Jason Garrett On The Prospect Of Drafting A QB
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett has mastered the art of using a lot of words to say nothing.
Garrett went out of his way during a mandatory news conference at the NFL Scouting Combine to not give away any secrets regarding the team’s draft strategy on the No. 4 pick and whether it will select a possible franchise quarterback for the future.
Never mind that executive vice president Stephen Jones has acknowledged that the Cowboys are studying first-round quarterbacks harder than anytime since the team took Troy Aikman first overall in 1989. Jones said the club is actively hunting for a future replacement for the aging Tony Romo.
“You have to be careful about over-strategizing the draft at this point,” said the professorial Garrett from his perch at the podium inside Lucas Oil Stadium.
It’s very important not to talk draft strategy now — it’s important to evaluate the player.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett
“We came here to get to know the players. You always want to have a young quarterback in your program that you’re developing. For a lot of years Tony was that young quarterback and he was in his prime. We had some other young quarterbacks who we were trying to develop. We’ll evaluate the players in this draft to see if anybody, at any position in this draft, can fit those criteria as we go.
“It’s very important not to talk draft strategy now, not to get into draft strategy now — it’s important to evaluate the player. We’re just getting to know these guys.”
Garrett even took issue with the notion that the Cowboys are taking a harder look at the quarterbacks this year.
“I don’t think that’s an accurate statement,” he said. “We always evaluate quarterbacks every year, just like we do every position.”
The facts and the Cowboys’ having the fourth overall pick, giving them a unique opportunity to pick a successor for Romo, suggests otherwise.
I don’t think that’s an accurate statement. We always evaluate quarterbacks every year, just like we do every position.
Garrett, disagreeing with Stephen Jones that the Cowboys are taking a harder look at quarterbacks this year
Garrett and the Cowboys got an early look at quarterback prospects from the first round to the middle round at the Senior Bowl last month when the staff served as the North coaches.
“We did a get a chance to see four quarterbacks down at the Senior Bowl,” Garrett said. “We thought that was a good thing for us in the evaluation process. That will continue here.
“We will interview a number of the guys over the course of the next few days. We will see them work out. We will go visit them. We will work them out ourselves. ... We don’t want to talk about who we are picking when.”
At the Senior Bowl, the Cowboys got a close look at North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz, Southern California’s Cody Kessler, Stanford’s Kevin Hogan and Louisiana Tech’s Jeff Driskel.
Wentz is widely considered one of the top two quarterbacks in the draft along with California’s Jared Goff, with Memphis’ Paxton Lynch checking in third.
Now the Cowboys will get to analyze them side by side at the combine.
“There is a lot to like about [Wentz] and the other quarterbacks we got a chance to spend some time with down there,” Garrett said. “Rarely do you get a chance to spend six days with these players. We saw them on the practice field. We saw them in meetings. We saw them in game situations. It’s a really important piece of evaluation. I really feel like we handled it the right way as a coaching staff — and took advantage of it, not only with Carson but the other quarterbacks.
“That was a piece of it. This is a piece of it. We will get a chance to see them throw in a workout setting relative to some of the other guys. We will get a chance to visit with them in interviews. Each of those guys you have to delve into.”
We value instincts. The best quarterbacks, regardless of what shape or size that they come in, are instinctive.
Garrett on how he evaluates a quarterback
The more Garrett talked, the more he revealed the intense focus the Cowboys are placing on the quarterback position this year. He also gave his own unique insight into what he looks for when evaluating potential prospects.
“I think the evaluation with every player starts with the guy himself,” said Garrett with a definite passion for the topic. “Who is the guy? How important is football to him? Does he have a passion for the game? Can he function in a team environment? What’s his personal character? What’s his football character? The makeup of the guy is critical, particularly critical at that position.”
He added to it: “Then there are so many physical traits that you need. You obviously need to throw the ball. You need to be able to move. We value instincts. The best quarterbacks, regardless of what shape or size that they come in, are instinctive. They play the game the right way with a natural feel. You can go back through history and look at that. You try to evaluate as best you can and bring the one to your team you think can help.”
There is no question the Cowboys will use the 2016 NFL Draft to bring one to the team. What is not clear is which one and in what round.
But as Garrett said, that process is just starting and that’s why the Cowboys are at the combine.