Cowboys In Draft Mode

Starting last Monday and until the draft, owner Jerry Jones said he, coach Bill Parcells, assistant coaches and the scouting department will spend at least 10 hours per day scrutinizing eligible players and determine who they will pick with the fifth selection in the first round, should they keep it.

The Cowboys have needs at defensive end, cornerback and defensive tackle, and impact players at each position should be available when it's the Cowboys' turn. Jones and Parcells have suggested they would like to trade down, but that decision won't likely be made until they are on the clock on draft day because few teams have shown a willingness to move up this year.

The early focus of most mock drafts have the Cowboys going with either Kansas State cornerback Terrance Newman or Arizona State defensive end Terrell Suggs with the fifth overall choice. A shut down cornerback and a pass rusher priorities for any team but certainly for the Cowboys who haven't had an elite pass rusher since Charles Haley and have been trying to replace Deion Sanders at cornerback for four years.

However, defensive tackles Dwayne Robertson (Kentucky) and Jimmy Kennedy (Penn State) shouldn't be discounted, especially considering the need at defensive tackle as a result of the free-agent departure of Brandon Noble.

Making the pick even more intriguing is the possibility that Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich and Miami receiver Andre Johnson could also be available with the fifth, and thus challenging the Cowboys philosophy of going with a need or choosing the best available athlete.

Quarterback was not an area the Cowboys wanted to focus on in the draft but even their scouts acknowledge that's it will be hard to ignore Leftwich after his amazing workout earlier this week.

The same is true at receiver, where the Cowboys appear set with Joey Galloway and Antonio Bryant. However, Johnson's talent is considered very special at Cowboys headquarters, where he is the ranked ahead of much-more heralded receiver prospect Charles Rogers, who is set to go to Detroit with the No. 2 pick.

On the flip side, the presence of Johnson and Leftwich at no. 5 could open up more trade down possibilities for team who would love to move up to get them.

Jones and Parcells say the Cowboys have a lot of needs and would love to trade down to stockpile more draft picks.

The only problem with that logic is that this not considered a high quality draft. There are about 10 premium players and the Cowboys must come away with a player who can make an immediate impact.

So while they would like to move down, they don't want to move down too far where they can't get the player they want.

This brings us back to the first to players we mentioned -- Newman and Suggs. The Cowboys like both and need both. History suggests that the Parcells would covet a pass rusher over a shutdown cornerback if everything were equal.

Everything might not be equal in light of Suggs' poor workout and his off-field problems. Still, his 24 sacks as a senior can't be ignored either.

Also don't forget Washington State cornerback Marcus Trufant, the only other special cover corner in the draft. He is not considered a top five pick but the Cowboys could trade down a few spots and get him in the top 10.

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