Idaho inside offensive lineman Mike Iupati and Bryant, just because of his past. They would have been satisfied with any one of those three, even trading up - within reason - for any one of those three.
Well, as it turned out, Thomas went to Seattle at No. 14, and then Iupati to San Francisco at 17. That's when things started getting fidgety in the war room. There wasn't much left the Cowboys were interested in, and there certainly wasn't much left after offensive linemen Maurkice Pouncey and Bryan Bulaga were taken at 18 and 23, respectively.
So the Cowboys knew they were down to two choices: Either trading up to take Bryant, or trading out of the first round for more picks. The only other guy they might have considered taking if they got stuck and just had to draft at No. 27 would have been Boise State cornerback Kyle Wilson, but taking him would have likely necessitated sitting one of their existing top three corners.
And they had no choice if they wanted Bryant. They had to trade up. They had anticipated, and after some nosing around, knew Baltimore at No. 25 would take Bryant. They had to get to at least 24.
Trading up three spots was within reason, not all that foolishness being subscribed to early in the week about trading all the way up to No. 12 with Miami or No. 13 with San Francisco. And as it turned out, all this cost them was the difference between their third-round pick at No. 90 and the fourth they got back from the Patriots at 119. So 29 spots.
In fact, when the Cowboys did trade up for No. 24 and took Bryant, they got a message from Baltimore, something about "taking our guy," although not in those exact words if you get my drift.
Now, at No. 24 the Cowboys - and Jones - could qualify the risk and reward. The risk at that point in the draft, with little other first-round choices available, had been minimized. The reward still was getting their hands on a top 10 talent.
Now the scales were balanced, unlike when the Cowboys were one of 20 teams to pass on Randy Moss in 1998. Don't buy all this pabulum Jones learned his lesson about passing on such a great talent for character reasons. Bull.
That time, the Cowboys had the No. 8 pick. That time the risk of taking a guy who had danced with trouble most of his teenage years was huge. Greg Ellis became the sensible pick.
This time the risk - and size of contract - was reasonable. They would turn the 27th pick in the draft, and for very little, into a potential No. 1 NFL receiver.
For that, you go for it. This was not a lesson learned in the past 12 years after Moss. This has been the business acumen with which Jones has operated for years, and why he is able to build a $1.2 billion stadium during a recession.
"We felt all along that you can mitigate that risk the lower you go in the first round," Jones said.
Let me further emphasize my point. Had the Cowboys owned the 10th pick in this draft, they likely would not have taken Bryant. Too much risk at that point. Thomas or Iupati likely would have been their man. In fact, a source said if you have three players with relatively the same grade, then at that point when you have a choice you lean toward filling the need, and the Cowboys certainly had needs at free safety and offensive tackle.
My point: The Cowboys didn't enter this draft dead-set on taking Bryant. That's just the way things worked out. But give them credit for having done as much homework on this guy as they could, just in case he fell into their lap or they were running out of first-round options.
Lucky? Or prepared? Probably both. But at that point they swung into action.
"Don't know how much of that you were seeing but someone else said we noticed there about five and six away, we noticed that things got to twitching, getting nervous and everybody started getting fidgety, talking in tongues and all that," Jones said when they became committed to drafting Bryant but knowing they had to leapfrog Baltimore. "So the whole thing started heating up when we saw striking distance. What's striking distance? Striking is when you can give a three and get back a four and have it happen for you."
And take a top 10 talent at No. 24 when you're at 27 and