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Draft Central | 2024

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Jerry, Stephen discuss trading back and OL needs


FRISCO, Texas — It is officially draft week in Frisco as the Dallas Cowboys gear up to make their currently scheduled seven draft selections along with putting together an undrafted free agent pool that will largely dictate their offseason additions after a quiet free agency period.

Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones, along with son and executive vice president Stephen Jones and head coach Mike McCarthy, spoke in front of the media today to discuss what this week could look like in a draft that has them picking at No. 24 in the first round and six more times across the weekend.

However, don't put those numbers in stone just yet. With the potential to trade back being talked about more and more, Jones sees an opportunity to pick up some middle-round picks – an area where they pick just once between No. 87 and No. 216 – in a first-round trade.

"It's very likely to have an opportunity to do that," Jerry Jones said. "Given the right people left on the board, or the wrong people gone off the board, and the right trade…Really, there's a lot of variables here as to whether you'd go up or down. Obviously, we'd like to have some mid-round picks."

The first round features a wealth of offensive linemen that fit the needs up front for the Cowboys heading into draft weekend after seeing two starters in center Tyler Biadasz and left tackle Tyron Smith depart in free agency. It's not something that is immune to the Joneses' thinking heading into the weekend, either.

"It's great to be drafting a position when there's a lot of them," Stephen Jones said. "Quantity. If you're where we are, of course it's the 24th pick, but my point is if you can go in and it happens to fit need and there is a long number of them in the draft, that's fortuitous. That's a good thing to have happen."

"If you look at attrition, if you talk about where it hits us the hardest," Stephen Jones said. "It's the guys we lost in the offensive line."

A lot of discussion has mulled around which offensive line position the Cowboys would need most. And fortunately for the team and offensive line coach Mike Solari, there is a Tyler Smith up front that can give you flexibility on who exactly is picked with his versatility to potentially go from left guard to left tackle.

For McCarthy, it allows the team to take the best player available instead of reaching at a specific position.

"I think the biggest thing is you've got to take the best player, the best value," he said. "Tyler's flexibility gives us something unique to have. The fact that he's started at both positions at such a young age is pretty special. I look at these players, just say the offensive line room, which player, regardless of the position, do they make the offensive line room better? I have great confidence in our process that if we do select on high, that we'll make the offensive line room better and we'll figure it out."

Also playing into the Cowboys' favor is their track record of drafting first-round offensive linemen with Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, Travis Frederick and Tyler Smith all exceeding high expectations after their arrivals.

"I think the communication is outstanding between our scouting staff and Mike [McCarthy] and his staff, Will and his staff, really in terms of getting on the page as to what we want in a Dallas Cowboy offensive lineman," Stephen Jones said. "There's guys up there that some people have higher than others. Everybody's got an opinion and certainly a feel for what would fit with their group. I just think we do a great job of going through all these guys and really communicating back and forth."

Moving past offensive line needs, getting a starting caliber running back is the expectation coming out of the weekend. But for McCarthy, bringing in a guy that can simply elevate the competition of the room and not have to push the issue on drafting a starter allows for more realism to come into play.

"My God, I hope we can get one of these running backs," McCarthy said. "It would be great to add it to the room. But I don't believe that these draft picks are just absolutely starters. I don't succumb to an 11-man roster because it's not the reality of how this thing works. I think the fact that we're in a 17-game schedule, it's even more exemplified. It's going to take them all to get to where we want to go to."

Regardless of if there is an expectation of draft picks to come in and start or not, the needs of the Cowboys compared to how many picks they currently have run little margin for error for the front office and scouting department.

Despite an inactive free agency period and a puzzling contract extension ordeal, that urgency – at least – isn't lost.

"We're all in with these young guys," Jerry Jones said. "We're all in with this draft."

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