IRVING, Texas– In the official sense, the Dallas Cowboys didn't execute a single trade during the course of the 2016 NFL Draft.
But while he may not have brokered any deals during the weekend, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said it wasn't for lack of trying.
"We spent a lot of our draft time trying to trade," Jones said Saturday after the draft's conclusion. "Let's put it like this: trading in the verbal sense – we spent a lot of time trading there. Now, did we get a trade? No. But that's the way that stuff goes."
Two days after failing to secure a trade up for Paxton Lynch, Jones confirmed that the Cowboys also tried to trade up for Michigan State standout Connor Cook – who was selected by Oakland after the Raiders traded up 14 spots to draft him just in front of Dallas.
Jones has expressed his regret about the effort to draft Lynch, as the Cowboys were ultimately outbid in that process by the Denver Broncos. Reflecting back on it, he said the failed deal kept him from sleeping on Thursday night.
In this case, the Cowboys' top decision-maker wasn't nearly so distressed, and his reasoning was fairly straightforward.
"The main reason is that I liked what we got," he said. "It was right there for us."
What the Cowboys got, in this instance, was Mississippi State's Dak Prescott. After three months' worth of ties to the Cowboys' coaching staff, the All-American quarterback fell right into their laps at pick No. 135.
"We spent a lot of time with a number of the different quarterbacks," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "You go down and you figure out where you want to put those guys on the draft board, and when it comes time to pick one of those names, it is a very thoughtful process to lead you there."
As has been pointed out plenty, Prescott is the first quarterback to be drafted in Dallas since Stephen McGee since 2009. He's widely expected to compete with Kellen Moore for the Cowboys' backup quarterback job. Most importantly to Jones is that he'll have an opportunity to study under a Pro Bowler in Tony Romo for the foreseeable future.
"I think this is big -- and it can be osmosis. I don't expect Tony to be out here having midnight sessions with him, learning and getting it up," Jones said. "But I just think that a guy – I've used this example – but Aaron Rodgers benefited from being around Favre. He saw things in Favre's game that could complement and add to what he's doing. I think this is the case in spades, and it's as much of anything as what motivated me to want to go ahead and get somebody on campus."
That's not the first time – and likely not the last – that Jones has compared his own team's quarterback dynamic to the duo of Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, who coexisted for three years before Rodgers took the reins of Green Bay's offense.
It seems justified in the immediate aftermath of the draft, though. Ever since the third time Romo broke his left collarbone, way back on Thanksgiving, the chatter about the Cowboys' quarterback prospects has been endless.
The organization obviously didn't make it happen with one of this year's top prospects – Lynch, along with No. 1 pick Jared Goff and No. 2 pick Carson Wentz. But after a seemingly endless procession of veterans and undrafted free agents, the Cowboys have settled their depth chart some with a genuine investment in the position.
"We wanted to get a young, developmental guy in here, and he was a guy that we really liked as a person," Garrett said. "We liked him a lot as a player -- highly endorsed by everybody at Mississippi State. His career speaks for itself and there is a lot to like about this guy. A developmental quarterback that we think is going to fit in well to our system."[embeddedad0]
There'll be no shortage of voices to guide Prescott as he starts out. Jones was sure to point out on Saturday that, in addition to Romo, the Cowboys boast plenty of former quarterbacks on their coaching staff in Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan and Wade Wilson.
"We are totally committed to giving him every opportunity to develop," Jones said. "He is a guy that my assessment of him, you want him to do it because he has all the intangibles. It was about the future."
It would be foolish to try to project that future in the hours immediately after Prescott was drafted. Like every other rookie, he'll report to Valley Ranch in the coming days for the start of offseason work. Like every other draft pick, there's the very real possibility he won't meet the potential the Cowboys see in him.
For the first time in a long time, though, the Cowboys have accounted for the future at quarterback. At the very least, it's a step in the right direction.
"We got rave reviews as far as our coaches spending some time with the other side's coaches – they raved about him," Jones said. "We had a good feeling about it, so I've got a really good feeling about it. Our staff is excited – real excited – about the chance to work and develop him."