IRVING, Texas (105.3 THE FAN) – Over the course of Tuesday’s hour-long pre-draft press conference at Valley Ranch, Dallas Cowboys big-cheese Jerry Jones sat in the middle of the dais flanked by lieutenants Jason Garrett and Stephen Jones.
Garrett and Stephen spent their time alternating between a) solemnly answering questions while revealing very little and b) giggling at Jerry’s unique penchant for shoveling horse manure auditory at the audience while…also revealing very little.
At one point, Jerry Gibberish actually produced the phrase, “Does not appear unlikely,’’ using the sort of twisted Pretzel Logic that actually might come in handy for a team trying to keep its secrets.
Were there any grains of truth in what the Cowboys’ braintrust had to say at the press conference, or later, behind the scenes?
A few grains, yes.
While it was surely Jerry’s intent to be non-committal about using his No. 16 overall pick on Johnny Manziel, his seeming support for veteran Tony Romo caused him to keep speaking long after he pledged to stop.
“We would not speculate specifically about any player,’’ said Jerry and he could’ve stopped there. … but simply could not.
“It is not our primary goal in the first round to be looking at a quarterback,” Jones said. “We’ve got a good one (in Romo). That’s not a primary need for us. … I’m not that gunned up at what a rookie quarterback could do for us this year … that takes time. This isn’t rebuilding time. We need Tony’s good health to get there, but in my view, he’s our best shot.”
As Jones spoke, Cowboys players were involved in the start of workouts at team headquarters. Romo, recovering from a back surgery, was in fact participating, taking his turn in the QB rotation while throwing lightly. (Worth noting: Backup QB Kyle Orton was not present at the voluntary workouts, apparently weighing his future options.)
The Cowboys believe defensive-line help can be there at 16, they haven’t ruled drafting a receiver high, and they are well-aware of the benefits of trading down in what seems to be a deep draft. Stephen Jones said the team’s “big board’’ is all-but complete and he and Garrett both spoke on the desire to not look at late-round picks as “throw-ins’’ – referring to the idea that Dallas’ bonanza of six seventh-round picks might actually be used on six actual prospects rather than for move-around trades.
Garrett said prospects with behavioral issues are being judged on a case-by-case basis and I’m told this applies to standout 1-technique defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, who has a second-round grade at a position Dallas doesn’t especially value … but with a failed drug test could be a steal later if he stays on Dallas’ board (rather than being scratched or “in the box.’’) I’m told that for now, Jernigan is not in the box in the Dallas war room.
Garrett stressed the importance of picking quality players over picking to fill needs, something that if done this weekend can alter Dallas’ identity.
“8-8,” Jerry Jones said sharply, no room for gibberish here.
Where are they headed?
“Better than 8-8,” he said. “We can get better than 8-8. We are hell-bent to change that.’’
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