Spagnola: At Seemingly Long Last, A Draft

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FRISCO, Texas – The Star sure is a beehive of activity out here of late.

The Cowboys staff making their final preparations for the 2019 NFL Draft, commencing on Thursday and proceeding through Friday and Saturday.

Nike co-founder and current chairman emeritus Phil Knight here on Wednesday for a joint seminar with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones at Ford Center.

Draft parties ready to take place during the three-day annual selection meeting, Thursday inside Ford Center and then on Friday and Saturday outdoors on the Tostitos Championship Plaza.

The team's strength and conditioning workouts shifting into high gear for a second week, meaning players returning to The Star.

And even the grass outdoor practice field being totally scalped away, with preparations to put down a new field closer to the adjacent artificial turf field to make room for further construction out here.

Yep, the place is abuzz, and to think, the Cowboys don't even have a first-round pick. Check that, they already have made their first-round pick, just prematurely, having traded for wide receiver Amari Cooper seven games into the 2018 season, and what a pick it's been.

So pay attention Thursday night when the Raiders go on the clock with the Cowboys-acquired 27th pick. See just who they take, but more importantly what covey of players would have been available to the Cowboys had they not traded for Cooper. My guess is, not even close to being as talented and for sure not as experienced as Cooper.

All enough for shots galore.

  • Sitting Tight: No way the Cowboys trade away future draft picks, and that is plural, next year's first, along with this year's first pick, 58th overall, a second-rounder, in order to trade back into the first round. As Cowboys COO Stephen Jones said the other day the Cowboys will just "ride it out there" Thursday night. Ride for sure, they will.
  • Contributor: With 58th in line for their first pick, that's 26th in the second round – assuming the Cowboys don't trade up a tad – seems will be hard to grab a Day 1 starter as they did last year with Connor Williams with the 50th pick. How come? First, the Cowboys dutifully filled in at every position of need with veterans in free agency. Except for running back, and while not out of the question, drafting a sure backup running back for years to come with a second seems a tad rich for their blood. Even Stephen Jones admitted as much, pointing out so, saying, "Certainly with the talent on this team that's going to be difficult to do." The idea then with that first pick becomes, "but you surely want someone to contribute and hopefully play a role in helping us win games."
  • Insider Trading: When making his appearance Tuesday on flagship station 105.3 The Fan, Stephen Jones was asked if he has received any draft help from son John Stephen, a freshman quarterback last season for the Arkansas Razorbacks. After all, though playing in just three games last year, John Stephen certainly saw some of these draftable players in games against SEC opponents, while also watching tape preparing for opponents and maybe even a little input about his own teammates. And in fact, Stephen did, saying he had spent the weekend with John Stephen for his birthday and went over their draft board together. "He had some good insight into some of those guys," Stephen Jones said.
  • What A Knight: With Jerry Jones hooking up with Phil Knight here Wednesday afternoon reminded me of the time in 1995, season opener on Sept. 4, Monday night football, Giants Stadium, when Jerry walked onto the sideline side-by-side with Phil, the two announcing the Cowboys breaking from NFL protocol to sign a renegade marketing deal with Nike. Jones, of course, was wearing a pair of Nike's with his suit. That also was the day cornerback Kevin Smith tore his Achilles, one day after being signed to a long-term deal. Five days later the Cowboys signed free-agent Deion Sanders to that seven-year, $45 million deal with $12.999 million signing bonus.
  • Happy Anniversary: Wow, it's been 30 years ago Tuesday the Cowboys officially drafted Troy Aikman with the first pick in the 1989 draft. Day was April 23. And if memory serves me correct, the Cowboys began engaging in serious contract talks with Aikman's agent Leigh Steinberg as soon as the NFL approved of the team's sale to Jerry Jones in a special meeting in New York on April 18 – the same day 29-year president and general manager Tex Schramm officially resigned to head up the NFL's fledgling International Football League that eventually became NFL Europe. Three days later, the Cowboys signed Aikman to a six-year, $11.2 million deal, and get this, the largest contract in history for an NFL rookie. My how times change. The recently-signed DeMarcus Lawrence's 2019 cap hit is $11.1 million.
  • Better To Be First: In order, starting from 2010, here is a list of the Cowboys' last nine first-round picks: Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith, Morris Claiborne, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, Byron Jones, Ezekiel Elliott, Taco Charlton and Leighton Vander Esch. That's seven for nine Pro Bowlers, combining for 21 total. Also, seven of nine are still with the team, and sure seems this season had better be Taco Time, otherwise that group reduces to six I'd think by next year.
  • Mashed Potatoes: With very few, if any really knowing what teams will do this close to Thursday's start to the draft, this is when a whole bunch of mashed potatoes are thrown against the wall, just hoping something will stick. Saw where someone reported the Cardinals were having final meetings to decide what they are going to do with the first pick. Please. They know. Just not saying. Or holding out for maybe some team to give up its entire draft, a la the Saints back in 1999 for Ricky Williams. Or the 49ers throwing out chum they are willing to trade down from the second pick. Loved this one: The Steelers are not opposed to anything. That covers your bases.
  • Pot Shots: See where Atlanta signed former Cowboys' 2013 third-round pick, safety J.J. Wilcox, who spent four seasons with the Cowboys . . . If the Cowboys should draft a tight end early, then what happens with last year's fourth-round pick Dalton Schultz and Blake Jarwin? Has to be a generational player to turn your back so fast on those young guys . . . The Cowboys playing Buffalo on Thanksgiving takes me back 35 years when I missed the Cowboys playing at Buffalo because I couldn't get from covering a Nebraska-Oklahoma game in Lincoln on Saturday in time for a noon start on Sunday in Buffalo. Nebraska lost, and so did the Cowboys, 14-3, dropping their record to 7-5 and causing head coach Tom Landry to give up on quarterback Gary Hogeboom, returning to former starter Danny White for the final four games . . . Something to ponder: If Byron Jones is not ready to start the season opener because of hip surgery, then who starts at right corner, Anthony Brown or Jourdan Lewis?

And we'll end with where my draft discussions first began months ago: Deebo, Deebo, Deebo.

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