Free agent haul gives Cowboys flexibility for draft

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Owner Jerry Jones said he thinks the Dallas Cowboys did so well in free agency that they will be open to pretty much anything in the 2012 NFL Draft, including drafting a premier player at No. 14 overall or trading out of the pick.

"Because of how well we did in free agency, we will be able to draft or trade," Jones said.

More to the point, especially when it comes to an offensive lineman, Jones said the free agent signings of guards Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau have the Cowboys inclined not to take an offensive lineman in the first round. Stanford guard David DeCastro has been a popular pick for the Cowboys on mock drafts, but now they may have to readjust.

"We probably wouldn't prefer that," Jones said. "I wouldn't. That would keep us from maybe having to pick a top player there in the first round on the offensive line. It left us totally flexible there."

The signing of cornerback Brandon Carr to a five-year, $50.1 million contract will not preclude the Cowboys from taking a cornerback in the first round, Jones said.

Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick and North Alabama's Janoris Jenkins are likely candidates.

"It's just that's a premium position," Jones said. "So I don't have an aversion at some positions [like] a special, pressure player, a really good deal at corner for where you are in the draft."

Jones said the way the draft is shaping up, it's likely that the Cowboys will take a defensive player in the first round.

He said he is impressed with Memphis tackle and NFL Scouting Combine phenom Dontari Poe, who could play nose guard, end or defensive tackle.

"He looks good," Jones said.

Troy vs. Tony

Cowboy owner Jerry Jones and Chargers coach Norv Turner weighed in on the Tony Romo-Troy Aikman debate stirred up last week when the Hall of Famer and three-time Super Bowl champion magnanimously said that the current Cowboys quarterback was better than he ever was.

Jones respectively disagreed with his former quarterback regarding his current one.

"We all know Troy does his homework and is very contentious and doesn't deal in lilies, but to me he's being gratuitous and he's being modest," Jones said. "I've gotten three Super Bowl rings because of what he's about. I have a little hard time making the same comparison that he did."

Turner, who was the offensive coordinator on Aikman's three title teams and who has faced Romo as an opponent, intimated that there is no debate.

While Romo is on pace to surpass most of Aikman's numbers and rewrite the Cowboys' record books, Turner said his former pupil got it done when it mattered most: late in games and in the playoffs.

Romo has one career playoff win.

"It's not anything against Tony Romo or any devaluation," Turner said. "There are guys who make special plays when the game's on the line, plays that make the difference between winning and losing. That was Troy's greatest strength."

Clarence E. Hill Jr.


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