FRISCO, Texas – It's officially draft week in the NFL and the Cowboys held their annual pre-draft press conference at The Star.
This is always the day in which the Cowboys try to at least be engaging with the media without giving away too much of their draft-day strategy.
Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones took the stage, along with his son Stephen Jones, Cowboys' chief operating officer and head coach Mike McCarthy.
Here are some of the quick highlights from Monday's press conference:
- In his response to the first question of the press conference, Jerry Jones mentioned the idea of trade, but later gave his usual response that showed the endless possibilities that come with having the 26th pick. "We may be interested in going down, or maybe up, or we might just sit there," Jones said.
- Stephen Jones said the Cowboys haven't finished their draft board yet, but expects to have around 15-18 players with first-round grades, meaning it's unlikely they will pick one of them at No. 26. "Still to be determined. We're still tweaking. I think in general, 15-17-18 range. That should end up being pretty close." In comparison, Tyler Smith was said to be the 16th player on their board and the Cowboys drafted him 24th overall.
- Jerry Jones mentioned the value Mike McCarthy brings to the War Room, stating that he was a big influence in 2020 to draft CeeDee Lamb. McCarthy was asked the importance of being prepared when highly-rated players start to fall. "Have your board in order. That's how you get prepared. As long as you feel very comfortable as those guys fall off, then you feel very much at peace that you'll be just fine. At the end of the day, if you have your board in order, you feel pretty good about what the outcome is going to be on draft day."
- So what happens at running back? That seems to be the big question after Ezekiel Elliott was released this offseason, leaving them with Tony Pollard on a 1-year franchise tag deal. Stephen Jones said the Cowboys must look at the history of many backs not having long careers, but also said having a later-first-round pick as they do this year, tends to open the door more to draft one in the first round. "I think you have to pay attention to the history of the running back and what happens. Once you move down the line, it's not as necessary that you have to get to that second contract. If there's a good running sitting there, I can't imagine he's not going to get a lot of attention from us about what he could do. If the right guy were there, we'd certainly look at it." The top running backs in this draft are Texas' Bijan Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs of Alabama. Ironically enough, both of them were coached in college at one point by Tashard Choice, a former Cowboys running back and 2008 fourth-round draft pick.
- Dak Prescott mentioned it on Friday that he will connect with some of the wide receivers in the draft as he did last year with Jalen Tolbert. McCarthy called the process "very helpful from a 360 perspective" and it's good for Dak, the players and the team to have the quarterback that engaged.
- The Cowboys haven't made a big "trade-up" since 2012 when he jumped to No. 6 to land cornerback Morris Claiborne. Stephen Jones addressed the question, stating that most of the time big trades are done to get a quarterback. And because they have been fortunate to have Tony Romo and Dak Prescott, that hasn't been a need, therefore they have avoided splash-trades in the last decade.
- When asked about the depth of the offensive line and how to factor in younger players vs. drafting new guy, Mike McCarthy praised both Matt Waletzo and Josh Ball. He also added that Ball is going to get some reps at both guard and tackle.
- Jerry Jones recalled a story he's told before about his college days, gaining confidence on the 1964 Arkansas team that knocked off No. 1 Texas early in the season and how that momentum carried the team to a national championship. Jones said he saw the 2022 TCU team in a similar way and because of that, and the winning experience they gained and the proven ability of success, is a reason he's a little more intrigued with TCU players in the draft this year. Some of the top TCU players include guard/center Steve Avila, wide receiver Quinton Johnston, running back Kendre Miller and quarterback Max Duggan, who was a Heisman Trophy finalist.
"From Thursday's First-Round party to Friday's Live Music and a Saturday 5K run, celebrate the NFL Draft with us. Join us for Draft Weekend presented by Miller Lite, April 27-29, at The Star in Frisco"