The annual Cowboys pre-draft presser with Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones, and Jason Garrett is usually must-watch online TV. They’re not going to tip their hand exactly but there are little nuggets of information that can be precursors to what happens on draft day. So, what were the important parts that we need to keep in mind for this week?
One common thought that has been floated by national media is that having the Draft in AT&T Stadium means that Jerry Jones is going for the splash move but the owner called foul:
With the draft coming to town, is Jerry Jones going to be tempted to make a splash? Jones smiles and says: "I would not, in any way, impugn the integrity of our decision making in the draft room. I’m not throwing a helicopter in the middle of it."— Drew Davison (@drewdavison) April 24, 2018
Stephen Jones was asked about their approach to free agency and he was happy with the moves they made. With that said, he reiterated his strong belief in the draft and took a shot at teams that don’t draft well:
Stephen Jones on free agency: "We saw that this year, you have to play that when you’re in the penalty box for not drafting well. I just feel strongly that if you draft well you pay your own players and you get them for deals because you do it ahead of time."— Brandon George (@DMN_George) April 24, 2018
With rampant speculation about the Cowboys possibly trading for a certain veteran free safety from the northwest, Stephen’s comments suggest that Dallas will only do so if they get to negotiate a new deal for him:
Stephen Jones was asked a vague, unspecific question about the mechanics of trading for a veteran during the NFL draft. Particularly a veteran who might want a new contract. #cowboyswire pic.twitter.com/evRemJFfn1— David Helman (@HelmanDC) April 24, 2018
The absolute most hilarious moment was when questions turned to the head coach about his use of profanity in the “All or Nothing” series. Jason Garrett did his best to tip-toe around that but Jerry Jones intentionally used Garrett’s favorite word, causing the room to erupt in laughter:
An all-time moment from Jerry Jones, when Jason Garrett was asked about “All or Nothing”, and how Garrett comes off on the show. Both questions were hinting around Garrett’s cursing on the show, and Jones cuts the second question off with “What the f-ck are y’all getting to?” pic.twitter.com/Kj6mX01PAW— Mike Leslie (@MikeLeslieWFAA) April 24, 2018
When it comes to trading, nobody does it better than Jerry Jones. Most scenarios this offseason with trades were moving back, not too much talk about moving up. However, if the opportunity presents itself, the Cowboys are certainly ready to work the phones:
Jerry Jones: "If we get a really outstanding opportunity to do something really special for our team I would be giving that a lot of consideration." Mentioned when they moved up to get Dez Bryant in 2010— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) April 24, 2018
Which would most likely be in the event one of the top talents like Roquan Smith, Derwin James, Minkah Fitzpatrick, or Denzel Ward find themselves in striking distance.
Moving on to discussion about offensive linemen, the Cowboys want to keep the options open which is why they looked at tackles, too. They definitely seem to believe in that “best five” mentality:
Stephen Jones likes the flexibility the Cowboys currently have on the offensive line. Said they're fortunate La'el Collins is versatile. Thinks he can be outstanding at either guard or tackle. Believes Cameron Fleming can play left or right tackle. They will play their best 5— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) April 24, 2018
The Cowboys are pressing the reset button at receiver, Jerry was very clear when he closed the door on any reunion with Dez Bryant, they’re moving on:
With Bryant unsigned, Would Jerry leave the door open for a possible Dez return? “I don’t want to diminish how we feel about Dez as a person..and what he has contributed in the past..but we need to move on.” #NFLDraft2018— Mike Doocy (@MikeDoocyFox4) April 24, 2018
Also mentionable at receiver, the Cowboys showed interest in SMU’s Courtland Sutton, who is built in the same vein of Dez, in that ‘X’ mold. Jerry Jones said that they don’t believe finding a pure ‘X’ receiver will be an option with this class:
Jerry: we recognize that we’ve got a hole to fill with Dez. We know we won’t have a pure X receiver to take the place of Dez.— Kate Hairopoulos (@khairopoulos) April 24, 2018
Linebacker has a been a position of thought lately due to a combination of Anthony Hitchens’ departure, Sean Lee’s injury history, and an unset plan with Jaylon Smith. They also just have an apparent lack of depth at the position. There are some that have advocated getting a linebacker in the first round, Stephen Jones seemed much more comfortable where they are at:
Asked about the team’s LB depth entering the draft, Stephen Jones says he’s really optimistic that Jaylon Smith will take a “big step” in his second year. Did point out there are good LB prospects who can add more depth from all levels of the draft. #cowboyswire— Rob Phillips (@robphillips3) April 24, 2018
The Cowboys have plenty of picks to go after linebackers even though they hardly would pass if one of the top guys came to them. It begs the question though if Stephen is part of the camp that believes they need more value early and linebacker can wait.
So, to recap, here’s the gist of the Cowboys line of thinking with this draft:
- Certainly not forcing a move up but will pounce on opportunities if within reach of a top talent
- They’ll be looking at ‘Z’ receivers which means Calvin Ridley, D.J. Moore, Anthony Miller, and others are all still in consideration and that they don’t view Courtland Sutton as a clone to what they lost.
- Linebacker is a priority but will most likely be addressed after the first round
- They’re playing the five best offensive linemen which means La’el Collins at right tackle is written in lead not ink.
- Trading for a veteran during the draft won’t happen unless the Cowboys get control of the negotiation process. They’re not interested in trading for a guy and letting him play out his one-year contract.