Cowboys Draft Presser: Before We Read Between The Draft Lines - We Read The Lines

Before we read between the lines of the Cowboys pre-draft presser, we've got to ... well, read the lines. Here they are, Jerry, Stephen and Garrett with all the words from Valley Ranch:

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."

ARE YOU DRAFTING FOR NEED OR TAKING BEST PLAYER AT FOUR? (Stephen) -- "I think it’s the best player. At the end of the day, you get a chance when you’re picking this high to get a player who makes a difference for a long period of time. To compromise that to go down the line to pick a guy just because you need a certain position, would probably not be the right decision. Doesn’t mean you wouldn’t have a good one, but if you happen to believe there is a great player _ and I don’t know if that will be the case, but if there is one _ then, through our hard work, the scouts hard work, the coaches hard work that we deem to be special, then I think you have to take that over need."

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."

Jerry -- "But Clarence, maybe we ought to get you in there. I hadn’t heard that that there wasn’t that much difference up there versus the ones down the line. (Jason laughs uncontrollably, for Jason)"

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."
Stephen -- "I think we have. We have done a really solid job. You always say we need something at one spot more than another. But at the end of the day, I think we have done a good job."

Jerry -- "I think we can draft any player at any position and go out here and compete at a level that was better than and the results be a lot better than it was last year based on the expectations that we had going into the year. But that is assuming we have a little better luck with our health than this past year. But given that, we can draft any player regardless of the position and line it up and compete at the kind of level that might get you there.

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."

Jerry -- "His character issue would not be a factor in us drafting him. Would not be a factor in us drafting him."

EVEN WITH THE ISSUES WITH YOUR LAST TWO DE'S? (Jerry) -- "I said his character issue, if you want to cast that in character, would not be a factor in whether we draft him or not. Doesn’t that answer it? What you’re saying?"

WITH THE SUSPENSIONS, IS THERE A CULTURE PROBLEM? (Garrett) -- "We are absolutely responsible for every player on our football team. And I take that responsibility 100 percent. I think if you look at the football team we built here over the last five years, it’s as good a character team as I’ve been around in my life. If you think about the guys that we’ve drafted, Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, Byron Jones, Mo Claiborne. Add those to Witten, Sean Lee, Tony Romo, I can keep going on and on and on and on. We have unbelievable character people in our locker room. And I think if you look at our season last year with a lot of the different adversities that we had, I think you saw that character come out. We didn’t win enough football games. We all know that. But I’m proud of how our team played, how our team fought, how our team came to practice, what they represented when they went out on the field on Sunday afternoons. The results weren’t what we want. We understand that. We’re accountable for that. But their character came through. We have had some issues here. A couple this year. We had a couple last year. We had one the year before that. And those are real issues. We are accountable for those. I do think they’re isolated incidents with individual guys. In some cases, they made a mistake. It’s not really a part of what their character is. And that’s something that we have to address. We have to do a better job in our evaluation process. We have to do a better job once they’re here. They have to do a better job. We’re all responsible for it."

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."

WHY DID YOU CONTINUE TO WORK OUT GOFF AFTER THE TRADE? (Stephen) -- "I think you can never do enough work. You can always speculate and think that that is what’s going to happen, but things change. We have been in the draft many times where guys show up there that you never thought you’d see. And so, eventually when you are sitting at No. 4, you can never do enough diligence and do enough work and just assume certain things are going to happen. I think that’s how you get yourself in a lot of trouble."

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 LIKE YOU CAN DRAFT A GOOD BACKUP QB? (Jerry) -- "That’s not talking out of both side of my mouth, but I do, but I also want to think about what I just said and we want to think about it, what we just said because the real consideration is not only time invested in him and the issue when you get down to the end of the road, but you also early passed on a player who right now could make a play who might win a game for us now, and we’ve had those, to get the potential for a quarterback, (inaudible) … all those are considerations, the bottom line is yes, we could certainly in the right situation is there on the board, what is there and what’s not there, we could pick a quarterback down from those first two there."

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."

Stephen -- "I would add that we’re not in a have to situation on any position, and that’s why, as Jason said so well, that’s why we did what we did in free agency, signed a couple of defensive linemen, signed a few of our own guys back and that’s why hopefully when we’re sitting there and our time comes to pick, we pick the best available player in our mind, so I don’t think that we have to do anything in any position."

 "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.”

Jerry -- "There’s a ton of difference, it’s daylight to dark on putting 50 or 60 million of dollars of resources to put your team together. It’s called cap. It’s a ton of difference to put it on a back that has no carries in the NFL than putting it on one that has five or six years and that’s just life. As much as anything, that factor has diminished the value of running backs, the obvious position it takes a lot of physical wear and tear. We’re proud of the veterans we’ve got. We are proud of them. We think they can get the job done. The idea of having a top talent there that you know how much it’s going to be involved and all that goes to it, you know all of that can change what is very obvious, and running backs have been diminished. There is another way to look at it. You look at it at what will ultimately be the biggest impact on your team. Just because we didn’t do Murray, just because we have running back by committee, just because we have veterans as we’ve said, doesn’t mean at all that we’re not in the running back business."

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 THERE OPTIONS AT QB AFTER THE DRAFT? (Stephen) -- "I think there are. There’s usually opportunities in players and what’s going to happen in this draft. Some people will, and it could be us being one of those guys, taking a quarterback that maybe loosens up another quarterback somewhere else. Of course, there’s constant talks throughout the offseason of people who want to move quarterback and haven’t moved them yet. We know there are those opportunities out there. For whatever the reason, we weren’t able to secure a guy we were comfortable with, I do think there are other options out there that we can add depth to where we are, as to where we sit today."

DOES DE TAKE LONGER TO DEVELOP TO MAKE AN IMPACT? (Stephen) -- "Every player is different. You don’t know what is going to happen when you turn them loose. Players respond differently to different systems. As we all know, there doesn’t necessarily have to be one guy getting pressure on the quarterback. Seattle has been really successful, winning a super bowl and won another back to back and they got pressure through a variety of players on their team, waving defensive linemen through. Rod, it’s one of the things he’s really good at is using all the defensive linemen to get pressure. If we don’t have a guy that is a 15-20 sack guy it doesn’t mean we don’t get pressure on the quarterback. I think every player is different. Some guys are ready to walk in and ready to work and some guys it takes a little time. the key is finding the guys that can step right in and help."

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."

ARE YOU ITCHING TO MAKE A SPLASH OR DOES STEPHEN HAVE YOU LOCKED UP? (Jerry) -- “I’ve had some wow and I’ve had some lesser times and the time I want is holding that trophy up. Sometimes you have to wait and be a little patient. I’m very pleased with the job that frankly Stephen and his personnel department and where we are managing-wise. We may not have the huge amounts available under the cap but if we see anything we want, we can get it and not be paying too big of a price in the future for it. That’s a great place to be. I wish I could tell you that there was a magic formula on how to gauge just how much you should or shouldn’t have, there is not. I feel real good about the veteran players we got. I feel good about the mix of young players we’ve got. I feel good that we’ve left our options open. And for the type of balance between offense and defense, I think we can get there. Now that’s arm-waving to some degree and that’s not drilling down as much as you want to drill down. We need help from this draft, in my mind, to be really what we’ve got a chance to be. But when you’re sitting at the fourth pick, you’ve got a chance to get some help, you can get some real help. I feel real good about all of it. It doesn’t bother me at all. People know we’ll shoot and people know we have some bullets to shoot with if we want to, so I don’t feel like you got to prove anything about making a statement here in the offseason. We want to get up there and win more games.”

ARE YOU MORE CONFIDENT WITH DEZ, SCANDRICK, ROMO COMING BACK? (Jerry) -- “Tremendous, a very significant amount of how good I feel about next year is based on having all of those players on the field, and not have the injury from those specific ones. Now, that’s getting pretty narrow there, so you can be that way. Am I naïve enough to think that we’re not going to have some injury? No, we’ll have some injury. Everybody does. But if we could simply keep, let’s say Romo healthy, if we could have the year we wanted to have from Dez, and obviously Scandrick was a big loss, and Dunbar. Dunbar’s return back could be a significant part of that. You say well that’s dreaming, well if that’s dreaming then it’s dreaming to sit here and look at this entire roster and count on anything. You’ve got to count on something. Those are good to count on because those are proven winners. Every one of those players can win football games and as teammates together, really be successful. That’s a little more than really just putting some new names out here and seeing how they would play together. I feel real good about counting on that aspect when I say we can have the type of competitive team that we thought we were going to have the year before.”

IS EACH PICK INDEPENDENT OF ANOTHER ROUND? (Stephen) -- “I think that’s a very good question and it’s correct. I think you do look, and if it’s close, let’s go back to cornerback/defensive line, if you think there’s going to be more of one position than the other as the draft goes on and it’s deep in that area then you might lean toward, if it’s close, the other position. I think that’s very fair. I think that’s part of knowing your board, part of knowing the draft, you want to be very aware with what’s going on on your roster in terms of who is going to be free agent next year, who is going to be a free agent the year after, are you going to plan on committing some resources to re-sign that guy versus another guy who is going to be free next year. You may be content to let him go on down the road short of a seat change, so I think that’s a very good question and that does go on.”
Below, the Monday CowboysCast in which we discuss how Dallas has drifted away from the idea of QB in the first round ... but is still talking offense ...


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