We’ve always known Jerry Jones to be a “wildcatter”. In fact, that’s exactly what Jerry Jones did in order to earn enough money to purchase the Dallas Cowboys some 28 years ago. Everyone knows that you have to take risks in life at some point to get to an ultimate goal. Jerry Jones has certainly taken plenty of risks in his time as the owner of the Dallas Cowboys.
Whether is was trading for the red-flagged Charles Haley, signing the toxic Greg Hardy, to even drafting a player in the second-round of the 2016 draft that nobody is sure will ever play, Jerry is a risk taker.
One spot where the Cowboys seemingly always take some risks has been with the NFL Draft. Just last year, the Cowboys drafted the highly-touted Jaylon Smith out of Notre Dame. Smith would have been a Top-5 player in last year’s draft. The key words being “would have” as he suffered a shredded knee in a bowl game that left him with a case of drop foot.
Now, all prognostications are leading to him playing a significant role for the Cowboys in 2017. However, even though the nerve has reportedly ‘fired’, there is no certainty that he’ll be THE Jaylon Smith that he was.
Smith is certainly not the first risk Jones has taken in his ownership of the Dallas Cowboys. Sean Lee was an injury risk in the second round, the same goes for Bruce Carter. Randy Gregory was a second-round gamble that will be sitting in suspension for the entirety of the 2017 season. Gavin Escobar was a questionable pick a few years ago. Even trading up to the sixth-overall pick for Morris Claiborne was a risk, though most teams saw him as the top cornerback in the draft.
This year, it doesn’t seem as if Jerry Jones will be risking too much. Jerry Jones has said this offseason that he is prepared to be aggressive in order to get the players he wants. In the same vein, he spoke to the Star-Telegram about this year’s draft and seems to have ruled out the possibility of taking redshirt prospects:
“Drafting a player this year that is going to be redshirted high, with some of our needs, that gets problematic a little bit,” Jones said. “Doing a Jaylon this year when we are probably going to get a chance to get a player that’s got a chance to play. We’ve got to play young.”
Stashing redshirt players is nothing new in the NFL; a lot of teams do in hopes it works out the following season. The Cowboys may end up with one of the best drafts in NFL history if Smith returns this season to the player he was for the Irish. Yet, the first rule of business is to evaluate your own team. And though I have stated that the free agency exodus was a long time coming, my colleague, VAfan has a point too:
“Let’s be clear that I’m not advocating that the Cowboys should have re-signed the departed players, especially at the prices they were able to get on the open market.
However, let’s also be clear that while this is just as necessary as when the Cowboys set about remaking the offensive and defensive lines, it’s almost certainly going to be a multi-year work in progress that may experience some success and some failures. Somehow the Cowboys have to hit on their picks as well as they did last year. Will they? It looks like we’re going to find out.”
Jerry Jones has supported both of our takes on the matter. Jerry made it clear he feels the Cowboys can be better in 2017 “we certainly have created more options in my mind than we’ve lost.” On the other hand, with those statements he’s made above, it shows you that he wants to find players that are ready to go now. He believes that there is a real shot or opportunity to improve, even picking at 28th overall or possibly trading in either way:
"Near the bottom of the first, moving toward the top ... this sets up for a little potential trade action to try to gain some value or try to hit an opportunity," Jones said. "I have never looked at where we were when we started a draft and thought we are not going to get a very good player right there. The assumption being that is where you are going to be when you have to make a decision. All that plays out as it unfolds. There are some opportunities (for trades up or down).”
It’s an interesting thought to process for the Cowboys as we’ve become so accustomed to seeing them take a redshirt guy here or a risky pick there. It seems like Sidney Jones at 60 or Jake Butt at 92 may not be options for them. The Cowboys want players that are ready to play but there are two interesting first-round cases to pay attention to. If Jerry Jones is not interested in picking up guys that are dinged up, what does that mean for Takkarist McKinley or Fabian Moreau?
Both prospects are at positions of need, edge rusher and cornerback respectively. Both players could be on the board when the Cowboys pick at 28. Both players could likely to be the best available at their positions where the Cowboys are drafting. Neither player is expected to miss much time with Takk looking at an October return and Moreau should be ready by training camp.
Reading between the lines is Jerry all but saying a 'no' to both these guys if they're available at 28? Is Jerry saying the Cowboys are focused on players that will not only be ready for the season but better be ready by OTA’s? Maybe we’re reading too much into it and both of these guys are still quality selections to consider at 28? We want to know what you make of these comments, let us know.