IRVING, Texas — Talk to members of the Cowboys’ front office, and it leaves the impression that nothing is off limits in next month’s NFL draft — not even quarterback.
Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones shared his thoughts about the draft on Tuesday at the NFL’s annual meetings. Among several musings was the idea that it might be the right time to consider a future replacement for Tony Romo.
"We do have to look to the future relative to quarterback," Jones said. "It’s starting a timeframe where a guy could come in and be a good backup."
That’s not to say the Cowboys are looking for Romo’s replacement in 2015. The veteran quarterback garnered MVP consideration in 2014, and he’s under contract through the 2019 season. Jones was quick to point out, however, that Romo spent four seasons in reserve before earning a shot to start.
"Look at how Romo evolved into the guy he is today," he said. "He did a little time with the clipboard."
With the 27th overall pick in the draft, the Cowboys likely wouldn’t be in the running for a first-round quarterback — even if they wanted to be. But with this year’s compensatory picks being announced in Phoenix, they did learn their full, official draft order. They’ll also pick 60th, 91st, 127th, 163rd, 236th and 243rd.
That equates to one pick each in the first, second, third, fourth and fifth rounds, as well as two picks in the seventh. Jones said one of his primary focuses in this year’s draft is to find true value after the marquee rounds have finished.
"I think to really focus on lower rounds. We should really evaluate those lower rounds," he said.
"We should feel good and I expect us to feel good about the third, fourth and fifth round picks."
Jones already acknowledged he’ll have his eye on running backs when the Cowboys are on the clock this spring. The addition of Greg Hardy to the defensive line also doesn’t eliminate the need for pass rushers, not to mention needs on the defense’s back end — or even some less-obvious needs.
"Priorities in a sense you can take the secondary, you can take the linebacker. You can go all the way down. I would not rule out an offensive lineman under some circumstances," he said.
As Cowboys coach Jason Garrett was quick to point out, the Cowboys have covered enough of their biggest needs in free agency that they should have freedom by drafting time. That ability proved valuable just last year in the selection of Zack Martin.
"For us to, at that point, the 16th pick of the first round, to have a guy that we regarded as the best player on the board – at a position that might not have been our No. 1 need – and to draft Zack Martin, I thought that was a really good decision by our team," Garrett said.