Cowboys’ owner/general manager Jerry Jones spoke with the media Monday for the first time since March’s NFL owners’ meetings. With the NFL draft just three days away, Jones joined head coach Jason Garrett, executive vice president Stephen Jones and director of scouting Tom Ciskowski in a pre-draft press conference that touched mainly on the team’s draft strategies for this weekend.
Here are some of the highlights from Monday’s media session:
- Asked about the possibility of addressing the run game, Jason Garrett stressed the need to draft the best players available at the time, rather than focusing too much on team need.
- “We’ll be open to improving where we are,” was Jerry Jones’ response to the possibility of trading picks during the draft – whether it involved a move up or down the draft board. Jones emphasized the importance of being true to the team’s draft board, regardless of where the Cowboys pick. “There’s enough depth in this draft that you should have your ears open for trades,” Jones added. For more on the idea of trading down, click here.
- Much has been made of Dallas’ switch to a 4-3 defensive scheme. Asked if the transition will affect the Cowboys’ draft strategies, Jones agreed. “We plan to be in this scheme for quite some time,” Jones said. He added that his staff “knows what 4-3 defensive players look like.” The change to a 4-3 scheme will specifically affect which safeties and “especially the linemen” the Cowboys consider. For more thoughts from Jerry on the team's switch to the 4-3, click here.
- As he has said multiple times during this draft season, Jerry Jones said he intends to lean on the input of his scouting department this weekend, as they have worked much longer on this year’s crop of prospects than his coaching staff. Jones did allow that he favors the input of the coaching staff when considering how prospects fit into the current roster.
- Though the Cowboys’ defense needs several upgrades, Jones said the team’s current starting cornerback situation isn’t one he’d trade away. The tandem of
Brandon Carrand Morris Claiborneis anticipated to be the strength of the defense, and it should influence the way Monte Kiffin implements his scheme.
- Garrett reminded the media of another offseason talking point – the Cowboys still hope to get contributions from still-unseen 2012 draftees. Fourth round safety pick
Matt Johnsonand fourth round linebacker pick Kyle Wilberwere mentioned by name as hopeful contributors that Garrett said he feels the staff “still hasn’t really even seen” because of injuries suffered during 2012.
- With changes to the salary cap and rookie contracts after the last CBA, Stephen Jones acknowledged that drafting strategy has changed to maximize the mileage out of draft picks. A much harder salary cap, and the four-year maximum of rookie contracts, means teams need to get as much production as possible out of young players “while they’re still $400,000 or $500,000 players,” as opposed to the salary increases that come with veteran players.