Gil LeBreton

Cowboys pick Mayor Jones to help mend secondary

Byron Jones, left, with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, was dubbed “Mayor” by his UConn teammates after he served an internship over the summer for a Connecticut congressman.
Byron Jones, left, with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, was dubbed “Mayor” by his UConn teammates after he served an internship over the summer for a Connecticut congressman. AP

When in doubt — morally, contractually and, maybe most of all, positionally — it’s never a bad idea to draft the best available future congressman.

How could the Dallas Cowboys go wrong in selecting Byron Jones — started as a safety in college, moved to cornerback, interned during the summer for a Connecticut congressman?

You want references? Former Cowboys assistant Paul Pasqualoni was Jones’ head coach at UConn.

You want numbers? Jones’ standing long jump — 12 feet, 3 inches — at the NFL Combine became an online viral hit.

“We probably knew as much about this player as anybody in the draft,” owner Jerry Jones said Thursday night.

Knowledge is power, they say. But shutting up and listening can be even more powerful.

Owner Jones now chuckles about being talked out of drafting Johnny Manziel a year ago. Heeding his aides’ advice paid off with Pro Bowl guard Zack Martin. It was a powerful and provident decision.

On Thursday night, the devil in the room was presumed to be Nebraska pass rushing specialist Randy Gregory. Failing the drug test at the NFL Combine is never a sign of canny intelligence, but Gregory’s other alleged off-the-field issues made him a murky pick.

When the NFL’s first round concluded, Gregory’s name still hadn’t been called.

When you’ve recently signed a guy who roughed up his girlfriend and who is facing a 10-game suspension, and when your roster already boasts an underwear shoplifter and a guy whose drunken driving killed a teammate, you can’t afford to be trawling for No. 1 draft picks on the wrong side of the street.

“We brought him in early and got an up-close view of him,” head coach Jason Garrett said.

“He also has a chance to play early.”

As Owner Jones conceded, there are concerns within the Cowboys’ secondary. Like Mo Claiborne, who is mending from yet another injury and has yet to show why he was worth moving up in the 2012 first round to select him.

And like Orlando Scandrick and Brandon Carr, whose contract situations remain unresolved.

Opting for a cornerback-safety over Gregory, in that regard, made sense.

“We had [Gregory] ranked high on our board,” Owner Jones said. But the Cowboys didn’t want to reach.

“Having brought in [Greg] Hardy, the idea that Byron could potentially be a corner and also was an excellent free safety,” Jerry said, “that was an ideal fit as far as positions for us.

“We were never tempted to do any moving around for any player up there.”

It is way past time for the Cowboys to find out, once and for all, what they have in Claiborne. The not-so-subtle message being sent Thursday, however, was that Mo has very little “Mo” time.

The Cowboys have had an eye on Byron Jones for awhile, the owner said. But it was at the February combine that Byron set an official “world record” for leaping 12-3 with a standing start. During the same skill testing, he vertically leaped 44.5 inches, nearly breaking the combine record in that.

And, oh yeah, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds.

When it doubt, it’s never a bad idea to draft the best available best athlete.

The newest No. 1 draft pick comes from a solid family background in Bristol, Conn. His dad is a retired state trooper. He has three older brothers, who he says have all been a positive influence.

Jones was impressive enough that he was nominated to help his local congressman last summer. His UConn teammates nicknamed him “Mayor.”

Yep. When in doubt, avoid the dumbbell who failed the drug test at the NFL Combine.

Pick the mayor.

It was a powerful pick, Owner Jones.

Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697

Twitter: @gilebreton

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