IRVING, Texas – The 2016 NFL Draft is three and a half months away, with much evaluation still to come. But Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones knows what the team's general approach must be in the first round, holding the No. 4 overall pick following a 4-12 season.
"We've got to get the best player," Jones said Tuesday morning on 105.3 The Fan.
"We hear it, it's a cliché, but we hope, and we haven't even really scratched the surface in terms of an overall evaluation of what is the best player. But we're up here at the top of the draft. Frankly, I don't know that we've been here since the day that I walked through the door and there sat Troy Aikman (in the 1989 draft)."
They haven't. The fourth overall pick is the Cowboys' highest draft position, based on record, since 1989. They traded up for the top pick in 1991 and selected Russell Maryland.
The club determined in 1989 that Aikman was the best player available, and he just happened to be the best quarterback, too. Given the Cowboys' struggles without veteran starter Tony Romo this season – they went 1-11 while he was sidelined with a fractured collarbone – backup quarterback is among the highest offseason priorities.
Jones said he would be comfortable with drafting a quarterback at No. 4, but clearly the team doesn't plan to reach for any player with its top pick. That said, drafting one wouldn't be viewed strictly a developmental move for the future, given the need for a reliable backup now in case Romo misses any games going forward.[embeddedad0]
"In no way am I saying that we will draft a quarterback, but a top quarterback here at that level could have maybe done the job for us this year when we lost Romo for a period of time," Jones said. "And then our plan was to have Romo come back in when he came in and be ready to take us on in to the playoffs. So, that's helping now. I'd say that our backup quarterback situation – which I don't in any way want to rule out (Kellen) Moore – our backup quarterback situation is the best 'now' move we could make."
Jones has said Moore, who finished the season as the fill-in starter, performed well enough to be in the backup conversation next season.