I'm all in favor of taking best player available usually, but how can Dallas do so with so many urgent needs and so little money to spend on free agents? Doesn't need have to factor in somewhere?
Nick: I agree with you. I've never really said "best player available" because I don't think it's accurate. They don't take the best guys on their board. If they did that, then why are there cases where they have a third-round guy available in the sixth round? Why did they take DeVonte Holloman in the sixth round when they had a fifth-round grade on both Jakar Hamilton and Brandon Magee? So it's not always about best player on your board. I think need is a big factor but teams don't want to reveal that in fear of showing their hand.
David: Stephen Jones spoke about this a little bit at the Combine last week. Yes, you absolutely need to consider your needs in a situation like this. I just don't think it's smart to pigeonhole yourself into a singular line of thinking. That's how you wind up reaching, or doing something desperate in the name of meeting team needs. Ideally you want a focused gameplan, but I think an open mind is also important.
Do the Cowboys need a new punter?
Nick: They need more production there. If that means replacing Chris Jones or at least giving him some competition than yes, that's what they need. I wouldn't worry about giving Dan Bailey much competition in preseason but possibly your new punter can help lessen his load on kickoffs before the season starts. I thought Jones had his moments of good and bad. He does a pretty good job of angling his punts without losing distance. Sure there are times when you wish he would get it inside the 10 more, but he doesn't have a bad habit of booming down the middle of the field. Last year, 26 yards was the longest return against Jones and the punting team all year. That says a lot about the coverage units, but the direction of the punt plays a big part into that.
David: If you go by stats alone, it doesn't seem very impressive. Jones' average of 45 yards per punt ranked just 19th in the league, and his net of 39.1 was 20th overall. Like Nick pointed out, though, it's not like the punting game was a liability last year – the Cowboys' coverage in that regard was fantastic. Jones' 30 punts downed inside the 20-yard line was also tied for eighth-best in the league. It's definitely not the biggest area of concern, but I don't think a little competition would hurt Jones.