Dallas Cowboys

5 Draft Day thoughts from Cowboys VP Stephen Jones led by no trade and no surprise pick

Dallas Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones hopped on 105.3 The Fan Thursday afternoon, just hours before the start of the 2019 NFL Draft, which commences with the first round at 7 p.m.

The Cowboys don’t have a first-round pick, thanks to a 2018 mid-season trade with the Oakland Raiders for receiver Amari Cooper.

Among other things, Jones discussed the possibility of the Cowboys moving back into the first round, if any player on the roster was being shopped as trade bait to add picks and shut down thoughts on a surprise pick at 58.

Here are five draft-day thoughts from Stephen Jones:

1. Will the 58th pick be someone who the Cowboys brought in for a pre-draft visit?

“I think there’s a pretty good chance that could happen,” Jones said. “There’s a handful of guys we like that have a chance to be there.”

Pay attention to the list.

Since 2005, the Cowboys have taken just one player with their first pick who didn’t make a pre-draft visit to the team’s headquarters and that was cornerback Morris Claiborne in 2012.

The pre-draft visitors who are projected as first or second round options are safeties Jonathan Abram (Mississippi State), Taylor Rapp (Washington), Juan Thornhill (Virginia) and Chauncey Gardner (Florida), defensive linemen Ben Banogu (TCU), L.J. Collier (TCU), Jaylon Ferguson (Louisiana Tech) and Gerald Willis (Miami), running back Damien Harris (Alabama), receiver Deebo Samuel (South Carolina), tackle Greg Little (Mississippi), and tight end Dawson Knox (Mississippi).

2. Any chance the Cowboys jump back in the first round Thursday night to grab a coveted player that may be falling?

“You never know what’s gonna happen, but more than likely, (today) probably will be a day where we don’t make a pick,” Jones said.

3. Jones said they have no conversations with anyone leading up to the draft about trading a player on the roster to acquire more picks and doesn’t see that happening at all.

“I think we’re happy with our roster. You never say never, but short of something showing up that’s really interesting that we think makes us better,” Jones said. “I don’t really see a situation evolving over the next 24 hours.”

4. The Cowboys are looking hard at safety and Jones acknowledged that finding a sure-tackling strong safety would be more ideal to play opposite rising free safety Xavier Woods than another free safety, though they would take a ball hawk if he was the best player on the board.

Jones said Woods, a former sixth-round pick who the Cowboys had graded as a fourth-rounder, has been “even better than we thought he’d be.” “In a perfect world probably a strong safety is the best fit (to pair with him),” Jones said.

The players that best fit that bill are Washington safety Taylor Rapp and Mississippi State safety Jonathan Abram. Virginia’s Juan Thornhill is a former cornerback with blazing speed. If the Cowboys choose him, they would go with left and right safeties rather than defined roles as free and strong safeties.

5. Jones said the Cowboys are on the hunt for more depth at running back behind Ezekiel Elliott. He said there is a good chance they draft a running back and also sign one in free agency after the draft. He believes some veteran options might get released as teams try to clear cap room after the draft.

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Clarence E. Hill Jr. has covered the Dallas Cowboys as a beat writer/columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 1997. That includes just two playoff wins, six coaches and countless controversies from the demise of the dynasty teams of the 1990s through the rollercoaster years of the Tony Romo era until Jason Garrett’s process Cowboys.