Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones stated during the NFL Scouting Combine in February and repeated this week at the owners meetings that his team was likely leaning against taking a quarterback with the fourth overall pick in the draft.
Jones maintains that the Cowboys will approach the pick and the bulk of the draft as if Tony Romo will be the team’s quarterback for the next four or five years.
“I would say that we are not pointing toward the quarterback position,” Jones said. “I wouldn't want to rule it out and sound like I’m hedging. The future will be made with the idea in mind that Romo is going to be the quarterback for four or five years. That begs a lot of consideration in terms of what should you be doing with draft picks as opposed to a backup quarterback.”
Still, the Cowboys will take a developmental quarterback at some point in the draft, which will be held April 28-30 in Chicago.
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Romo, who will be 36 next season and has had off-season surgery in three of the past four years, recently underwent a Mumford procedure to reinforce and prevent future breaks of his left collarbone he fractured twice last season.
The Cowboys will conduct private workouts with all the top quarterbacks in the draft, including first-round prospects Carson Wentz of North Dakota State, Jared Goff of California and Paxton Lynch of Memphis.
The process began Wednesday when the Cowboys left the owners meeting to fly to Orlando to work out Lynch.
The contingent included Jones, vice-president Stephen Jones, coach Jason Garrett. Personnel chief Will McClay and newly hired senior personnel executive Lionel Vital flew in from Dallas to meet them.
Wentz and Goff would be considered options for the fourth pick if the Cowboys went in that direction.
Unlike Jones, coach Jason Garrett said all options are open with the fourth overall pick, including quarterback.
“I always think you want a developmental quarterback on your roster,” Garrett said. “The question is what resources are you willing to use to get those guys.
“We’ve always kind of had structure. Is it worth the first pick in the draft? Is it worth the second pick in the draft? Is it worth going to trade for a young guy on another team? The biggest thing with the draft right now is we’re continuing to evaluate players. You don’t want to get into draft strategy too early.”
Having the fourth pick allows the Cowboys to hone in on a player more so than in the past when they were in the middle or the bottom of the first round, making the private workouts more important.
Dallas will use the private workouts to see the quarterback in a classroom setting, give them information and then take them to the field to see how they respond to hard coaching, Garrett said.
“I think the biggest thing with all players is you’re trying to find out who they are,” Garrett said. “Certainly, you want to find out who they are as players. There are a lot of different ways to do that. You see them at the combine setting, you watch their tape. But if you can get a chance to go be closer to them and get your hands on them and ask them to do specific things you would ask a player to do, I think that gives you a better chance to evaluate the guy.”
The Cowboys saw Wentz and a number of other prospects up close during the Senior Bowl as coaches of the North team. They also talked to several quarterbacks at the combine.
“Great quarterbacks come in all shapes and sizes. I’m not so sure I’ve ever seen a great quarterback who wasn’t instinctive in some way,” Garrett said.