With just a month to go until the 2022 NFL Draft, teams around the league are working hard on getting their plans ready. Boards are being built under tight security. No one wants the competition to know their plans. This year the quarterback group is seen as weak, which means that there is no obvious player for teams to go after at the top of the first round. It is advantageous for each team to keep their intentions hidden to make sure other franchises can’t move ahead of them for a coveted talent. Obviously, none of them are going to reveal what they are planning, especially in the first round.
Except, of course, the Dallas Cowboys. Owner and titular GM Jerry Jones has already laid out their general plan of attack at the NFL owner’s annual meeting.
Will the Cowboys select an offensive lineman early in next month’s draft? Team owner Jerry Jones: “Famous last words: We’ll get one unless Lamb or Parsons is there.” pic.twitter.com/BKNZM1NNM0— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) March 28, 2022
This is very consistent with the loose way Jones and his organization have dealt with the draft for several years. In 2016, they clearly tipped their hand with their obvious desire to take Ezekiel Elliott fourth overall. The next year, it was reported in advance that they were more interested in Taco Charlton than they should have been. In 2018, they once again were too loose with their interest in Leighton Vander Esch. After not having a pick in 2019, they had CeeDee Lamb fall into their laps, which turned into a rare surprise for them as WR was not seen as a need at the time, breaking the pattern a bit because it did not reflect what most thought they would do. But that surprise was due to the team having indicated they were planning on a defensive pick. Then last year, they made no bones about wanting one of the top cornerback prospects. But the Carolina Panthers grabbed Jaycee Horn with the eighth pick while the Denver Broncos took Patrick Surtain immediately after. This forced the Cowboys to take Micah Parsons as a consolation prize. While that turned out far better than any of us dreamed, it was still not the poorly concealed plan.
Information security surrounding the draft has long been a weakness for Dallas. The most infamous instances of them revealing details about their process were the boards deciphered here at BTB in 2013 and again in 2016. While those kinds of manual boards may no longer exist as the team has moved things to digital formats, those two instances were seen as a bit of a coup because that kind of information was much more closely guarded by other teams. Likewise, the kind of casual revelation Jones just made is not the league norm by any means. Now they may be setting up a vulnerability. The two most likely targets for them would seem to be OGs Kenyon Green of Texas A&M (already reported as one of their 30 pre-draft visits) and Boston College’s Zion Johnson. They also would probably be thrilled to get Ikem Ekwonu from North Carolina State, but most predictions have him gone long before the Cowboys go on the clock at 24.
Putting this out in the media could be a problem for Dallas. If there is another guard-hungry team a few spots behind them in the order, that competitor could be willing to trade up and take one of the coveted players from them. It also could tip the scales for a team like the Green Bay Packers that currently hold picks 22 and 28, bracketing the Cowboys. They are not seen as having a great need for a guard, fortunately, but it still illustrates the disadvantages of Dallas having such a loquacious owner. One case where another team made what was believed to be a move to get ahead of the Cowboys, albeit in the second round, was 2018, when the Cowboys’ beloved rival the Philadelphia Eagles traded to get just in front of Dallas to take Dallas Goedert. Most of the Cowboys’ fan base do not think they were really interested in a tight end at that point, and they went on to take Dalton Schultz in the fourth round for what turned out to be a future starter as a much more cost effective pick. It still shows how what another team believes about intentions can drive moves.
Now Jones is at it again. Hopefully it will not cost them in the draft, but knowledge is power. Giving this kind of information gains nothing and can wind up costing a player they need. It is just par for the course at the Star, unfortunately.