Cowboys go the safe route with OL pick
MAY 09, 2014 12:53a ET
Even more significant than picking Smith was who the Cowboys didn't pick: Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Manziel would have been the ultimate flashy move for the Cowboys and spotlight-craving owner/GM Jerry Jones. In another era, Jones would have grabbed Manziel and worried about the ramifications later.
Jones made his first fortune taking risks in the oil and gas business. He probably lost a fortune, too, along the way but that's the way a man like Jones deals with risk/reward situations: You have to risk to get the reward.
This time, Jones made the safe move by drafting Martin. It's clear that the coaches and scouts, and especially new Cowboys draft guru Will McClay, have much more influence on draft day.
No doubt, the pressure was building in the Cowboys' war room as Manziel slipped through the each selection. The buzz was certainly deafening on social media as the clock ticked down to the selection.
The firestorm of interest as the Cowboys were on the clock, with Manziel free for the taking, is just a fraction of the media coverage Jones' team would have gotten if Johnny Football wore a star on his helmet.
Instead, the Cleveland Browns will have to deal with the media headache after taking Manziel at No. 22.
The Cowboys, who already have a media army following them, probably won't have to issue more press passes because of their No. 1 pick.
Martin is a solid selection at No. 16. A four-year starter at Notre Dame, Martin can fill an immediate need at guard and eventually move to right tackle opposite Tyron Smith.
Picking Martin doesn't fill the Cowboys' most dire need - improving their dreadful defense - but it does create a the foundation for a young and talented offensive line with former No. 1s Smith and center Travis Frederick.
That should ease some of the stiffness in 34-year-old quarterback Tony Romo's back, which is healing from its second operation in a year.
It appears the Cowboys settled on Martin after the defensive players they most craved were off the board. From the body language in the war room, it appeared the Cowboys were trying to trade down from No. 16 but didn't get the offers they liked.
In the end, it should work out well for the Cowboys. They got a solid, safe choice in Martin, who as a former Notre Dame captain also appears to be the kind of character guy head coach Jason Garrett desires.
In passing on Manziel, the Cowboys couldn't have done a better job than picking an offensive lineman. Whoever the Cowboys picked instead of Manziel was going to be constantly compared to Johnny Football, but most fans can't tell you if an offensive lineman has a good game. It's going to be more difficult for the skill players selected ahead of Manziel.
Even so, some fans will never forgive the Cowboys for passing on a player with Manziel's star power. But the complaint for years has been that the Cowboys have plenty of stars and not enough players.
For Jerry Jones to pass on a player who would make him millions in ticket and T-shirt sales says volumes about the way things are being done now at Valley Ranch.
Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire