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Draft Notebook: Witten Update, What’s Next at Safety, QB Competition & More

FRISCO, Texas - Lost in the shuffle of a busy Saturday was that the Cowboys are still waiting on word from Jason Witten, who is reportedly considering retirement.

On Friday afternoon, Jerry Jones said Witten was taking the weekend to consider whether he wanted to retire and begin a career in broadcasting.

Asked about it Saturday after the draft, Jones reiterated that position.

“We still don’t know Jason’s decision. I don’t, he said. “That’s his decision. He’s got the time to make it. He deserves to make that. So I don’t have a timeline on it, and I do know that when we left, he certainly thought he wanted the weekend to come to some conclusion.” (David Helman)

  • Regardless of Witten’s decision, the Cowboys addressed their concerns at the tight end position by drafting Stanford’s Dalton Schultz in the fourth round on Saturday. Asked about the uncertainty with Witten’s situation, Schultz said he didn’t know the full extent of the details – but he added that he would love to have Witten in the locker room as a mentor. (David Helman)
  • Sometimes staying put is the best course. On Day 2, the Cowboys had cursory discussions about taking wide receiver Michael Gallup at No. 50. They didn’t and got him in the third round 31 picks later. Saturday, their first pick in the fourth round – Kansas defensive end Dorance Armstrong – was a guy they thought about trading up for Friday night late in the third round. They stayed put again and ended up drafting Armstrong, a talented edge rusher who posted 10 sacks two years ago, later than expected. With the extra fourth-rounder they didn’t have to give up for Armstrong, the Cowboys selected versatile Stanford tight end Dalton Schultz, who can help replace some of the dirty work James Hanna did for the last several years. (Rob Phillips)
  • For the first time since 1999, the Cowboys went through an entire draft without taking one defensive back. A big reason for that was last year’s draft when they took three cornerbacks and a safety. But it was rather surprising to have 10 picks (although they only picked nine) and never drafted either a cornerback or safety. (Nick Eatman)
  • The Cowboys did not draft a safety, perceived to be one of their larger needs entering the week, but they’ll continue to evaluate that position as the offseason goes on. Byron Jones is expected to move to cornerback, leaving Xavier Woods and Kavon Frazier as the primary safety candidates next to Jeff Heath. “I don’t know that we need numbers. I don’t think that’s the issue,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “We’ll obviously fill that in college free agency. I think the bigger question is, can we find a guy that can really compete with Xavier. I think at the end of the day, that was the goal in the draft and it didn’t work out that way. We’ll continue to look at options as we move forward and continue to see what happens within our roster. We do have corners that can play that position.” (Rob Phillips)
  • In drafting Western Kentucky’s Mike White, the Cowboys likely created some competition for the backup spot to Dak Prescott. White should be able to compete for snaps with Cooper Rush. And Jerry Jones made it rather clear he’s not interested in signing a veteran to take snaps away from the younger guys in the preseason.
    “Preseason snaps are precious. So, I want it to be a young player, not a veteran player, getting those snaps so we can see Rush in action and see what they’ve got and evaluate,” Jones said. “But I want our depth at quarterback to be developing at the same time. The big reason that the quarterback was appealing to us was because he steps up and we will play – we have to play him – when it comes time to who’s in the ball game in the preseason, or God forbid, the regular season.” (Nick Eatman)
  • The Cowboys’ coaching staff got a closer look at defensive tackle Jihad Ward at the Senior Bowl back in 2016 and thinks he can be a good fit in this scheme, either at 1-technique or the 3-technique.“We like his movement inside and we feel like he’s capable of doing both,” Jason Garrett said. “We did spend some time with him down in the Senior Bowl when he was coming out for the Draft. We feel like he fits in our scheme of being an up the field pressure guy. A guy who can disrupt the running game and affect the passer in the passing game at whichever spot. We feel he has the traits to do both.” (Nick Eatman)
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