The Cowboys pre-Draft presser is annually a valuable tool for Cowboys fans who enjoy trying to "read between the lines.'' But before you and Fish and the staff at CHQ starts "Translating Jerry'' and reading between those lines? We need to actually read the lines. Here they are, Jerry, Stephen and Garrett with all the words from Monday's session Valley Ranch:
WHAT ARE YOU DOING AT NUMBER FOUR? (Jerry) -- "Most likely stay. Got a chance to have an outstanding player there. If you make any assumption at all about how those first two picks are going to go, you’ll more than likely stay. It’s a good spot. If something did come that way it would probably be with some pretty serious consequences. That’s total speculation, not setting any sale based on that call coming in at all."
THERE ISN'T VERY MUCH DIFFEREN BETWEE NEED AND PLAYER AT FOUR, IS THERE? -- "It’s all opinion. Then we’ll have our opinion to what that is, in terms of who the best player is versus need. I think there can be a difference."
Garrett -- "Yeah, I think if we evaluate ourselves through the years we’ve always done our best drafting when we drafted who we deem to be the best player. I think most teams try to do that. Oftentimes, need creeps into it. But when you’re disciplined to that philosophy, just by definition you’re taking the better player and adding him to your team, so you want to try your best to build your team throughout the offseason where you don’t have a ton of needs going into the draft. That’s where free agency comes in so you can get to draft day, you can draft as purely as you can really throughout all seven rounds."
HAVE YOU DONE ENOUGH TO DRAFT BPA? (Garrett) -- "We have certainly tried to do that."
HOW DO THE SUSPENSIONS AND NOT RE-SIGNING MINCEY AFFECT THE DRAFT? (Jerry) -- "The loss of Gregory and the loss of Lawrence is a setback and certainly that has put us on a horse so to speak to get in here and call on some guys to fill those voids. How it would impact us in this draft I really don't think it has. We knew we wanted to address those positions with, I'm not going to call it depth. We wanted to address in this draft players that were good enough to have play time. If they are good enough to have play time in my mind then we can put together a front in there that can compete at a competitive level. It was a setback. As far as the decision on not having other players on the roster then that was done by mother nature there. That was done by our decision. We thought we thought we could on either basis with the kind of surprises injury or suspensions you could get. We thought if we made those decisions on Mincey and we made those decisions on Hardy that we could put a team on the field out there that we were happy with. You can't have it all. We are going to better on parts of this team than we are in others. The trick is to get the good parts to lift us the lesser parts."
HAVE THE SUSPENSIONS ALTERED HOW YOU EVALUATE PLAYERS? (Jerry) -- "It reminds you that ability really needs to be adjusted by availability. It doesn’t do any good how good you are if you can’t get out on the football field. You can’t help us and you should have consideration when you’re either being brought to the team or drafted or any way we acquire personnel. Ability is availability. That does remind you when you have set backs from suspensions hitting that equation real good and so yes, it’ll be accounted for as we’re picking our players in this draft. And I’d like for coach, Jason, to comment on this as well, please."
Garrett -- "Obviously there are a lot of factors that go into play when you’re talking about evaluating a player. Talent matters. We all know that. But character matters as well – personal character and football character. My experience has been the best players I’ve been around have the best combination of those things. The football character and the personal character they have really allows them to live up to their potential, so any player we’re talking about whether it’s a player on our own team, whether it’s a player in free agency, whether it’s a player in the draft, we talk about those things. How talented is the player? How can he help us physically as a player? And who is he? What kind of guy is he? We all know that none of us are finished products. We value having the right kind of guys on our team. We value having the right kind of character on our team. We value the structure we have in place. In light of the recent suspensions, we evaluate everything that we do in regards to the players that we have – who we brought in and how we treat them once they’re here and how they behave once they’re here both on and off the field. That’s not going to change. We’ll continue to do that. We’ll continue to evaluate their talent, but also we’ll evaluate equally importantly their football and their personal character and that will go into every decision we make over the next three days toward the end of this week – Thursday, Friday and Saturday – and that will continue. What we’ll find out is if we bring someone in who is not a finished product and he can’t function to the level that we’re satisfied with in our culture he’s not going to be here for very long. I think most teams in the NFL probably agree with that philosophy. We’ll give guys a chance. We understand they’re human beings. We’ll look at their history. We’ll make our best evaluation of what we think they can be and if they don’t live up to those standards, then they’re not going to be here. We’ll find somebody else who can do those things."
WHAT ABOUT JOEY BOSA AND HIS CHARACTER CONCERNS? (Garrett) -- "We’ve had great visits with Joey and one of the things that we really appreciate about this process is you have a lot of opportunity to get to know these players. Now you’re not going to know them to the extent that you would if they are in your building and you are living with them day after day. But we got a chance to visit with Joey at the combine. We got a chance to visit with him here. We went to Ohio State and worked him out. So we’ve gotten to know him as a football player and to the extent that we can as a guy. He’s a young guy. He’s 20 or so years old. He’s had a couple of issues in his life up to this point. That’s not unique to Joey Bosa. What we try to do is we try to determine what the circumstances are around those incidents and talk to a lot of people who know him well, all the way back to high school and college. People we think we can trust. And again we try to make our best evaluations as a player and as a person we make those determinations do we want to bring that guy to our team."
DO YOU HAVE ENOUGH PLAYMAKERS (Jerry) -- "No. We’d like more. Do we have enough now if we didn’t add to it in this draft to go out and compete at the level that we’d hope we can compete if we have good health? Yes. If we didn’t add to it, which will not be the case, but if we didn’t add to the offense. I feel that. That’s also with a hypothetical that you’re not going to be dealing with injury. Well that’s not real. So you’re going to have some injuries. And then we’ve got a couple of situations where we’ve got to see how Dunbar, how they come back from injuries. It’s a pretty broad statement, but my feeling is that certainly if you look at the philosophy of the draft, that offense could not be addressed early if the best decision was to take a defensive player for the overall picture. We could not address offense early and be OK."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE QB DEPTH IN THIS DRAFT? (Garrett) -- I think it’s pretty good. There are some guys at the top of the draft who are certainly intriguing. But I think what’s interesting to me about this is that there are guys throughout the draft who are intriguing. I think you can conceivably take a quality quarterback in each of the rounds and at all different levels of the draft I think there are intriguing and interesting prospects."
HOW HIGH OF A PRIORITY IS IT TO FIND ROMO'S SUCCESSOR IN THIS DRAFT? (Jerry) -- "In this draft, it’s not a high one. Certainly not a high enough priority to make a bad decision or a forced decision. On the other hand, Tony won’t play forever, but you can get real problematic if you brought a quarterback in here, developed him, you saw enough in the next three or four years but he really never got in and played, and then there he is, as you know, the most that we can probably sign him for would be five if he were the first pick or four later on, at best keeps your rights to him. Well, he is sitting there and he is in the free agent market. And you have a multi-million dollar decision to make and you really haven’t seen him under fire. That could happen. That decision might deal you an awkward place 36 months down the road. I like to say in months just to remind me how quick that decision will come, rather than years. So you early or substantively on the quarterback position have a potential, not dilemma, but a real problem ahead. I don’t know and no one knows if Tony, or if anyone else on this team, is going to be without injury, without injury that will limit their playing time over the next several years. We do feel very good with how he is doing. Very, very good. I like the approach that he took to eliminate as much as, technically that he could address it, the fracturing of his left shoulder, not his throwing shoulder. That makes a lot of sense, pretty logical and I think has a chance to diminish the chance of reoccurrence of the fracturing. With all that in mind, I couldn’t sit here at all and have told you when they traded up or not, those two teams traded up or not (inaudible), if we were going to take a quarterback today. And I don’t think I could have told you the morning of the draft."
DO YOU STILL FEEL NO URGENCY TO GET AN RB THIS YEAR? -- "No, I don’t think we have to have a running back at all with McFadden, Morris and the possibility of Dunbar coming in and it doesn’t mean at all, and of course I don’t think you’re implying that, that we have to go early on a running back. There are some other running backs who could give you another opportunity to look at the future, but I think everybody has done some good work around here this spring and we’re not in a ‘have to’ situation at all on running back."
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO GET THIS PICK RIGHT? (Jerry) -- "First of all, there are periods of times since '91, one of the most expensive places in all of football to acquire personnel was in those top five or six picks. That was expensive going there. Now, it is a very important part of your roster to have a top player at that kind of money on your roster. That's the way it's designed. That's the way it was intended to be designed. Those early picks, you get the fifth year, you get an extra year on them. Those are of real value, real value. In the case of a running back, I could argue with you that those are the best five years of the whole time to have a running back relative to the overall makeup of what we deal with cap wise, injury wise, wear-and-tear wise, whatever you want to say. So, I do know that it's in vogue to pick running backs down and not emphasize it. It is actually is some value there, and some of the other positions. Back then, it was everybody, not everybody, but there was a real effort to get out of there. You made trades to get out there real good. The numbers on the corresponding value of other draft picks were outrageous what it took in draft picks to even get up in there. So, that was a purpose of the collective bargaining agreement was to get that more even which gave you more of a source of talent relative to your allocation under the salary cap. With all of that said, it certainly, in those years, you've heard me say before there were three years there where I think we had 8,000 points a draft to draft with -- 8,000. The other teams had about 1,500 or 1,600 points to draft with there for three years in a row. And, boy, you could really do some drafting when you had that going on during that time. And you could make some mistakes. We gave a two for Alonzo Highsmith that never saw the field. And I got three letters from doctors that said he'll never see the field. But yet we could spend a two for him. And you can go get Charles Haley with those picks there too. Different world when you're sitting there going into Las Vegas and not betting the baby's new pair of shoes. And, so, that's a different mentality. That's not where we are today. These draft picks are precious. They need to be as succinctly directed toward the acquisition of personnel that are playing as quickly as they can play. So, it's much different than it was in '91 and '92, those golden years. I'm glad we were able to take advantage of it, and plus you didn't have a cap in those early years. So, Jason's not operating in the same territory that his predecessors have been. Got a few more challenges."
IS THERE ANY INTEREST IN THE FOURTH OVERALL PICK? (Jerry) -- “well, earlier I had said that to the point – I think the key way to say it – is we really would use the pick this morning. We would use that pick for sure, that’s a good pick. We’re going to have a player because you assume those two quarterbacks are going to go ahead of us and have a really top, impact type player. On the other hand, if somebody, that’s where you feel if somebody wants to go up and still accomplish a lot with it, that’s the art of the deal there.”
CAP-WISE, HOW DO YOU HANDLE THE DEVALUATION OF RB'S? (Stephen) -- “I think it certainly comes into play. I think at the end of the day that’s what you measure. You measure what kind of value you’re getting under the cap cause these top picks are a lot less than what they used to be in terms of what they counted toward your cap and you measure it as to what a top player might be making if you had to go out and get him in free agency. So, you know, at the end of the day obviously you’ve seen that running back market come back rather than move forward. It certainly will come into play with where about you evaluate any of these positions, not only the running back position but the defensive end position, cornerback position, obviously we’ve looked at it in the offensive line position when we’ve taken these guys in the first round, so all of that comes into play.”
IS EZEKIEL ELLIOT A SPECIAL PLAYER? (Stephen) -- “Yeah, I think he’s worthy of being in the top 10 for sure. Where we ultimately end up with him is still a work in progress, he’s obviously a very quality type player and seems like he’s pretty much universally looked at as a guy who deserves to be in that category.”
HOW DO YOU EVALUATE JALEN RAMSEY? (Garrett) -- "He’s a great football player. He’s an impact player at the highest level. He’s been a guy that has played both safety and corner, and seems to me he plays them equally well. He shows up on the tape. He leaps off the tape. I got a chance to get to know him, I spent some time with him at Indianapolis. I spent some time with him here at Valley Ranch. I went and worked him out at Florida State. Highly endorsed by everybody at Florida state. He’s a great football player. No question about that."
BUT HE HAD NO TURNOVERS AT FSU? (Garrett) -- "The ball matters. You want guys to make plays on the ball. Sometimes when you play corner, teams have a tendency to throw the ball away form you if you’re a really good player. Deion sanders ran into that a lot throughout his career. They didn’t go at him very him. Typically, Deion made guys pay when they did go after him. So the number of times opposing offenses went at Jalen Ramsey is probably less than most corners. He’s an impact guy and covers in man to man, he covers in zone. He can rush. He’s just one of those guys who jumps off the tape at you and positively impact what they’re trying to get accomplished on defense and throughout the football team. He’s a real talented guy and an outstanding football player."
ARE YOU THROWING RESOURCES AT DE TO FIX IT (Stephen) -- "Unless a good offensive linemen that we couldn’t pass was there and we’d use him – not kidding. The point is, we had the opportunity to pick players that are really evaluated and have put together an outstanding group of players. It’s a team within it’s team – an offensive line. a lot of people think it sets the tone of what a team is from a physical standpoint and the nature of the team. We’ve got a couple of players in this draft that are really inspirational practice players. The corner got suspended from playing a regular season game because he was too aggressive at his own practice. Now who does that remind you of around here? I think Deion and Michael and those guys used to go at it, and both said the games are the easiest part. The practice against each other was the rough part. Ramsey does bring some of that to the table, and two or three others. If you’re up at the top of this draft, you really somehow like to come out with something like that. that’s hard to find. When you see one that is suspended and couldn’t play in the game because he was too rough on his own players, it’s a good sign that he enjoys the physical part of the game."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE THE ROSTER IS CLOSER TO 12-4 THAN 4-12 (Jerry) -- "Yes. Yes."