Dallas Cowboys

No first-round pick, no problem. Cowboys happy with Cooper as prep starts for NFL Draft

Stephen Jones doesn’t feel the Dallas Cowboys are without a first-round pick for the upcoming NFL Draft.

“I got one. It’s Amari Cooper,” Jones said with a chuckle at the Senior Bowl last month.

“He’s sitting there ready to go to work and get him in the offseason and get him going. We just made our pick a little earlier, but … I like our pick.”

Yes, every Cowboys fan would agree that Cooper justified the price of sending a 2019 first-round pick to the Oakland Raiders to complete the midseason trade.

Cooper led the team with 725 yards receiving and six touchdowns on 53 receptions in nine games. Those were impressive enough to land Cooper in the Pro Bowl.

And, extended out over a full 16-game season, Cooper would’ve had 1,289 yards receiving and 11 TDs. Most rookie receivers don’t deliver that type of production.

Of course, Cooper is a little pricier and the Cowboys could look at signing him to a long-term deal to avoid his $13.924 million fifth-year option tag next season.

While the Cowboys have no complaints about Cooper, they are in an interesting spot without a first-round pick for the first time since 2009 (a pick they gave up to acquire WR Roy Williams from Detroit).

It puts more of an emphasis of finding impact players in the later rounds, something the Cowboys have done well of late. Two of the top-eight leading tacklers last season were sixth-round picks in safety Xavier Woods (2017) and cornerback Anthony Brown (2016). Quarterback Dak Prescott was a fourth-round pick in 2016, and WR Michael Gallup was a third-round pick in 2018.

Owner Jerry Jones knows as well as anyone that finding talent in the later rounds is a challenge, but something that must be done for the Cowboys to improve next season.

Asked about lacking a first-round pick, Jerry Jones said at the Senior Bowl: “It really makes me work, or be more focused — more pinned down. We’ve got to do a great job on the later picks. We can. We’re going to preach the emphasis. We just talked about that at our scouting meeting here in Mobile. We’ve just got to put a huge, intense effort — not that we don’t — on those later picks.”

The Cowboys’ first pick will be in the second round, No. 58 overall. Right now, they have six picks total (Nos. 58, 91, 122, 155, 186, 219), but should land another fourth-round compensatory pick for losing linebacker Anthony Hitchens in free agency last offseason.

The Cowboys’ have plenty of “needs,” ranging from tight end to defensive tackle to safety to wide receiver. Signs point to them going the “best available” route in the upcoming draft.

As Jerry Jones said, the Cowboys seem “a long way from the outhouse to the penthouse” of going to another Super Bowl. There’s months between now and Super Bowl LIV in February 2020.

“It seems like forever,” Jerry said. “It’s a long way to get there, it’s a year to get back there. That long, long effort and that long deal has a discouraging aspect to it. But that’s the game. That’s what we do.”

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