Dallas Cowboys owner coy on draft, but four players circled in first round

IRVING -- The Dallas Cowboys finally held their league-mandated, pre-draft news conference on Wednesday -- one day before the three-day NFL Draft begins with the first round today.

And after 35 minutes of a formal news conference and roughly 10 minutes of walk-off questions, grinning owner Jerry Jones quipped, "Just 'cause I said it don't make it so."

That summed up the real value of anything learned on Wednesday.

The bottom line is that the Cowboys have put everything to bed and have no intention of giving any real secrets the day before.

They have a plan in place for the 14th overall pick in hopes of getting an impactful player or players, who, combined with what they accomplished in free agency, will help the Cowboys break their two-year playoff drought in 2012.

"This is going to be a part of and needs to be a part of what we are going to be on the football field this fall," Jones said.

According to a source, the Cowboys are targeting four players at No. 14 -- Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, Stanford guard David DeCastro, Alabama safety Mark Barron and LSU defensive end Michael Brockers.

Simply put, it will be either DeCastro or a defensive player for the Cowboys' pick today.

Of course, that's if they stay put.

Jones is open to moving up if two or three players fall within range, namely Cox or LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, according to a source. Claiborne is expected to go in the top five.

"Yes, that is a possibility," Jones said. "I don't want to say one player. But there are players we would go for."

He is definitely open to moving down in the draft if he got the right offer to add value. Jones said he's already received calls and made calls about potential trade scenarios.

With the growing possibility of Cox, DeCastro and the fast-rising Barron being off the board by the time the Cowboys pick at 14, taking the best player or trading back and trying to add value are huge options.

The Cowboys say they can take a player at any position, because they don't see a glaring need.

"No," answered scouting director Tom Ciskowski, when asked if the team had any holes. "We've got some depth at some positions and I just think even if we're not drafting today, we can go play tomorrow. I think Jerry alluded to that that we're just going to try and find the best football players that we can get regardless of the position to help us."

Jones said the Cowboys will go into the draft as if they have needs at every position and will not be held hostage by position.

Jones said a month ago that they would likely go defense with the 14th pick because of the signing of two guards in free agency, which seemed to rule out DeCastro.

On Wednesday, he and the Cowboys lauded DeCastro, who could play guard or center, as the right kind of player.

Still, the bigger needs for the Cowboys are on defense, which gave up more passing yards in 2010 and 2011 than in any other two-year span in team history.

They could use impact players at safety, cornerback, pass rushing linebacker and the defensive line.

Even Jones acknowledges that the way the draft is stacked they have a chance to get a really good defensive player at 14.

The key for them is to not repeat mistakes that have plagued them in the past.

Consider that the Cowboys will have just seven starters in 2012 from the past five drafts combined. Eight of 26 draftees from 2007-2009 are still on the team, including three of 12 from the 2009 draft.

"If we just don't make mistakes here, as much as anything, we have a chance to really come out of here with some players who will be on the field this fall -- defensively," Jones said.

Of course, just 'cause he said it doesn't make it so.

Clarence E. Hill Jr.


Twitter: @clarencehilljr

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