Bright minds across the globe of Cowboys Twitter have clung to one single truth around this time of year.
While smokescreens, flim-flams, and razzle dazzles are being set, done, and thrown by NFL Front Offices across the league... The Dallas Cowboys traditionally are cautiously honest when it comes to their annual Pre-Draft Press Conference.
Jason Garrett, Jerry Jones, and Stephen Jones all sat down for what will essentially be the last time in front of the media before things hit Zero Dark Thirty around Valley Ranch. You can watch the Pre-Draft Press Conference here, and I encourage you to do so, but here are a few things that can be drawn out from what they said.
The Cowboys Will Most Likely Stay At The 4th Overall Pick
Jerry Jones said himself that the Cowboys would most likely stay with the pick that they earned after the 2015 season (you know, the one we buried and are never ever EVER going to talk about again...). This has become quite the pivot point for all teams in the Draft. Los Angeles and Philadelphia are very likely (as much of a guarantee as there is in the NFL Draft) taking the crop's top two quarterbacks, and while San Diego has some options... Where the Cowboys go will shape the entire night for the NFL.
The Best Player Available Approach Is The Right One
The nature of football is that every team has a need. You can cycle through all 32 teams and each one of them is in sore need of some talent at a certain position. When it comes to the Cowboys you could choose from a lot of things: Pass Rush (especially since our top two rushmen are suspended for the first four games), Secondary, Running Back... Your call.
The Cowboys have traditionally stuck to a "Best Player Available" methodology when they're on the clock. They don't overreact based on need. This is how you win in the National Football League. Stephen, Coach Garrett, and Jerry all reiterated this philosophy so expect Dallas to continue to put it into practice.
"You Can't Have It All"
While answering a question about the suspensions of Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence coupled with the non-re-signing of Greg Hardy, Jerry Jones gave us what perhaps might be the philosophy of the 2016 Cowboys.
He said that some parts of this team were going to be better than others (shocker, I know). He said that "you can't have it all" and you have to expect the better parts to carry the not so good ones.
This is a little alarming if I'm quite honest. At this point Jerry had also said that they were essentially assuming that they'd be a little luckier when it came to health this season (I don't have to remind you how hard the injury bug bit last year). If you connect all those dots then it sounds like the club is willing to bet that Tony Romo will be healthy and carry this team yet again. Just be cautious.
The Cowboys Have Done Their Homework On Joey Bosa
Obviously the Cowboys have some concerns when it comes to their prized pass rushers - we've gone over that. People around the country have suggested that as an immediate reaction to that need the Cowboys will select Ohio State's Joey Bosa.
Coach Garrett said that they know Joey very well. They visited with him at the Combine, at Valley Ranch, and at Ohio State. Jerry Jones said that "his character would not be an issue" in Dallas drafting Bosa. While the Bosa-To-Dallas hype has cooled significantly, just know that it's not dead entirely.
There Will Very Likely Be A Quarterback Taken In The Later Rounds
The braintrust of the Dallas Cowboys don't feel that there is a high priority, or high enough to make a bad decision in Jerry's words, to find Tony Romo's successor in this Draft.
Couple that with the fact that they believe there is an "intriguing" amount of depth in this year's quarterback class, and you have a recipe for a late round QB. Expect the Cowboys to address the quarterback position in this draft, but not until they feel good about some other positions first.
This Roster Is Built With A Financial Eye
People across the world acknowledge that Jerry Jones is a fantastic businessman, and they claim that he has no knowledge of football. What those critics don't fully get is that Jerry Jones has woven those two subjects with one another in one of the most brilliant ways in sports history.
Upon being asked if there was more pressure surrounding the 4th Overall Pick versus picking in the twenties, Jerry gave an answer that left us in awe. He said that for a long time that those top picks were some of the most expensive resources in football when it came to building your team. This is of course because of the old Collective Bargaining Agreement where rookies broke the bank on their deals.
With the new CBA rookies are on their own salary cap, so the 4th Overall Pick is a much larger bang for your buck so to speak. Jerry Jones gets this and it's for this reason that the Dallas Cowboys are who they are. Trust him.
Ezekiel Elliott Is Worthy Of Being In The "Top 10"
Stephen Jones was the go-to when it came to questions surrounding Ohio State's star running back Ezekiel Elliott. He said that Zeke was certainly worthy of going in the Top 10, which could be an indication that Zeke might be a target if the Cowboys trade back.
As the Cowboys hold the 4th Overall Pick if someone was held in high regard you'd have to imagine Stephen would have said worth of being in the "Top 5."
Jason Garrett Loves Jalen Ramsey
When asked about Florida State's Jalen Ramsey and his corner/safety hybrid skills, Jason Garrett right about wrote a Nicholas Sparks novel for us.
Coach Garrett spoke from the heart saying that Ramsey was a phenomenal football player. He said that he'd visited with him extensively (at the Combine, at Valley Ranch, and at Florida State) and that he jumps off of the tape. Coach Garrett drew a comparison to another Seminole in Deion Sanders (who he knows well) when justifying that Ramsey's low interception numbers are because opposing quarterbacks shied away from him.
The 4th Overall Pick Will Come Down To Jalen Ramsey Or Ezekiel Elliott
This has been one of the longer offseasons in recent memory. We're all itching to get back to the glory days of Sunday Football, and we can't wait to see the 4th Overall Pick in action.
We've speculated, guessed, proclaimed, pounded the table, and outright screamed for the Cowboys to draft different players at different points.
All in all it seems that the gentleman walking towards Commissioner Goodell holding his name on a Cowboys jersey will be either Jalen Ramsey or Ezekiel Elliott.
It seems that the Cowboys are leaning Ramsey at this moment. Of course San Diego could very well acquire Ramsey's services with the 3rd Overall Pick. If that were the case then the Cowboys seem more than ecstatic to take Ezekiel Elliott. Should San Diego take one of the offensive linemen or pass rushers and leave both Ramsey and Elliott on the board... Well things could get interesting.
Why The Cowboys Shouldn’t Draft a Guard in the First Round
With the 19th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys are in what some call an "awkward spot" to choose a player. As a team with both offensive and defensive needs, it'll all depend on how the board falls and who's still available once they're on the clock.
They can go ahead and find this team's next number one wide receiver, look for a young linebacker for the future, draft a defensive tackle to upgrade the front seven or they can use their first-round pick to continue to build on their already elite offensive line.
Recently, my colleague Brian Martin wrote about how upgrading the left guard position should be the Cowboys' top priority in this Draft. A large amount of fans, writers and analysts feel the same way. Even still, I truly believe that Dallas may be better off addressing a different position in the first round this time around.
However, it'd be foolish not to admit that once Draft Day arrives, if Dallas ends up taking someone to instantly solidify that great offensive line to keep Dak Prescott clean and make holes for Ezekiel Elliott, the pick would simply make sense.
It's hard to imagine how things will turn out, but it's very likely that once the Cowboys' turn comes, the best player available will be a guard. There will be a lot of talent there. Isaiah Wynn and Will Hernandez will probably still be on the board, for instance.
Also, the front office has done a very good job at drafting offensive linemen. In the past recent years, Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin have been one of the main reasons for this team's offensive success.
There are many reasons to believe that OG is the way to go, but I can't help wondering...
Drafting a guard at 19 is the safe pick... but is it the right one?
This is an important question. We all know that taking a guard is the safe pick, and that if that's the direction they choose to go, they won't miss and whoever they draft will contribute from Day 1 to this team's success.
Unfortunately, anyone who looks at the Cowboys' situation objectively knows that there are some other needs they have to attend to take another step.
They have at least three linemen playing at an elite level. Not to mention La'el Collins, who has the potential to become an elite player as well. Like it or not, we need to include the salary cap into the picture.
According to Over The Cap, Left Tackle Tyron Smith averages $12.2M per year and Center Travis Frederick $9.4M. Enter Zack Martin who is about to get paid the big bucks soon. He's still playing under his rookie contract after Dallas picked up his fifth-year option.
However, a contract extension is expected to arrive this offseason. If we're being honest with ourselves, he will ask for a big amount of money, because he deserves it. Browns' Kevin Zeitler, the highest paid RG right now, earns $12M a year. Martin's numbers will probably be even higher.
If the Cowboys draft a guard, it'll be in order to ensure that this offensive line will work at a high level.
But if you already have Smith, Martin and Frederick, shouldn't it already be working at a high level? Do you really need four first-round picks (La'el Collins would've been a first-round pick if it wasn't for a situation which had nothing to do with him) in your offensive line to be successful?
A guard at 19 makes sense. It's safe. But I'd rather see this team diversify. They did a great job at finding Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis to rebuild the secondary last year. Maybe they can find a DT or a LB who can help this defense go from "solid" to great.
Or maybe, if they're ready to make this a Dak-friendly offense, go get him a fresh wide receiver. Someone who can create separation and get this offense going.
You can bring back Jonathan Cooper, who did a nice job last season or bring in another free agent. They should definitely look for a guard in April, but not in the first round. Unless it's Quenton Nelson, who is arguable the best or second-best player available this year, I hope they go in a different direction.
Upgrading LG Position Should be Cowboys Top Draft Priority
The Dallas Cowboys are quite proud about the offensive line they have put together over the years. Their OL is headlined by three former first-round draft picks who have turned into All-Pro players, and one player who should've been a first-round pick if not for an unfortunate situation that had nothing to do with him that took place during the draft.
This offensive unit is the backbone of the entire Dallas Cowboys team, but some changes need to be made. No, not the personnel per se. Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, and La'el Collins will all return to their starting roles, but that only makes up 80% of the unit. Who makes up the other 20% is probably the biggest question that needs to be answered before the 2018 season kicks off.
Yes, I'm talking about the vacancy at the left guard position.
Last season the Dallas Cowboys tried to plug the hole with Chaz Green and Jonathan Cooper. The Green experiment failed miserably and Cooper was serviceable at best. I don't know about you, but I think it's time to find a long-term solution and solidify the best offensive line for years to come.
The best and cheapest way to address the LG position is with one of the Cowboys draft picks.
Sure, the Dallas Cowboys could re-sign Jonathan Cooper to another affordable contract, but I have zero faith he can remain healthy. That's been the knock against him his entire professional career. I was actually surprised he lasted as long as he did in 2017.
With the 19th pick overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys are in a good position to have their choice of the best offensive guards in this draft class. Isaiah Wynn of Georgia, Will Hernandez of UTEP, James Daniels of Iowa, and Billy Price of Ohio State are all players under consideration here.
All four of these players are excellent Cowboys draft targets, and they can't really go wrong with any of them. They all bring a little something different to the table, but each would be an upgrade who would help get this team back on track.
You see, I think finding a new LG is the top Cowboys draft priority. I don't know if there is another position that can be filled by a rookie and contribute more to the team success in 2018.
This is especially true considering what the Cowboys like to do offensively. They want to establish the running game and control the clock. They weren't really able to do that in 2017 due to Tyron Smith's injuries in the revolving door at left guard.
We all saw what happened when they were forced to get away from their bread and butter. This is not an offense that is currently equipped to rely on the passing game to put points on the board. It's just not who they are.
That is why finding a new LG is so important. Not only would it help upgrade the running game, but it would also help keep things going if Tyron Smith continues to struggle with injuries.
It's much easier to plug and play a backup left tackle who can block in the running game than it is to find one who can pass protect as well as Smith.
I know opinions will vary, but I truly believe that it's in everyone's best interest to draft a starting caliber left guard. And if you want to know my opinion, I would do it with their first-round draft pick by taking Will Hernandez.
Do you think LG is the Dallas Cowboys top draft priority?
Cowboys Draft Target: BYU LB Fred Warner
The 2018 NFL Draft class isn't exactly full of difference-making linebackers. At the top of the class sits Roquan Smith, the Georgia LB who many feel is a franchise changer. Then there is Virginia Tech's Tremaine Edmunds, the athletic freak who has risen up draft boards. After the top two, however, there is some confusion about the rest of the class.
My third linebacker would be Alabama's Rashaan Evans, but after watching more tape over the last couple of months, BYU's Fred Warner is LB4 on my board. I recently wrote up a full scouting report on Warner for Slant Sports, in which I detailed what exactly I like about Warner's game.
During his time at BYU Warner doubled as an EDGE defender and off ball linebacker. He often found himself in-line and defending the line of scrimmage, and did a good job when asked to do so. In my opinion, he projects to be a WILL in the NFL, an off-ball linebacker the Cowboys could certainly use.
At 6'3" 235 pounds Warner is a big and fluid athlete who looks extremely comfortable in space. Fred Warner possesses impressive processing ability and the closing speed to come down hill and make plays after reading and recognizing what the offense is doing.
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
"On this play we see an example of Fred Warner’s ability to read, react, and close on the ball carrier. Warner stays disciplined in his run fits at first, reading the hats of the linemen as the hole forms. As the runner bounces, Warner begins to break down hill to make the play."
Fred Warner is also rather solid in coverage. Considering his length and quickness, Warner can cover a lot of ground in zone coverage. Every now and then he made some splashy type plays in coverage as well, such as this one against UCLA.
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
"Warner gets into his drop smoothly here, reading his keys and processing the play in front of him. Then, as soon as the quarterback lets go of the ball, Warner jumps on the route and makes a great play on the ball. Considering his size, this is an outstanding rep from Fred Warner."
So where would the Cowboys have to take Warner? By my estimation, 81st overall is the sweet spot for Fred Warner. There are a lot of decent linebacker prospects bunched together late day two and early day three, but I think Warner has separated himself from the pack.
I believe Warner is a better prospect than a Josey Jewell or Leighton Vander Esch, despite the love they have been getting during this draft season. I understand those who would say someone like Jewell better fits what the Cowboys need in a MIKE linebacker, but Fred Warner's hybrid versatility and skills at WILL make him very valuable as well.
The Cowboys could use some depth at linebacker, and Fred Warner would immediately provide that for Dallas. And, depending on the health of Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith, Warner may be asked to play a lot during his rookie season.
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