Jerry Jones uttered two words that stood out more than any others in his opening remarks during a pre-draft news conference Monday: staying put.
What? No trade talk?
This is an owner who has traded up for players such as Morris Claiborne and DeMarcus Lawrence. This is an owner who has traded down and accumulated more picks for players such as Travis Frederick and Terrance Williams.
This is an owner who spoke about trying to get back in the first round a year ago to take quarterback Paxton Lynch. Jones openly lamented that missed opportunity, but it all worked out.
The Dallas Cowboys had their best draft in recent memory and didn’t make a single trade. They landed cornerstone players Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott, and found starting-caliber defensive players such as Maliek Collins and Anthony Brown in the middle rounds.
Maybe that’s why Jones is thinking about holding onto the 28th overall pick in this year’s draft. It’s a deep draft pool that is heavy on two areas of need for the Cowboys: secondary and pass rush.
“This is a real good year for staying put,” Jones said. “I don’t know if it’s because we need so many good football players or because there are some good football players there, especially in those early rounds. But in my experience, it’s wasting your time to talk about what you might do trading in the later rounds.
“As far as value, what opportunities we might have there, you don’t ever want to predetermine what you’re going to do. But certainly if you stay there we will have an opportunity to really help our team, in my view.”
That’s because this draft sets up well for the Cowboys. As stated, there are several pass rushers who could fall nicely to the Cowboys late in the first round.
They’d love to see a defensive end such as Tennessee’s Derek Barnett drop, although that might be wishful thinking. Barnett is projected by some as a top-10 talent.
More realistically, the Cowboys would possibly be choosing between Missouri’s Charles Harris, who had nine sacks a year ago, or UCLA’s Takkarist McKinley, who had 10 sacks.
But if a guy such as Barnett is slipping, Jones and the Cowboys could rethink their position of staying put. They’ve traded up in the first round before.
They’ve had successes such as wide receiver Dez Bryant in 2010, and whiffs such as Claiborne in the 2012 draft.
“We’ve certainly kept our options open,” Jones said. “We will play as we see it as we move down.”
Trading down has worked out for the Cowboys, too. In 2013, they traded the 18th overall pick to San Francisco for the 31st overall pick (Travis Frederick) and an additional third-rounder (Terrance Williams).
The Cowboys are in an interesting spot, though, because it’d be tough to move down from No. 28 and stay in the first round where they’d have a fifth-year option on their pick.
On the other hand, the Cowboys would like to accumulate higher picks where they’d be able to get more talented players to fill their multiple needs.
But, as Jones said, staying put isn’t a bad option. Among players who were picked No. 28 include Hall of Famers Darrell Green (1983) and Derrick Brooks (1995).
“There are players there, players that we need, players I think can help us immediately,” Jones said. “That will rule the day.”
Added Executive Vice President Stephen Jones, “I think it is a great draft to be staying put in terms of picking who is there when your time comes there.
“I do think the draft sets up good for us.”
82nd NFL Draft
- Philadelphia Museum of Art
- Selections: Round 1, 7 p.m. Thursday; Rounds 2-3, 6 p.m. Friday; Rounds 4-7, 11 a.m. Saturday
- TV: ESPN/ESPN2 and NFL Network
1. Cleveland Browns
2. San Francisco 49ers
3. Chicago Bears
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
5. Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles Rams)
6. New York Jets
7. Los Angeles Chargers
8. Carolina Panthers
9. Cincinnati Bengals
10. Buffalo Bills
11. New Orleans Saints
12. Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia Eagles)
13. Arizona Cardinals
14. Philadelphia Eagles (from Minnesota Vikings)
15. Indianapolis Colts
16. Baltimore Ravens
17. Washington Redskins
18. Tennessee Titans
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
20. Denver Broncos
21. Detroit Lions
22. Miami Dolphins
23 New York Giants
24. Oakland Raiders
25. Houston Texans
26. Seattle Seahawks
27. Kansas City Chiefs
28. Dallas Cowboys
29. Green Bay Packers
30. Pittsburgh Steelers
31. Atlanta Falcons
32. New Orleans Saints (from New England Patriots)