Cowboys grab sliding pass rusher Randy Gregory in 2nd round
Randy Gregory is confident the Dallas Cowboys won't have to worry about off-the-field issues that caused the former Nebraska defensive end with first-round talent to slide to the end of the second round.
''Because I know where my mindset is at,'' Gregory said after the Cowboys made him the 60th overall pick Friday night. ''I know I made a mistake. I know there is only so much I can say; talk is cheap sometimes. I really want to show these guys what I can do and I am really serious about what I say.''
Gregory tested positive for marijuana at the NFL combine in February, and acknowledged that he missed one meeting with a team and canceled two others. Some projections had him going in the top 10 before the issues arose.
''I personally had some great visits with him,'' said Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones, who indicated Gregory was the top pass rusher on their draft board. ''The bottom line is we're comfortable with that pick and if things work out, we've got a support system in place for a player of his caliber, that support system goes all the way to the top of our organization.''
Dallas added free agent pass rusher Greg Hardy in free agency. He's been suspended for the first 10 games over a domestic violence case from his time with the Carolina Panthers, although there's a chance the ban could be reduced.
Gregory and Hardy are joining a defensive front that includes interior lineman Josh Brent, who was suspended 10 games last year after his conviction for intoxication manslaughter in a crash that killed teammate Jerry Brown.
''We've got our arms around where he is,'' coach Jason Garrett said of Gregory. ''Clearly made a mistake at the combine. He's acknowledged that. One of the things that we really pride ourselves on is providing the environment for players to be their best.''
The 6-foot-6, 240-pound Gregory had a team-high seven sacks last season despite missing two games with injuries. He was first-team All-Big Ten his last two years with the Cornhuskers.
The Cowboys got Connecticut cornerback Byron Jones in the first round, giving them a cornerback and defensive lineman with their top two picks for the second time in the past four drafts. They moved up to get Morris Claiborne at No. 6 in 2012, but he's been a disappointment. Tyrone Crawford, a second-round pick that year, has blossomed into a likely starter at defensive tackle.
It's also the second straight draft Dallas took an undersized defensive end in the second round, after releasing all-time franchise sacks leader DeMarcus Ware in a salary cap move last year. DeMarcus Lawrence came in from Boise State and missed the first half of his rookie season after breaking a foot in training camp.
''I want to be the guy,'' Gregory said. ''Obviously, I wanted to be one of the top picks this year so I carry around that mentality. I definitely feel like I'm unique in myself and I can help out the team in different ways.''
Gregory said his pre-draft visit with Jones was like a ''father-son'' chat, and focused mostly on off-the-field issues. Jones has a history of turning trouble players into productive ones, including the last time Dallas grabbed a playing falling fast on the board. That was Dez Bryant in 2010, when Dallas moved up three spots from No. 27 to get him.
''I was kind of star-struck at first, but once I settled in, him and I really got to talking and I definitely felt like were on the same page,'' Gregory said.
The Cowboys picked tackle Chaz Green from Florida with the 91st overall pick in the third round. The 6-foot-5, 314-pound Green started 11 games for the Gators as a senior, nine at right tackle and two on the left side. He missed 2013 with a torn labrum after battling an ankle injury the previous year. He started 30 games in his career.
Dallas added Green after backup tackle Jermey Parnell signed with Jacksonville as a free agent.