IRVING, Texas - Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones has been more visible here lately, especially on Tuesday, which marked the 25th anniversary of him purchasing the Cowboys back in 1989.
Jones did a lot of reflecting with stories and memories of the last quarter-century. But the present-day topics were not dismissed and one of them centered on Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, who figures to be a Top-10 pick. But the pressing question most fans and media want to know is if the Cowboys would consider taking him at No. 16 if the former Aggie standout falls that far.
Jones answered that question Tuesday afternoon on the Cowboys' flagship station, 105.3 "The Fan" in Dallas, giving much praise to the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner. But he was quick to point out, the Cowboys already have their franchise quarterback.
"I will be specific: I'm a big fan of his, a serious fan of his," Jones said of Manziel. "But we have Tony Romo. Tony Romo is our ticket. Manziel is ready to go. He can hit the ground running, as we've seen what these clubs over the last few years have done with quarterbacks with unique skills. It's just amazing to see the skill level that he's got and the intensity of competition. I think he's going to be a heck of a player, but we'll never see him. We couldn't get there if we traded three drafts to get him. But, he's an outstanding player."
The Cowboys interviewed Manziel this past weekend at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
"As a football player, as a winner, I think it's highly likely he'll go to a club, since that is the most important position on the (team), and will elevate that club in the NFL," Jones said. "No doubt in my mind that he'll be an outstanding NFL football player."
Cowboys vice president and director of player personnel Stephen Jones said the process to interview Manziel is a standard procedure, and one that can often put a team in position to get a great player if he happens to slide.
"Well, I think any time if you're not prepared – I don't have to look any further than Dez Bryant," Jones said, referring to Bryant getting picked 24th in 2010. "Dez was going to be a top pick and, of course, he fell. You have to be prepared. You never know what people are going to be thinking. To assume a player is going to be picked in the Top 5 is how you get in trouble. We want to know every player as well as we can possibly know them. We want to be prepared, so if an opportunity presents itself that was in our opinion a value that you couldn't pass up, then you have to be prepared. Being prepared is doing all the interviews, getting to know the players, and the guys – if they did fall – we would want to know more about them."
And while no player has owned the collegiate spotlight the past two years more than Manziel, Jones said there is always more to learn about even the most visible of college athletes.
"Johnny Manziel's career speaks for itself. In my opinion, he's one of the great all-time college players that has played the college game," said Jones. "He's obviously very electric. Any time you go in and watch college football, everyone wants to watch him play the game. You have to look at him. If he were to fall, where he would stack up with the other options? In not way saying we're going to interview him because if he falls we would take him. We just have to know if something happens. You have to be prepared." [embedded_ad]
Jones praised the Green Bay Packers for having the foresight to draft Aaron Rodgers back in 2005 with the 24th pick, even with Brett Favre still in the picture. Rodgers sat behind Favre for three full seasons before the Packers ultimately cut Favre and made Rodgers the starter.
But at the end of the day, the Cowboys don't appear ready to pull the trigger on that type of move.
Jerry Jones was quick to point out his overall feelings about the current state of the quarterback position.
"The area that I feel the best about our chances in is at our quarterback, and I feel that way for the next several years," Jones said. "The only exception to that being injury."
Of course, Romo did undergo back surgery to repair a herniated disk in late December, forcing him to miss the Cowboys' season finale against the Eagles. Romo dealt with a back issue last offseason as well when he underwent a procedure to remove a cyst.
The Cowboys are expecting Romo to be back long before training camp, and perhaps in time to participate in the club's summer minicamps, and possibly even the OTA practices. With new passing game coordinator Scott Linehan now in the mix and expected to call plays, getting Romo on the field and learning the new terminology is as important as any offseason move.