jason Garrett: If you look at our team and our roster over the last few years, we had a lot of really good football players who played well for us for a long time on the offensive line. But they were older guys; they were guys who made a lot of money and guys we loved having here. But we have had to transition from that group of guys, and you know the names, guys we loved having on our team, but we had to get younger.
We started that process a couple of years ago in drafting Tyron Smith. We feel great about that pick, and we made some moves in free agency last year to try to solidify different parts of our offensive line.
The infrastructure of football teams are your offensive and defensive lines. The best teams in the league are strong up front on both sides of the ball and we feel like we need to continue to get stronger there. That’s going to help our football team. You’ve heard me say it a lot, we need to run the ball better; running the ball better is going to make our offense better; it’s going to make our team better. And we are going to work very hard as an organization to run it better. That’s at the coaching level, but it’s also when you add players up front; we feel like they can help us.
Travis was a guy we spent a lot of time with, we knew him well, we like his strengths: tough, smart, competitive, position flex, all the things he brings to your football team. The kind of guy you want to play on the offensive line for you.
We had the opportunity to get him at 31; we’re excited to have him and add him to our football team.
Q: Are you saying that when the 18th pick came up and you looked up at your board, you didn’t have any first-round rated players there to take?
Jerry Jones: There were first-round players on our grading scale that were there after the 18th pick.
What I said was that to get players at the value that we ended up paying, it allowed us to go down and pick up another football player. We now are ging to be able to get seven football players if we stay where we are, rather than six, and one of them is going to be a third-rounder.
Plus we accomplished one of our goals that we had hoped to in the first round, an that is really improve where we are with our protection; where we are in the middle with our base; where we are getting pushed back in the middle. We felt better about our tackles generally than we do about the middle, and so this player fit us like a glove. And we had him graded right for this pick.
Q: Would you say you had more of a need strategy than a BPA strategy?
Stephen Jones: That’s not right.
Jerry Jones: No. No. Not necessarily. We had needs, but we’ve got needs at safety as you well know, we’ve got needs at other positions.
There happened to be five of these offensive linemen. That makes at least more numbers that you can look at than you might be able to at running back or another position.
Bottom line is we were very true to our grading; very true to the grading of the scouts and very true to what we were trying to accomplish. We did draft to our board.
Stephen Jones: I would also add that’s it’s a real debate as to what’s more valuable: two players or one player.
I thinks that’s what we have to come to grips with as a strategy for our football team when you make that trade: Is the guy we pick at 31 and the player we pick at 74 – when all is said and done - a better deal than what we would have picked at 18? We have to make those decisions for how we structure and how we form our football team.
Were there players that were graded ahead of Travis? Yes, there were. But I don’t know that those players, in our system, would fit better for us versus having two players, one at 31 who is graded in that area and one at 74 who’ll be graded in and around there. And I think that’ll be the true test of time; I don’t think anybody has a crystal ball and can ever tell you. A lot of times it’s going to be right and a lot of times it might not be right.
Q: How tempting was the LSU safety Eric Reid at 18?
Stephen Jones: We thought it was too rich for him.
Q: If you had been stuck at 18, not able to trade down, would Frederick have been your pick?
Jerry Jones: I don’t want to speculate as to where we would be. We were unanimous. It was the smart thing for us to do with all the homework and everything we had done to trade down at that time.
Stephen Jones: Allow me to clarify [regarding Reid]: I think it’s too rich when you consider what you can get for it: 18 and move back and get the 74, which I want to be clear about here.
We felt like that was a better move for us than to just pick away there. We like Reid. I don’t want to imply that we don’t like Reid.
Q: How difficult is it for a rookie to come in and jump around between center and guard?
Jason Garrett: I do think you want to make that decision as early as you can with a player like this. Again, we like his position flex, we like his smarts. He seemd to handle playing two different spots very well. Played very well as a sophomore when he played guard and played well again as a junior playing center. He has experience doing both in the Big 10, so we feel like he’s going to be able to do both.
We want to make a decision; we want to have competition on our football team; we want to have competition on those three interior spots. We have some guys on campus who have played a lot of games for us; we have some young guys who want to get in the mix as well and he’ll certainly be a huge part of it.
And then we’ll just sort out what gives us the best chance to win. Who are our best five guys up there and where should we put them? And you like to do that earlier rather than later, just to give them a chance to play in those spots and play next to each other and get comfortable. I don’t know that you do that tonight, I don’t know whether you do it on day one of OTAs. You kind of play it out a little bit, and you try to use that time as well as you can to make that determination as early as you can.
Q: Do you think Frederick would have been there at 47?
Stephen Jones: Depends on who’s grading him. Some people have him graded one way, some people have him graded another. We certainly had him graded where he could be gone tomorrow at 47.