Barron to Dallas?

How do you know when a general manager or coach is lying in the weeks leading up to the NFL Draft?

His lips are moving.

OK, maybe that's not quite fair, but it's not far off. Teams guard their draft strategies like winning lottery tickets in the days and weeks leading up to the league's annual meat market. They not only don't want other teams to know what they plan to do — many actively try to feed misinformation to the media in the hopes that other teams will react accordingly.

So when Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and head coach Jason Garrett held court with the media Wednesday in preparation for Thursday's first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, the answers were expectedly vague and cryptic. It was revealed that the Cowboys could target a number of different players, all of whom got glowing (but still vague) analysis, although at least Garrett was truthful enough to say things like, "you always want a player in the first or second round who can play."

Of more interest is whether the team actually plans to stay put and utilize the No. 14 selection in the first round. Jones said Wednesday that he has had conversations with other teams about moving up or moving down in the draft. What he didn't say is that every team has those conversations every year.

But there might be a little more reason for him to avoid answering anything asked of him this year.

The Cowboys, like every team, have considered options to move up and down, and will continue to do so until their pick comes up Thursday night. But unlike a normal "let's see what happens" year, ranchreport.com has learned from a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity that the Cowboys are actively trying to move up in the first round.

The reason: Dallas is one of several teams that has become more and more enamored with Alabama safety Mark Barron, who is believed to be rising as quickly as anyone on the draft boards of several teams around the league. In what is widely viewed as a weak class for safeties, Barron is without question at the head of the class, the only elite talent who is viewed as a virtual can't-miss prospect who could step in and start immediately for virtually any team in the league.

Several teams are believed to covet Barron (although other teams, like the Cowboys, are distributing misinformation as fast as possible). The Seattle Seahawks Seahawks and New England Patriots are among those teams to be actively seeking a way to trade up to get Barron; New England has two first-round picks, No. 27 and 31, to offer as trade chips. The Atlanta Falcons also reportedly have high interest in Barron, but after sending their first-round pick to the Cleveland Browns in the trade that allowed the Falcons to draft wide receiver Julio Jones, Atlanta is believed to be a longshot to land Barron.

Countless mock drafts have Dallas selecting Barron in the first round, but as Barron's stock has risen, the chance that he lasts until the 14th pick has declined, so if Barron really is the object of the Cowboys' desire, they might well have to trade up to get him.

With eight selections in the seven-round draft — not to mention picks in future years and players — the Cowboys have ample ammunition to trade up. The Jacksonville Jaguars, who own the seventh selection, and Kansas City, which owns the 11th selection, are believed to be potential trade partners.

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