FRISCO, Texas — Just as the lighting of the torch signifies the commencement of the Olympic Games, so too does the Dallas Cowboys’ annual pre-draft press conference kick off football’s answer to Christmastime.
Cowboys owner, president, and general manager Jerry Jones spoke at The Star alongside executive vice president Stephen Jones and coach Mike McCarthy about the team’s outlook ahead of the 2023 NFL draft. The Cowboys have seven total selections with their first at No. 26 overall.
Here are some takeaways from the annual draft hype presser:
1. Don’t hold out for a trade — The Cowboys have anywhere between 15-17 players with first-round grades. With that in mind, consider that Dallas does not pick until 26th overall. As Jerry Jones put it, “The problem is the players I’m looking at if they get to us, we’ve got a few warts on them. And, so, how did he get to you?”
Stephen Jones reminded that in 2020 the Cowboys managed to pick highly touted receiver CeeDee Lamb without having to make a single move upward. “We all know that takes hours,” Stephen Jones said. “You got plenty of time to be talking about it as guys are coming off and guys are starting to fall that you might like. It’s not unlike what happened to Lamb a couple years ago.”
2. McCarthy appreciates Dak Prescott’s involvement with the prospects — Much was made about how Prescott contacted South Alabama receiver Jalen Tolbert ahead of the 2022 NFL draft and even worked out with the eventual Dallas third-round pick. McCarthy has no problems with Prescott being as involved yet again.
“I think it’s good for Dak,” said McCarthy. “I think it’s good for the relationships that he has both in coaching and personnel and ownership that he’s that involved. More importantly, the fact that he can connect with a young player coming in this league as a prospect is a very healthy exercise. And definitely the feedback going back to last year was excellent. So, I think it’s a very healthy process all the way around.”
3. Don’t expect another first-round splash — The last time Dallas traded up into the first-round despite picking outside the top-10 was in 2012 when they dealt with the St. Louis Rams for the No. 6 overall pick and selected LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. Claiborne hardly lived up to the expectations as the first defensive player taken off the board.
#Cowboys' Stephen Jones says it's usually trades for quarterbacks that have generated the "splash" type of trades, and really they have been blessed with QB play over the years to not do that.
— Mark Lane (@therealmarklane) April 24, 2023
“There is an instinctive feel about making a trade, and I would say the same things with you draft wise until you look with the experience you’ve had, and you look over there and you take those four threes for that one, three threes for that one, and you also remember what’s left in the third round compared to what you’ve given up in the first round, and you get hand cramps and lockjaw and don’t do it,” Jerry Jones said. “So, my point is the experience of that will be all that you weigh.”
Circumstance has also played a role. As was the case with Lamb in 2020, the splash came their way. Micah Parsons was also not a top-10 pick in 2021, and the same was true for last year’s stellar rookie, Tyler Smith.
4. Dallas will retool in this draft to prepare for future contract negotiations — The Cowboys have key extensions coming up with Prescott, Parsons, Lamb, cornerback Trevon Diggs, and center Tyler Biadasz just to name a few. Their 2023 draft success could help them still have a dominant team around Prescott should there not be enough salary cap dollars to go around.
“We’re always plugging in as we move forward with where we’re going to be with guys like CeeDee and Diggs and Micah and the guys you mentioned, how we do that,” Stephen Jones said. “We’re also cognizant of, if for some reason it doesn’t work that way, you know, you’re bringing people along.”
#Cowboys' Jerry Jones jokes: "Drafting is not our problem. Coaching is."
That's an ender.
— Mark Lane (@therealmarklane) April 24, 2023
5. Running back at No. 26 overall is not out of the question — There are mock drafts that have the Cowboys taking Texas’ Bijan Robinson in the first round, and if the opportunity made sense for Dallas, it could happen.
“If you happen to see a back there at the bottom of the first that’s rare and unique and he falls because he’s a running back, then I would have to think that we would consider it, especially if we thought he should have been picked in the top half of the draft,” Stephen Jones said. “Maybe because he is a running back he’s falling a little bit. And obviously a lot of these backs can come into the NFL and play right away and play at a high level right away.”