IRVING, Texas – Dallas Cowboys boss Jerry Jones oversaw a pre-NFL Draft press conference that he concedes featured “soft answers” regarding the team’s plans for this week’s selection process.
“Soft” is often another way of saying “revealing nothing at all.”
Oh, Jones did inform the world that his team is willing to trade down from the No. 18 selection of the first round in Thursday’s draft – and even suggested that the Cowboys are leaning in that direction.
There are reasons to for the club to make such a move. If the players Dallas has assigned first-round grades to are all gone by 18 — a distinct possibility as sources tell me the Cowboys have given that high of a grade to 16-to-18 players — it is proper “asset management” to trade down.
An example I bet actually gets discussed: Swap from No. 18 to San Francisco’s spots, netting the 49ers’ pick at No. 31 or No. 34 overall along with their No. 61 pick.
If the Cowboys execute a move like that and then pick players who don’t succeed, that’s not the fault of the strategy, which is sound. And this strategy will be in play if
A) those top 16-to-18 are gone (which means, among others, pinpointed prospects such as offensive linemen Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper) and if
B) teams slotted behind Dallas have a desire to trade up for a player available at No. 18.
The Cowboys are certainly not resistant to draft-day deals, having made 59 such swaps in the 23-year Jones era. They’ve moved up twice in three years (netting Dez Bryant and Morris Claiborne). They’ve also moved down using the valid strategy of valuing multiple picks … only to have too many of the selected players not pan out.
“I think we’ll be open to improving to where we are,” Jones said in the Monday presser. “There’s a lot of depth at certain positions in this draft and you could maybe get where you want to be at certain positions and gain some collateral there through a trade.”
There are therefore trade-down justifications. But it’s just as important to stay true to the board – as coach Jason Garrett termed it, “want(ing) to be ‘pure’ to the rankings assembled by the personnel department. And the unpredictability of other teams’ boards means that “purity” can also lead to a trade-up.
Meanwhile, Jones’ “announcement” of Dallas’ “plans” can be designed to put competing teams off the scent of the Cowboys’ true intentions.
And in that sense, Jones’ “prediction” might be as “soft-answered” as predictions get.