Dallas Cowboys keep focus on defense with Boise State player in third round

IRVING -- Vice president Stephen Jones joked that he had to hold a gun to the head of his father, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, at times Friday to keep him from making a deal to get back in the second round of the NFL Draft.

The Cowboys gave up their second-round pick Thursday when they moved from 14th to sixth in the first round to take standout LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, resulting in the antsy Jerry Jones having to wait for 48 players to be selected before the Cowboys could make their third-round pick.

The wait ended when they took Boise State defensive end Tyrone Crawford in the third round with the 81st overall pick.

The last time the Cowboys had to wait that long to make a pick was in 2000, when they didn't have picks in the first or third rounds and their second selection wasn't until the 109th overall in the fourth round.

"Long day, long day," Jerry Jones joked. "We wanted to resist the temptations of loading up because it would have been too heavy of a price to move back in there."

Considering what they got in Claiborne and what they ended up with in Crawford, the Cowboys believe the wait was worth it because of his intensity and potential. Crawford reminds them of Pro Bowl nose tackle Jay Ratliff.

Jones said Crawford was the top player on their board in the third round.

"We are really excited to have Tyrone," coach Jason Garrett said. "We like his potential and the motor in which he plays. He is a high-energy guy. The vision we have for him as an early-down rush guy and then grow into a first- and second-down player at the five technique."

A native of Windsor, Ontario, Crawford attended Bakersfield (Calif.) College to hone his football skills in the United States before transferring to Boise State. He is still somewhat of a project, but he has excellent pass-rushing skills, recording 13.5 sacks in two seasons at Boise State.

The 6-foot-4, 280-pound Crawford admits he is still raw and learning the game but is familiar with the Cowboys and their America's Team image from his childhood.

"I'm super excited," Crawford said. "My perception of the Cowboys was hearing my mom screaming in the background. That's my mom's favorite team. She was crying."

Crawford said he was surprised to be picked by the Cowboys because he didn't have many conversations with them since talking with defensive line coach Joe Baker at the scouting combine.

It was Baker who talked to him on the phone Friday night and told him to come in and be ready to be coached.

"I definitely consider myself a student of the game, and I try to get better every day," Crawford said. "I know they've got a beastly defense. I'm ready to be part of it."

The Cowboys have five picks left today -- two fourths, one fifth, one sixth and one seventh. Jones said the team is open to picking a player from at any position except for cornerback, unless he has the ability to convert to safety.

"We will be right in thick of things with a couple of fours," Jones said. "We are glad to get this big-school high-competition guy right here and would like to carry it on out. I think it's fair [to say that we learned from our mistakes]. You have to look at what you are going to get right now."

Clarence E. Hill Jr.


Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram