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Eatman: Seeing A Change Of Guard In More Ways Than One


IRVING, Texas – Say what you want about Jerry Jones calling the shots in the War Room. But something is changing.

Maybe Jerry has altered his approach. Maybe people like Stephen Jones and/or Will McClay have a louder voice than ever before.

We'll likely never know the exact dynamic or if there is any change at all. But the fact is, the results are different.

In years past, the Cowboys take the most electrifying, high-profile player if he falls in their lap. In years past, the Cowboys keep a guy like DeMarcus Ware, who was willing to take a major pay cut, instead of cutting ties with their all-time sack leader.

That's only two moves but it's two huge moves – none bigger than passing up on a player that could've been the quarterback of the future. But it just goes to show Jerry Jones and the Cowboys aren't ready to look that far ahead.

And why would they? They've been a game out of the playoffs for three straight years and have a head coach in Jason Garrett that certainly doesn't have many more mulligans left. The same could also be said for the entire coaching staff.

This is a win-now situation for the Cowboys, who chose not to pick what would've been Tony Romo's immediate backup, and opted to protect Romo's back instead.

No to Johnny Manziel, the electrifying Texas A&M quarterback. Yes, to blue-collar Notre Dame guard Zack Martin.

In the few minutes following the pick, all I saw on twitter and emails was how shocked everyone was that Jerry Jones didn't take the "wow" pick. I can't say I wasn't surprised myself. But to me, passing on Manziel for Martin gave us a few "wows" of our own.

Now, the biggest surprise of all was the Cowboys passed on Manziel for another offensive player.

Yes, I know I've said all spring this team needs defensive help in the worst way. In all of my mock drafts I had a defensive player, including my last one that had Ryan Shazier from Ohio State, who went a spot ahead of the Cowboys to Pittsburgh.

Photos of the Cowboys' 2014 first round draft pick, OT Zack Martin (Round 1, Pick 16).

It sounded like the Cowboys had four players all rated right there close to each other and would've taken either of them at No. 16. Aaron Donald, Anthony Barr, Shazier and Martin.

However, the Cowboys also admitted they were seeking a trade to drop a few spots so it's likely they had some other players in mind and were willing to miss out on Martin for a better deal. But a trade never materialized and the Cowboys were Ok standing pat and taking the first guard off the board.

Sexy pick? Of course, not! I doubt the "71 Martin" jersey will sell like a receiver, or safety or certainly a quarterback.

And yeah, drafting Manziel would've sold a few more season tickets and luxury suites.

You know what else sells tickets – winning football games and making the playoffs. And how can they get over the hump from three straight 8-8 seasons? Obviously a better defense is one answer. But a stout running game is another.

For everyone who thinks the offensive line was so great last year, let's not forget they were a fourth-and-goal conversion from the 10-yard line away from losing to the Redskins and it never goes to the final game. Who knows, maybe the Cowboys change coaches under that scenario. [embedded_ad]

But if the Cowboys don't make that touchdown in D.C., we're talking about the fact they couldn't score on three running plays from inside the 5, including two from the 1. This team still needs a strong push up front and a guy like Martin helps them immediately.

Whether he plays for Mackenzy Bernadeau or Ronald Leary, the Cowboys will make sure there is an upgrade at guard.

Picking Johnny Manziel would've allowed the Cowboys steal the headlines Friday morning. Picking Martin allows the Cowboys to a better football team Friday morning.

How's that for a change?

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