FRISCO, Texas – This is about as plain as the Cowboys' draft situation has felt in quite some time.
Cowboys officials themselves seem to agree. Tuesday afternoon, team chief operating officer Stephen Jones acknowledged that there's only so much that can happen when you're slated to pick 10th overall.
"One of things that is easy with the 10th pick is that there is not a lot of machinations in terms of who might be there," he said. "You pick in the 20s you might be kidding yourself a little bit when you start going through every option."
The Cowboys learned that lesson a year ago, when CeeDee Lamb fell to their No. 17 pick in one of the biggest Day 1 draft surprises in recent memory.
Seven spots higher, at No. 10? It seems less likely. There are only nine teams that can pick in front of the Cowboys. And to hear it from team owner/general manager Jerry Jones, it seems likely to stay that way. Jones did admit that it's never wise to rule anything out. But to be blunt, there just isn't much ahead of the Cowboys that would necessitate a trade higher into the draft order.
"'Up' is in an area that I would say a couple of things are up there, usually," Jones said. "And one of them, we just really made a big effort to get signed up with the Dallas Cowboys at quarterback."
The 2021 quarterback class is easily the dominant topic of conversation in this draft cycle. As many as five of them could be drafted before the Cowboys come up on the clock on Thursday night. As Jones pointed out, those quarterbacks might help eliminate the need to trade up, as they could push this draft's better defenders further down the board to them.
"We've got a good chance to have a top defensive player, the top, or one of the top, be there at 10," Jerry Jones said.
Of course, it's theoretically possible another player could be worth that gamble. Pre-draft whispers have suggested the Cowboys have a high opinion on Florida tight end Kyle Pitts, who is widely-regarded as a Top 5 prospect. Jerry Jones is aware of that as well, however, and seemed to shoot down the idea of giving up assets to draft him.
"We're not going to go in there and spend an inordinate collateral or value to maneuver up there so we can get to him," he said.
That helps to put things into even clearer focus. This is a Cowboys roster with plenty of needs on the defensive side of the ball, and the odds are good that a top-tier defender will be available when they pick.
If anything, perhaps the potential wild card is a trade in another direction. Much has been made about the offensive talent at the top of this draft – quarterbacks, as well as some dynamic receivers and offensive linemen.
It's not out of the question that a team further down the draft board could try to jump up for the Cowboys' pick – and it sounds like it's something that has been considered inside their War Room.
"As far as laying awake at night, wondering what might happen, I find myself thinking about that phone ringing about that time, too," Jones said. "And so, that's a consideration. We are well prepared, I'll say that."
That picture likely won't come into focus until Thursday night, as teams learn who is still available as the first round of the draft progresses. But with just two more days to wait until those picks start happening, it's hard not to feel encouraged about the Cowboys' prospects.
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