Reading Between The Lines

picks this first year, he didn't hesitate to say, "Significant contributors . . . even with an offensive lineman," which to me means there is a crack in some door for just that. Hmmm. Word is, there will be an offensive lineman worthy of a first-round pick in the Cowboys' first-round vicinity, and even though they spent a third last year on James Marten and a fourth on Doug Free, let's face it, Marc Colombo might be in his final year with the team, who knows how long Flozell Adams will last at left tackle and what's wrong with a talented lineman challenging Kyle Kosier at left guard. There is this, too, and Jones brought this up unprovoked: The Cowboys paid a dear price in free agency for missing on second-round pick Jacob Rogers and giving up on third-round pick Stephen Peterman, thus being forced to pay huge bucks to sign free agent Leonard Davis, re-sign Andre Gurode, re-sign Flo and sign Kosier in free agency. That price also was dear because the Cowboys spent so much of their draft resources the past six to eight years desperately searching for cornerbacks and pass rushers that they neglected the offensive line. Keep that in the back of your mind. 

  On the possibility of trading out of the first round at No. 28: Seemingly very decent. Again, not me, Jones, and this has to do with the idea whoever is taken with a first-round pick on Saturday needs to be a "significant contributor" in 2008. Jones said if the guy the Cowboys are looking at is considered "a project," meaning will need a year or two to develop while making first-round money, then you will "see me coming down" - meaning trading out of the first round for a pick higher in the second. Jones also thinks that is a possibility anyway because there is a good chance some team high in the second round will see a quarterback they think is worth paying premium price to move up for, say like a Brian Brohm. Teams know the Cowboys are willing trade partners. 

  On using a first-round pick to trade for a veteran wide receiver: Absolutely, and Jones makes no bones about it. Now he would not say if there has been any backroom dalliance with Cincinnati's Chad Johnson, because as Jones pointed out, that would be tampering since Cincinnati hasn't given the disgruntled receiver permission to fly-fish for a trade, even if his agent is Drew Rosenhaus. (Washington, are you paying attention?) But he did say, however vague he was about the timing, that sometime between the end of the season and this week he did inquire about the possibility of trading for a veteran wide receiver, and the Cowboys have been linked in a recent report to have inquired about Johnson. Now if this were to happen, it would be April 26, when teams on the clock value these draft choices the most. 

  Forget about using a current player in a draft-day trade: Those of you out there promoting the use of a Bobby Carpenter or a Roy Williams or whoever else is in your fantasy to acquire the moon, forget about it. Jones unequivocally said not going to happen on draft day. "A poor time to get value out of a player is on draft day," he said. So don't ask again. 

  On the possibility of spending a second-day draft choice on a quarterback, since one recent mock had the Cowboys taking Andre Woodson in the fourth round: Didn't seem like the Cowboys think that absolutely must take place, and there is no reason to throw up a smoke screen for second-day intentions. Jones said, "We really like the progress we've seen in our young quarterback." He means last year's rookie practice squadder Richard Bartel, who was signed only after Matt Moore was claimed off waivers by Carolina following the final cut. "He has really gotten himself looking more like a quarterback," and would go on to say it wouldn't disappoint him if they came out of the draft without adding another quarterback. 

  On the benefits of addressing the safety position in the draft instead of free agency, considering the price paid this year for free-agent safeties: A very prudent move, even in the first round, which would fly directly in the face of team precedent. Yes, I know the Cowboys selected Roy Williams with a first-round pick in 2002. But he's the only safety selected with a first-round pick in club

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