Byron Jones’ Versatility Gives Cowboys Draft Flexibility

    There's no question that the need to add some talent to their in the . Two years ago they spent a first-round pick on , who has since played both and . Now, Jones' versatility could increase the Cowboys' flexibility in this year's draft.

    For a long time now, the has preached its devotion to the idea of drafting for talent over need. This isn't always applicable; Dallas isn't going to spend a first-round pick on a  even if Mitch Trubisky falls to the 28th pick. However, as the recent picks of guys like and have shown, the Cowboys will lean toward superior talent when it's logical.

    Byron Jones, J.J. Wilcox
    Safeties Byron Jones and (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

    Let's hypothesize, then, that the Cowboys are on the clock late Thursday evening. A run on defensive ends has taken all of the guys Dallas liked as first-round picks off the board. That DE run, though, has left several good options available at cornerback and safety.

    Dallas has a new home ready for any rookie . The departures of , , , and J.J. Wilcox in left plenty of openings at both corner and safety. Dallas did sign veteran last month but that hardly makes up for all of the losses.

    Where Byron Jones' versatility really comes into play is the goal of getting your best players on the field together. Let's say Dallas drafts a first-round safety but then blossoms with increased opportunities. For most teams this would create a logjam, but the Cowboys could consider playing Jones at cornerback.

    Nolan Carroll
    CB Nolan Carroll

    Many are not thrilled with the of Nolan Carroll. He had a down year for the Eagles in 2016 and is 30-years-old. Dallas clearly believes he can do well in their scheme, paying him over $3 million per season. The Cowboys usually do well with their signings, but they don't all work out.

    It's entirely possible that, in this scenario, Carroll would now be the sixth-best player in the Cowboys secondary. They would have their first-round rookie and the emerging Jeff Heath at safety, plus and at cornerback. It may work out that playing Byron Jones at corner is how you keep the most talent on the field in most of their and packages.

    On the surface, Dallas would seem to need a cornerback over a safety. Anthony Brown, while solid in 2016, is still developing. Carroll and Scandrick are both getting older and Orlando has had a bad run with . Ideally, a great cornerback prospect will be available and allow the Cowboys to improve there without moving other parts.

    Jeff Heath
    S Jeff Heath

    The point here is that they don't have to feel stuck with that scenario, though. If there's a safety available who is clearly better than any of the corners, Dallas should feel perfectly free to take that player. That rookie may simply beat out Jeff Heath for a starting spot, or both of them may play well enough that it makes sense to play Byron Jones at cornerback.

    Options are a wonderful thing in the world of roster management. The Cowboys, and probably 31 other teams, put a premium on versatile players who provide more flexibility. Byron Jones is one of those guys; a former first-round pick whose presence could impact this year's draft decisions.

    Jess Haynie
    Jess Haynie
    Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!


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