Dallas Cowboys

Greg Hardy’s suspension won’t affect Cowboys’ draft plans, Stephen Jones says

Stephen Jones says defense remains Cowboys’ focus going into next week’s draft. (Star-Telegram/Khampha Bouaphanh)
Stephen Jones says defense remains Cowboys’ focus going into next week’s draft. (Star-Telegram/Khampha Bouaphanh) Star-Telegram

The Dallas Cowboys felt they addressed their need for an impact pass rusher when they signed troubled defensive end Greg Hardy earlier this offseason, but those plans went awry when the NFL slapped Hardy with a 10-game suspension Wednesday.

Hardy is appealing the suspension and ultimately could see the number of games reduced. Still, it puts the Cowboys in an interesting spot going into next week’s draft, but executive vice president Stephen Jones said Hardy’s suspension will not affect their draft plans.

“What we want to do is get the very best players we can get to improve this football team,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan on Friday. “Obviously defense is a focus. We’ve been upfront in saying that defense is our focus. At the same time, we think we’ve made all the moves we’ve needed to in free agency to really solidify our football team.

“Hopefully the draft will serve as a tool to make us better and give us more depth and make us a more solid football team.”

Adding pass rush depth remains a priority, of course. The Cowboys had only 28 sacks last season, and failed to get much pressure on Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers in their NFC divisional round loss. They tried to address the need last year by using a second-round pick on DeMarcus Lawrence, but he missed more than half the season after fracturing his foot in training camp.

Cornerback is another pressing need with Orlando Scandrick unhappy with his contract situation, Morris Claiborne’s health status and the possibility the team asks Brandon Carr to take a pay cut. Offensively, the Cowboys need a running back with the departure of DeMarco Murray in free agency.

But Jones said the team is still in the process of finalizing their board and are at a wait-and-see spot with how the draft unfolds with the 27th overall pick.

“When you pick this late in the draft, it’s very difficult to project,” Jones said. “You have to be willing to play option quarterback, if you will. Our goal at the end of the day is to be as efficient as we can with where we pick our players. That could mean moving -- moving up, moving down -- all those things are a possibility as we try to maximize the draft in terms of making us a better football team for 2015.”

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @drewdavison