IRVING, Texas – He won't have long to rest before the NFL draft resumes, but Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones slept easily Thursday night – by his own admission.
Speaking to reporters after selecting Byron Jones with the No. 27 pick, the Cowboys' top decision-maker said he had addressed his biggest concern on the roster by adding a top-tier cornerback. Whatever decisions are to come in the remaining six rounds of the draft, that addition seemed to put the Cowboys' front office at ease.
"The place where we didn't think we would feel good and sleep right is if we didn't do something at cornerback," he said.
But what does that mean for the remainder of the draft – particularly the high-value picks the Cowboys hold at No. 60 and No. 91 on Friday night? Dallas still has a need for a pass rusher, particularly with Greg Hardy suspended for 10 games. There's also the never-ending link to the running back position after the departure of DeMarco Murray.
The Cowboys had a chance to make a splash by drafting Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory in the first round. Gregory is widely considered to have top-10 talent, but red flags about maturity and marijuana use caused him to drop out of the first night entirely.
Dallas finished the 2014 season with just 28 sacks, but Jones said he didn't feel the need to do something drastic to address the pass rush.
"It just isn't necessary that we reach up there and get one of those more obvious players that can immediately come in, at least on nickel or in pressure situations, and be a starter," he said. "We didn't feel pressured to do that. We felt like we needed to have this secondary guy."
That's not to say the Cowboys couldn't address the situation on Friday – it will be especially interesting if Gregory continues to slip into the second round. But Jones took the time to laud the players currently on the roster, including Hardy and DeMarcus Lawrence, who was selected this time last year at No. 34 overall.
"We have some young pass-rushers that we like," he said. "We could come out of this draft and have improved through Hardy, but also through Lawrence and improved through, potentially, what we've got on campus, so to speak."
As for the oft-discussed future at running back, Jones repeated for the second time in the last week that he thought his team could play the 2015 season with what's on the roster right now. The Cowboys signed veteran Darren McFadden in March, and they managed to hold on to their three returning ball carriers from 2014.
"We think we've got the big back, we think we've got the big-play back in Dunbar, and we think we've got a back in Randle that can do it all," Jones said. "And of course we've got Williams that was on the practice squad."
None of this means much to the eventual draft strategy for Friday night. Jones followed that up by saying he could wind up in a situation "where running back makes sense for us."
What does appear evident is that the Cowboys have already addressed their top concern with six selections remaining. Which makes it an interesting guess where they go from here.
"I can sleep if we come out of this draft without a running back or without a young, rookie pass rusher," Jones said. "We would have had trouble getting a nap if we had come out of here without some help in the secondary."