Complete Draft Day Breakdown

ASU defensive end Terrell Suggs and Kansas State cornerback Terence Newman are the front-runners for the Cowboys' first-round pick. However, a team coming off three consecutive 5-11 seasons has many needs and trading down to acquire more picks seems close to a virtual lock.

Cornerback, defensive end, defensive tackle, running back, offensive line, quarterback and linebacker are all need areas for the Cowboys.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said the only thing that's certain is that the Cowboys' 2003 draft philosophy will be the same as it was in 2002.

His greatest hope is to duplicate the success of last year as well, considering five picks broke into the starting lineup, highlighted by the play of first-round pick Roy Williams, who is considered a future Pro Bowler at safety.

"If you look at our history," Jones said, "we have always been very active in trying to get more value on draft day by trading down. But we also learned the value being at the top draft last year with Roy Williams. We learned if you are drafting with a good position you can do some damage. We will approach this year the same way as last year."

Jones said he and coach Bill Parcells remain open to trading down.

However, citing the lack of depth in this year's draft and the Cowboys' pre-eminent need to get an impact player, he acknowledged it would take a significant deal to get them do so.

"There are about 10 top quality players in this year's draft," Jones said. "After that it drops off in the first round. I would be real reluctant to move away from one of those players. We have a top pick. We don't want to be up here much. But once you earned the right to be up here, you need to come away with an impact player."

Jones understands that getting a top player with the fifth pick is not guaranteed, since "50 percent of the players" picked in the top 10 don't live up to expectations. But he said he'd much rather take his chances with those odds because "the percentages for busts is even greater with players picked between 10 and 32."

"We believe we have the opportunity to get a great player and it will take a trade of tremendous value to get us out of there," Jones reiterated.

Jones said "they didn't do it last year" and "the decision is very much the same this year."

While the Cowboys traded the sixth overall pick to Kansas City last year for the eighth selection, there wasn't a huge risk factor in the trade. They were still able to get the player they targeted in Williams because they moved down only two spots. In the process, they acquired an extra draft pick from the Chiefs, which allowed them to move in the second round and take receiver Antonio Bryant.

But Jones' message is clear.

"Last year, we wouldn't have moved more than two spots," Jones said. "And if we wouldn't have been able to get Williams, we wouldn't have made the trade. When you are up there, you have to get a good player."

Understanding their goal to get an impact player in the first round is one thing. Deciding who it will be is another.

Jones said that's the purpose of the meetings.

The Cowboys goal is get the best player available who has a chance to make the biggest impact.

In that respect, their obvious needs at cornerback and defensive end match the talent at the top of the draft in Newman and Suggs.

Washington State cornerback Marcus Trufant, who should go between eight and 10, is a possibility if the Cowboys trade down.

However, defensive tackles Dewayne Robertson (Kentucky) and Jimmy Kennedy (Penn State) shouldn't be discounted because of the need that arose with the free-agent departure of Brandon Noble to the Redskins.

Making the pick even more intriguing is the possibility that Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich and Miami receiver Andre Johnson could also be available at No. 5.

Quarterback is not an area the Cowboys wanted to focus on early in the draft, but there are some in the organization that believe Leftwich might be hard to ignore.

The same is true at receiver, where the Cowboys appear set with Joey Galloway and Antonio Bryant. However, Johnson is thought to be a superstar talent by many at Cowboys headquarters, where he is ranked ahead of much-more heralded receiver prospect Charles Rogers of Michigan State.

Conversely, the presence of Johnson and Leftwich at No. 5 could open up more trade down possibilities for a team who would love to move up to get them.

Jones said it would all be decided on draft day.

Final Summary of Team Needs
CB -- The Cowboys have been looking to find a cover corner in the mold of Deion Sanders since he departed following the 1999 season. They targeted Texas cornerback Quentin Jammer last year but he was picked by the San Diego Chargers before them so they "settled" for future Pro Bowl safety Roy Williams. Another shutdown corner is available this year in the form of Terence Newman of Kansas State. He is even more of a prime-time like player because he also returns kicks and can play offense. The only question about Newman is his age (25), as the Cowboys wonder how long he will be able to play. Another option is Washington State cornerback Marcus Trufant, who would be a great choice if the Cowboys trade down a couple of spots. Without Newman or Trufant, the Cowboys will look to get a corner in the second round. Make no mistake, however, they will draft a corner on the first day of the draft. The need is definitely there.

DE -- The Cowboys got 24 sacks as a team last season last season, including just one from their supposed pass rush end combo of Ebenezer Ekuban and Peppi Zellner. Bill Parcells likes guys who can get after the quarterback. There is one in the draft who did it like none other in college football in Terrell Suggs of Arizona State. He recorded an NCAA record 24 last season alone. The Cowboys, however, are worried about his maturity. He is considered the highest rated prospect that has a chance to be the biggest bust.

DT -- Brandon Noble's defection to the Redskins has the Cowboys concerned about the tackle position opposite La'Roi Glover. Last year's third tackle John Nix is not considered starter quality. The other options on the roster are converted defensive end Colston Weatherington and disappointing Willie Blade. This draft has two defensive tackles worthy of top 10 consideration in Kentucky's Dewayne Robertson and Penn State's Jimmy Kennedy. If Suggs and Newman are gone, these two are definite options for the Cowboys.

RB -- Emmitt Smith is gone. Emmitt Smith is gone. Emmitt Smith is gone. The Cowboys are giving Troy Hambrick the first shot at replacing the league's all-time leading rusher. They believe he can do the job, but they remain concerned about his attitude. They will choose a running back at some point in the draft and it could be as early as the second round, especially if they get a corner in the first round and a prospect like Georgia's Musa Smith or Virginia Tech's Lee Suggs is still on the board.

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