Final Draft Review

With just five picks and bevy of holes to fill, the Cowboys entered the 2004 NFL Draft with a primary focus of trying to acquiring more selections. Two weeks and four trades later, the Cowboys believe they accomplished their mission.

The Cowboys not only increased their total number of picks from five to eight, but they found much needed impact players at running back (Notre Dame's Julius Jones) and right tackle (USC's Jacob Rogers) in the second round. They improved their depth at tight end with Boston College bruiser Sean Ryan in the fourth round.

And while not necessarily achieving their goal of finding a potential starter at right corner, they did add numbers to the position with Georgia's Bruce Thornton in the fourth round and Rutgers' Nathan Jones and Purdue's Jacques Reeves in the seventh round.

Jones and receiver Patrick Crayton, a seventh round pick out of Northwestern Oklahoma State, are explosive returners who could make immediate impacts on special teams.

And these "successes" are without even considering the enormous possibilities of Saturday's bounty of getting a No. 1 pick in 2005 from the Buffalo Bills, who also gave the Cowboys second and fifth round picks this year in exchange for the team's first round pick.

Owner Jerry Jones can't stop gushing about his excitement over having two first-round picks in next year's draft. But he says the Jones-Bill Parcells draft day swap meet was proof that the trade with the Bills to move out of the first round this year has already paid dividends.

The Cowboys used the extra fifth round pick from Buffalo to trade down New Orleans and acquire a sixth- and seventh-round selections.

The Cowboys then traded the sixth round pick from New Orleans to Oakland for two seventh round selections.

They then traded the seventh round pick they got from New Orleans to Tampa Bay in exchange for a later pick in the round and second-year fullback Darian Barnes.

Jones sincerely believes the litany of moves helped improved the Cowboys for next season.

They certainly made upgrades in the running game, a team goal since the end of last season.

While there are questions whether Julius Jones was the best running back in the draft, the former Notre Dame star is an improvement over incumbent starter Troy Hambrick. The speedy Jones has big-play potential to go along with the strength and shiftyness to carry the ball on an every down basis.

However, the Cowboys would have had little chance to improve their running game if they didn't address their many holes in the offensive line, especially at right tackle. Rogers has the size and ability to step right in and play immediately for the departed Ryan Young.

Add into this improved running game mix is the now expected return of disgruntled guard Larry Allen. The Cowboys were unable to trade him during the draft. And barring an offer they can't refuse, which Jerry Jones doesn't expect to get, the Cowboys owner said Allen would back at left guard when the veterans report to minicamp in June. Jones said cutting Allen is not a possibility.

Two others moves during the draft that were made with the running game in mind were the drafting of Ryan and the acquisition of Barnes.

Tight end was not a need position with Jason Witten and Dan Campbell already in the fold. But this selection speaks to how Parcells likes to play football. Ryan gives the Cowboys another physical blocker in the running game and Barnes is a punishing blocker who also can play special teams.

But while the numbers at cornerback suggest that the Cowboys might have potentially found a replacement for Mario Edwards, Jones said the selections were more about increasing numbers at the position rather than trying to find an immediate impact player.

The Cowboys had only five players at the position, including Pete Hunter, Jameel Powell, Andrew Davison, Terence Newman and Donald Mitchell. And they needed more numbers headed into training camp.

Jones said they would have liked to address cornerback earlier in the draft but were unable to do so. In the end, he said it was fourth among the team's list of priorities beyond running back, offensive line and kick returner. Jones said the Cowboys may add a veteran cornerback in June or during training camp but allowed that the team was comfortable with finding a starter to play opposite Newman from group Hunter, Mitchell, Powell and Davison.

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