IRVING, Texas – Did you think the money Tony Romo earned this offseason weighed heavily on the minds of the Dallas Cowboys? Apparently, it did.
It might not seem like it in the hours following the conclusion of the draft, as the Cowboys focused on defense with three of their final four picks Saturday afternoon. But from listening to Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones in his post-draft press conference, it's clear the focus this weekend was to improve life for Romo.
"It is a team, and certainly this thing wasn't done just for Tony," Jones said. "We do know this, though: if we can get Tony in a position to have the kind of support in the running game, or if we can get him some options to maybe have a little more time
Oklahoma State running back Joseph Randle highlighted Day 3 of Dallas' draft efforts. The former OSU Cowboy, turned current Cowboy was sandwiched in between selections of William & Mary cornerback B.W. Webb and South Carolina linebacker DeVonte Holloman.
Looking at all seven selections together, though, it's not hard to see the intended benefit for Romo. Four of the Cowboys' picks are not only offensive players, but guys who will come in direct contact with the signal-caller on the gridiron.
To recap: the Cowboys' first and top priority pick was Wisconsin center Travis Frederick, who could very well spend his future snapping the ball to Dallas' franchise quarterback.
"Connected is a good term," said Frederick in reference to Romo. "I'm excited to get a chance to learn from him and learn about reading defenses and things like that. I think he's going to be able to help me out a lot in that area."
Added Jones: "We're going to see a better Romo if things are what we think they are with Frederick."
Picks two and three, San Diego State tight end Gavin Escobar and Baylor wide receiver Terrance Williams, have had Jones salivating all weekend about their potential as mismatches for Romo to use against opposing defenses.
"It's obvious that if Terrance Williams – a big, tough, physical receiver … this guy gives us a real plus over on offense," Jones said.
And of course Saturday brought Randle, who Jones and Garrett hope can earn plenty of handoffs from Romo behind DeMarco Murray and contribute his own skillset to the offense.
"One of the reason we wanted him is because he really mirrors a lot of what Murray is, relative to a complete three-down back," Jones said.
Randle echoed that sentiment himself, stating his ability to help Romo and the offense in more ways than just one.
"I do everything well: running, blocking. I take pride in my blocking," he said. "I take pride in being able to catch and I take pride in being able to make tough yards and make people miss one-on-one. That's just my game in a nutshell right there."
Jones was quick to add that the Cowboys have a much longer laundry list of needs than helping Tony Romo. But it's easy to see the role the quarterback's extension played in this draft. When discussing the merits of safety J.J. Wilcox, the second of Dallas' two third round picks, Jones mentioned how the Georgia Southern product – a former offensive playmaker before his switch to safety -- might benefit his quarterback.
"I'm not going to say we're going to take Wilcox back to running back or back to receiver –certainly he's not that at all," Jones said. "But we know if we can get that ball back and get more turnovers, then we'd be giving Romo the ball."
Wilcox won't be the only one trying to help out on that front. Randle will steal most of the attention among the third day draftees, but the Cowboys opened their Saturday drafting by nabbing a little-known ballhawk in cornerback B.W. Webb. The 5-10, 184-pound William & Mary product projects as a slot cornerback at this stage, though he said he isn't worried by the prospect of special teams. [embedded_ad]
"I'm coming up; I'm throwing my body with this 184 pound frame wherever it needs to go," Webb said. "No matter who is carrying the ball, I'm coming down making those tackles."
With the offense addressed and the secondary stocked, Dallas spent its last pick of 2013 on a continuing trend. Holloman, who closed out the Cowboys' class, gives Dallas nine straight drafts with at least one linebacker taken, dating back to 2005
But while the defense stole headlines in 2012 with the trade for Morris Claiborne, the offense saw the true attention one year later.
A slew of new weapons and "a half second" of protection, as Jones has taken to saying, should make Romo a happy man in 2013. Or at least, that's the hope.