IRVING, Texas – Every year during the week of the NFL Draft, Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones sits up at a press conference, usually with the head coach and director of player personnel, to discuss the upcoming draft, without revealing much of anything in terms of strategy or preference.
Tuesday, Jones sat next to Jason Garrett and son Stephen Jones and basically left all options open for Thursday's start to the draft, which has the Cowboys currently selecting 16th in the first round.
It took about 10 minutes before Johnny Manziel's name was mentioned by a reporter, who asked Jones if the Texas A&M quarterback would be an option for the Cowboys if he somehow fell to the 16thspot.
Without dismissing it completely, Jones said there will probably be better avenues for the Cowboys to take than picking Manziel or any quarterback for that matter.
"We would not speculate specifically about any player. I will go as far – it is not our primary goal in the first round to be looking at a quarterback," Jones said. "We've got a good one, I want to say better than that. … That's not a primary need for us."
When pressed by another reporter why quarterback isn't a higher priority considering Tony Romo is coming off his second back surgery in two offseasons, Jones was blunt this time.
"I'm not that gunned up at what a rookie quarterback could do for us this year … that takes time," Jones said. "This isn't rebuilding time. As a look down the future? Yes. As for coming in here and helping us win games right now, those odds are too far for me to get excited about. We need Tony's good health to get there, but in my view, he's our best shot."
Check out some photos from Johnny Manziel's workout in College Station.
Even with Romo dealing with back issues, backup Kyle Orton missing all of the voluntary workouts so far, and the only 100 percent healthy quarterbacks being Brandon Weeden and Caleb Hanie, Jones still said quarterback was "a position of strength" for his current team. And that alone is likely reason enough not to take a quarterback on Thursday.
"I'm not going to go into what we're going to do in the first round, period," Jones said. "It's logical that your position of strength on your team would certainly not qualify for the most need for the first or second early rounds. It does not qualify for the biggest needs."
Now, if Manziel or a Blake Bortles from Central Florida were to fall to the Cowboys' spot at 16, Jones said the better route for his team might be to seek a trade partner for someone willing to grab that spot.
"You've got to take a look if a tremendous talent starts getting near you," Jones said. "Then all kinds of options come to bear that give us an opportunity to do some things that would help our team better than stacking us up at quarterback."
The Cowboys have done that twice before in the last 10 years, trading out of the first round for a team to get a quarterback. In 2004, the Cowboys traded their first-round pick to Buffalo so the Bills could select Tulane QB J.P. Losman, giving Dallas a first-rounder in 2005. That happened again in 2007 when the Cowboys traded with Cleveland, who wanted a falling Brady Quinn. That gave the Cowboys an additional first-rounder in 2008.
While it appears the wild card of the position is Orton, who has not only hinted at retirement this offseason but hasn't shown up for workouts, Jones said his status has no effect on the Cowboys' decision to take a quarterback. [embedded_ad]
"From my perspective, it won't be a factor how we draft – what Kyle does one way or the other," Jones said. "It will not be a factor in how we draft as far Kyle's not being here right now. If we did draft a quarterback, that wouldn't be a primary factor."
Garrett said he obviously wants all of the players to be working out with the team, but expects his primary backup to be involved when the mandatory sessions begin in June.
"We'd like to have all of our players here," Garrett said. "Every coach in this league will tell you the same thing. Understanding the nature of the offseason program is we can't mandate that to anybody. Some players choose not to be here. We anticipate him being here for the mandatory portion of the minicamp and him being back with our football team."