2014 NFL COMBINE REPORT: Dallas Cowboys VP Stephen Jones discusses team draft needs, salary cap, and contracts

2014 NFL COMBINE REPORT - Dallas Cowboys VP Stephen Jones discusses team draft needs, salary cap, and contracts

INDIANAPOLIS – Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones doesn’t want to focus on just one spot in the 2014 NFL Draft.

He didn’t deny the Cowboys’ obvious wants and needs on the defensive line, but he said Wednesday that teams get in a lot of trouble by narrowing their scope to just one position when it comes time to draft.

“You start targeting something and drafting for need, we all know that’ll get you in trouble,” Jones said. “It’ll be nice to come out of the draft at some point with a defensive front guy, defensive lineman or two. But no, I don’t think we can just say, ‘Hey, we’re going to take the first two picks and it’s got to be defensive linemen.’ I think you get in trouble that way.”

Jones said he wants players to be graded based on what they deserve, and he’s talked to the scouts about not grading players a certain way based entirely off team needs. He said the team has to fight that natural urge of grading by need. 

He also isn’t worried about getting under the cap, and he doesn’t believe the cap situation makes it impossible to sign Tyron Smith and Dez Bryant to longer deals.

“In some cases, it can help to do deals,” Jones said. “I’d read where someone didn’t understand it, because they said, ‘How did they do (Dan) Bailey? That hurts them this year.’ Well, it didn’t hurt us, it helped us.”

Jones talked at length Wednesday about a variety of other offseason topics as well, from possible restructures to extensions to injuries and scouting. Here’s some notes from those comments.

  • Anthony Spencer’s free agency leaves questions about his future with the Dallas Cowboys, but there’s also questions about his health going into 2014 coming off microfracture knee surgery. Jones said it still remains to be seen how healthy Spencer will be at the start of the year as he works the injury and goes through rehab, but he knows Spencer wants to play.
  • Jones said the biggest misconception about the draft room is that owner/general manager Jerry Jones just “sits up there and out of the clear blue just grabs a guy and says we’re going to take him.” He said that’s not how it works, and generally there’s a consensus about a player.

“We spend millions of dollars in our scouting department and we spend a lot of money on our coaches and everybody has tremendous input,” Stephen Jones said. “I think it’s a good system.”

  • The Dallas Cowboys got a boost earlier in the day by winning the No. 16 pick in a coin flip with the Baltimore Ravens, which Jones said can be valuable when trading back based off of trade charts.
  • Jones wouldn’t go into details about specific players’ restructures this offseason, but he said every player must be looked at to see the resources being allocated. He said there are still several scenarios, but he’s comfortable with where the team’s at and knows he still has time to get everything settled.
  • The fifth-year option on Tyron Smith’s contract has to be made by the spring, but Jones said that won’t take any urgency away from potentially getting a longer deal done with the left tackle.
  • Jones said he thought Sharrif Floyd was graded right (2013 NFL Draft) based on his talent, but it’s debatable if he was graded the right way based on the team’s system. The Dallas Cowboys ended up trading back and grabbing Travis Frederick in the first round rather than taking Floyd, who had a first-round grade. Jones said it can be tricky when a team changes a system, and the Floyd circumstances won’t happen again. He knows the team got criticized by some for the move, but he believes they ended up making the right decision based on their defensive system.
  • The Dallas Cowboys are looking at their hamstring problems and how to deal with the situation. He said no one’s happy with what occurred, and the team is looking internally to see how to improve the Dallas Cowboys injury problems. They’re also looking at how past teams have stayed healthy and are considering the age of players, their work habits and the shape they’re in.
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