Cowboys finally address 2 needs after moving down
IRVING, Texas (AP)
Jerry Jones stuck to his pre-draft declaration that the Dallas Cowboys wouldn't be ``hostage to any position,'' despite obvious holes on the offensive line and at safety.
The Cowboys owner backed that up with his first two picks of the NFL draft, trading up to get receiver Dez Bryant and linebacker Sean Lee.
On the third day, Dallas finally addressed its two primary needs after moving down and getting an extra pick.
Dallas got defensive back-kick returner Akwasi Owusu-Ansah from NCAA Division II Indiana-Pennsylvania with the 126th overall pick Saturday, after sliding down seven spots in a fourth-round swap of picks with Miami. That also got the Cowboys an extra pick in the sixth round, which Jones used on Notre Dame offensive tackle Sam Young at 179th overall.
``We've got some players that will play immediately,'' Jones said, reiterating the decisions to go with Bryant and Lee before the other picks.
The Cowboys also Saturday got Texas Tech cornerback Jamar Wall with their other sixth-round pick, 196th overall. They selected 6-foot-3, 298-pound defensive tackle Sean Lissemore from William and Mary with the 234th overall pick in the seventh round.
After Dallas made the last of its six picks, only the second time in 10 drafts with that few, Jones said he planned to sign a large number of rookie free agents - as many as 16 or more.
Plus, Jones was going to look for veteran free agents at safety and offensive tackle to add depth.
``In both cases, we'll probably still look,'' Jones said. ``If a veteran situation really interests us, then we'll pursue that.''
Needing to add depth after releasing five-time Pro Bowl left tackle Flozell Adams and safety Ken Hamlin earlier this month, the Cowboys instead used their only two picks in the first three rounds for a receiver and a linebacker.
Third-year player Alan Ball is considered a primary factor in replacing Hamlin. Ball started three games Hamlin missed while injured last season. The Cowboys also have veteran safety Gerald Sensabaugh, a restricted free agent Jones has said he wants to sign to a long-term contract.
Owusu-Ansah saw time at cornerback and free safety at IUP, where he had nine returns for touchdowns in his career (four punts, three kickoffs, one interception, one fumble). The Cowboys plan to use the 6-foot, 207-pound Owusu-Ansah as a safety.
``I feel real comfortable. Most of the plays I made as college were at safety,'' Owusu-Ansah said. ``They told me to get ready to compete and it is going to be a grind.''
Owusu-Ansah, whose parents are from Ghana, was born in Gainesville, Fla., and grew up in Columbus, Ohio. He didn't play organized football until eighth grade, then was a high school running back who didn't get any Division I scholarship offers, though he is still a big Ohio State fan.
Hampered by a dislocated left shoulder last season, Owusu-Ansah had surgery last month and expects to be fully recovered in time for the start of training camp in late July. He will still be part of the team's rookie minicamp next week and other offseason work though he won't be able to have any contact - ``It will be a more mental minicamp for me,'' he said.
With the addition of Bryant from Oklahoma State, the Cowboys have given receivers Patrick Crayton and Sam Hurd permission to seek trades. Crayton had 37 catches for 622 yards and five touchdowns last season and was also the team's primary punt returner, averaging 12.1 yards per return with two TDs.
Lee, who missed 2008 with a torn ligament in his right knee and three games for Penn State last season with a sprained left knee, joins an impressive group of Cowboys linebackers with Bradie James, Keith Brooking, Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Ware. Lee will be on the inside of the 3-4 system with James (181 tackles last season) and Brooking (156).
Another offensive line option is offensive tackle Robert Brewster, a third-round pick last April who didn't get to play for the Cowboys last season after suffering a torn pectoral muscle.
Young was a four-year starter at Notre Dame, where the 6-foot-7, 305-pound tackle became the first player in school history to make his collegiate debut as a starting offensive lineman and the only Irish player to start 50 consecutive games.
``I've worked my butt off to get where I am and you play the game to be involved and not watch from the sidelines. So I will definitely be doing all I can as far as trying to get on the field,'' Young said. ``Coach (Charlie) Weis definitely prepared me on the Xs and Os and the offense he ran. And he won two Super Bowls with it.''
Young, from the same Florida high school as Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin, said he doesn't care whether he plays on the left or right side for the Cowboys.
``I'm one of those guys, if you put me in, I'll do it,'' Young said. ``If you want me to play quarterback, I'll do that.''
The Cowboys certainly would rather have Young protecting Tony Romo.