Notes: Pollard’s Role, Byron’s Health, More

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FRISCO, Texas – Another night, another press conference.

The Cowboys made hay on Saturday, making six of their eight selections in this year’s draft. As might be expected with six draft picks, there was a lot to say about the new collection of players.

Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones, chief operating officer Stephen Jones and coach Jason Garrett sat down with the media for 20 minutes on Saturday. The trio went over each of the Cowboys’ Day 3 selections, as well as several other topics of conversations.

Here are the highlights:

  • There might not have been a draft choice that got the Cowboys more excited than fourth-round running back Tony Pollard. If you don’t believe that, here’s a simple quote for proof:

“It’s a little unfair -- he’s certainly not at that level, don’t get me wrong – but a little Kamara to him, as to how he complements Ingram down in New Orleans,” said Stephen Jones.

That’s high praise for anyone, let alone a fourth-round draft pick, given that Alvin Kamara is a two-time Pro Bowler and the 2017 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. But it’s clear that the Cowboys have big plans for the speedster.

“He can play flyer on special teams, he can return kicks, he can do all that. But what excites me the most is his home run threat as a running back,” Jones said. “He can get in there and take some of the snaps off Zeke, which I think Zeke needs at times, and when he walks in there he’s going to be a problem when defenses are looking at him. He’s a sub-4.40 guy – legit sub 4.40.”

  • The Cowboys traded down twice Saturday when players they liked got taken early, but they never really felt pressed to trade up for a prospect over the three-day weekend. “I think our feeling was, let the draft come to us,” chief operating officer Stephen Jones said. “We felt like we had probably a larger number of players on our board than we usually do, and so we felt like the depth was there and we could sit there and let it come at us.”
  • Fifth-round cornerback Michael Jackson (6-1, 210) has the frame that defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator Kris Richard wants in his secondary. “He certainly has all the physical traits,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “He’s big, he’s long, he’s fast, he’s physical, all the things that we like in our guys. He’s best in press. Just a lot of the traits we like.”
  • The decision to draft Jackson felt like a developmental decision when it happened, but Stephen Jones suggested otherwise. With Byron Jones recently undergoing hip surgery, Jones said Jackson could help handle the cornerback spot if the Pro Bowler is unavailable.
  • “Obviously, with Byron having a little injury issue there – we truly believe Byron is going to be fine. He’ll be ready to go for the first game,” Jones said. “But you never know about that. Mike can go in and out in terms of what he can do, in terms of playing in the slot or outside.”
  • Jones reiterated that the Cowboys intend to manage their star cornerback during training camp, but they expect him to be ready for Week 1 of the regular season.
  • The Cowboys’ other fifth-rounder, defensive end Joe Jackson, is a left end candidate to play behind Pro Bowler DeMarcus Lawrence. Left ends have to be strong against the run, and Garrett said Jackson is a “big, strong, tough physical player.” “Visiting with the people down at Miami, they really, really endorsed him heavily,” Garrett said.
  • For seventh-round picks, just making the team would be quite an accomplishment. Getting a role to actually play would be another. But Jalen Jelks, a pass-rusher from Oregon, is already thinking much bigger.
  • “Think about DeMarcus (Lawrence) on the other side of me,” Jelks said when asked why he was a good fit for the Cowboys. “(Lawrence was) a player I use to idolize so much as a kid trying to mimic everything he did, and now I get the chance to practice with him and learn from him.”
  • Jelks will get the chance to practice with him and the rest of the pass-rushers, but considering that Robert Quinn, Randy Gregory (who is currently suspended) and Taco Charlton, and even Dorance Armstrong are already in the mix, it won’t be easy for Jelks. But he’s not worried.
  • · “I promise I will outwork anybody you put on the table. That’s what I’ve been doing since I got to college,” said Jelks, a first-team All-Pac 12 pick last year. “I’ve always been an underdog type. You try to fight for a position on and off the field, whether it’s film room, extra lifts, or taking care of your body or getting in that film room and learning the plays as soon as I can.”
  • · While some might’ve been surprised the Cowboys waited until the late sixth round to address their safety needs, the team is obviously high on Texas A&M safety Donovan Wilson.
  • · “I just think we liked how he played. He is a really physical guy; that is what leaps off the tape at you,” Jason Garrett said. “We see him as a strong safety – a guy down around the line of scrimmage for us. Like you said, he has the physical traits. He is big. He is fast. We think he can pick things up quickly and get in here and compete and make the safety position that much better.”
  • · Wilson, who played a few games at AT&T Stadium for the Aggies, actually had a game-clinching interception in the 2018 win over Arkansas in Arlington.
  • · Cowboys owner Jerry Jones joked about Wilson not being afraid to hit.
  • “(Kris) Richard pointed that out and made me feel a lot better about it, because (Wilson) sure does have the right attitude back there at safety and can cover,” Jones said. “If you see him criticized at all, it will be because sometimes he comes in and misses. But he will bite, and if they bite as a puppy, they’ll bite as a dog. He will bite.”

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