IRVING, Texas – For 10 minutes during Tuesday's pre-draft press conference, Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett raved about Dez Bryant – what the star receiver means to the Cowboys on the field and in the locker room, as well as his growth as a player and a person.
Five years ago, Bryant dropped out of the top 10 and into the Cowboys' lap at No. 24 due to so-called "character concerns," namely his promptness at meetings and his NCAA ineligibility as a college junior over a meeting with Deion Sanders. The Cowboys did their homework on Bryant and believed they had the right environment and support system for him to succeed.
From questions about attitude or work ethic to serious legal matters, talented prospects with red flags enter the draft every year. The Cowboys' approach remains the same today: They do their due diligence on each individual player and decide on a case-by-case basis whether he could fit in as the "right kind of guy," as head coach Jason Garrett says.
"We believe strongly in culture in our organization and on our football team and we work very hard at that," Garrett said Tuesday. "I think the first thing when you're trying to establish the right kind of culture is, who do you allow in these doors? And you're going to have a better culture if you're bringing better guys in.
"Having said that, if you've done that year after year after year, and you've developed that, you can absorb one of these guys maybe more than you could if your culture wasn't quite as good and you didn't have that quality of character on your team. Having said that, that doesn't give you carte blanche just to bring guys in and say, 'We can absorb it. We can coach it out of them. We'll create the right environment.' These are really, really hard discussions that we have."