POST-DRAFT PRESS CONFERENCE: Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett’s final thoughts on the 2014 Dallas Cowboys Draft | NFL Draft 2014
Anthony Hitchens primary job will be protecting the Dallas Cowboys middle linebacker investment.
Owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he saw a player with size who could run in Hitchens, the Cowboys’ fourth-round pick. He also saw a player who could step in at middle linebacker if Sean Lee went down.
“We saw a guy who could definitely improve us from where we were last year when we lost Sean Lee,” Jones said. “Probably, for me, the most important thing is how much of a hitter he is. He blows them up.”
Some believe the Hitchens pick was a reach, but Jones and the Cowboys didn’t.
“I’d say that’s the difference in the eye of the beholder,” Jones said. “He was productive. I think the other thing is that he can play some weak linebacker. He’s obviously got the power and the other thing I can say about him is that he did a good job of dropping back in pass routes. I’m not saying he’s Sean Lee, but he can drop back and get back.”
Head coach Jason Garrett noted the injuries that have happened to their linebackers over the years. Sean Lee’s never stayed healthy for a full 16 games yet in his career. The Hitchens pick allows some protection if that occurs again.
“Guys get hurt,” Garrett said. “So you want to make sure you have enough numbers there, enough competition there so if something does happen to one of your topflight players you can survive and function.”
Garrett also spoke at length after the post-draft press conference about the linebacker position, and there could be more mixing and matching there. DeVonte Holloman and Kyle Wilber will both compete at the strong side linebacker spot, and it’s possible Justin Durant could shift over to the weak side linebacker spot to compete with Bruce Carter.
Ben Gardner, who injured his pectoral muscle at the end of his college career, should be ready to go when the team starts practicing, but there’s another draft pick who may still need some time to get fully healthy.
Jerry Jones said the draft picks are healthy, in general, but wide receiver Devin Street’s shoulder injury might be one to keep an eye on.
Street was limited on the bench press at the NFL Combine, but wide receivers coach Derek Dooley worked him out at Pittsburgh and the Cowboys felt comfortable with where the receiver was at.
“Street’s the one that got a little nick right at the end of the year,” Jones said. “We don’t know, he could actually come in here and do everything at OTA’s. He did three bench presses at 115 at the Combine because he had injured that shoulder at the end of the year. On the other hand, when we went to his workout… it looked ready to roll – his bench press.”
Ahmad Dixon wasted no time, both in his phone call with the Dallas Cowboys and in his conference with media, expressing his emotions and excitement regarding his selection.
There was a ton of silence during the Cowboys call to inform Dixon he’d been selected, and that’s because Dixon was emotional and soaking up the moment with family.
Jerry Jones said that call made him appreciate being in the NFL.
“How in the world do you get to sit here and be lucky enough to be having a conversation, it means that much to him, they’re that emotional about it, celebrating going on behind and literally having an emotional reaction to getting to be a part of the NFL,” Jones said. “I really had an emotional thing along with that. That was unbelievable. He was trying so hard to talk to me.”
Jones said one of the attractions to Dixon, who was taken in the seventh round, was the passion and emotion he plays with. The owner said when the Cowboys hung up the phone, everyone winked at each other and said, ‘That’s a good way to start coming in.”
Jason Garrett would agree.
“I always try to say, ‘It’s a great day for you, but it’s also a great day for us to add you to our football team,’” Garrett said. “But it really is a great day for these guys. You get drafted once. To think that you’re getting drafted into the National Football League by the Dallas Cowboys – it’s a fantastic moment.
“When you pick nine guys, sometimes you can be a little bit numb to that. I think, the conversation we had with him was pretty one-sided, but I think in a lot of ways it indicated how special this opportunity is for all of us. It was really a moment I won’t forget real soon.”
Jerry Jones said the Dallas Cowboys took a long, hard look at the available quarterbacks on Day 3 of the draft, but they opted not to pull the trigger. Surprisingly to many, several high-profile signal-callers slipped to the later rounds, prompting the thought that Dallas could take a late round flier on the likes of Georgia’s Aaron Murray or Alabama’s A.J. McCarron.
Jones wouldn’t get specific, but he said the Cowboys evaluated the position thoroughly before opting away.
“We couldn’t justify it — the way we needed numbers on defense,” he said. “We spent a lot of time on quarterbacks, the entire position, we spent the usual amount of time and evaluated every quarterback in the draft.”
“To tell you the truth, obviously we think a lot of Brandon Weeden – he got drafted in the first round for a reason,” he said.
Stephen Jones also confirmed the Dallas Cowboys signed West Texas A&M quarterback Dustin Vaughan during undrafted free agency.
(Michael) Sam Linebacker
Being one of the most high-profile figures in football, Jerry Jones was bound to field a question about the drafting of Michael Sam.
Sam made history Saturday evening when the St. Louis Rams made him the first openly gay football player to be drafted into the NFL, as they made him the No. 249th overall pick. Jones said the Cowboys didn’t give any consideration to his sexual orientation when evaluating Sam.
“I was happy to see him drafted because it just shouldn’t be an issue. It shouldn’t be an issue that we made of that,” he said. “I thought there’d be less of an issue made if he were drafted then if he wasn’t drafted, because we’re all aware of the reality that it was the focal point here of what he is relative to that part of the society issue.”
MEET YOUR NEW DRAFT PICK: Pro scouting report on Dallas Cowboys WR Devin Street | 5th round NFL Draft 2014
Devin Street | Pittsburgh | 6-3/198
Here is a quick scouting report on Pittsburgh wide receiver Devin Street.
Devin Street WR, Pittsburgh Combine Workout
Watch Pittsburgh WR Devin Street work out at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine.
(Watch | No MP3)
Secret Audio: Devin Street Selection Call
The Dallas Cowboys War Room calls Devin Street after trading up to select him in round 5 of the NFL Draft.
Devin Street: This Is The Team I Wanted To Go To
Devin Street joined 105.3 The Fan shortly after being selected by the Dallas Cowboys.
MEET YOUR NEW DRAFT PICK: Pro scouting report on Dallas Cowboys LB Anthony Hitchens | 4th round NFL Draft 2014
Anthony Hitchens | Position: Linebacker | College: Iowa | 6-0/240 | 4.74
He’s a compact looking player on tape. You can see that there is a lot of weight packed on his body. For his bulk, felt like there were some times where he was very physical at the point of attack and then others where he could have done a little bit better job with his shed. He’ll extend his hands. He does a nice job of finding the ball. Big fan of the way that he reacts. He’ll take on in the hole with his shoulder, then work to the ball.
When he lowers his pads, you see a much better player. There were some snaps where he unloaded on the ball carrier. There is some pop with him. He does a nice job of handling the puller on the trap. He needs to get off the block a tick quick at times, but something he will get better at. Will close down in the hole. He’s able to flow to the ball. There were times where he over ran the ball and was very aggressive.
When he can see it, he can make the play. He’s not a fluid-moving athlete in space when it comes to coverage. He’s more of open, drop and float. Didn’t see him drive back to put himself in position. Think he would be a much better player if he didn’t weigh 240 pounds. That might help his quickness, but he’s extremely tough.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Former NFL Scout
Related videos …
Secret Audio: Anthony Hitchens Selection Call
Anthony Hitchens: Fortunate For This Opportunity
Anthony Hitchens Conference Call
MEET YOUR NEW DRAFT PICK: Pro scouting report on Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence | 2nd round NFL Draft 2014
Name: DeMarcus Lawrence | Position: Defensive End | College: Boise State
Height/Weight: 6-3/251 | Age: 21
Honors: Lawrence was named first-team All-Mountain West during both of his seasons as a starter for Boise State. He was named second-team All-America and first-team All-Jayhawk Conference during one season as a starter for Butler Community College.
Key stat: The impetus for Lawrence’s decision to enter the NFL draft was probably the fact that he lived in the opposing backfield last fall. He finished the 2013 season with 10.5 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss for the Broncos.
How He Helps the Cowboys: Add Lawrence to the long list of pass rush prospects on the Dallas Cowboys radar. He would have to bulk up to join the defensive line rotation, but he could bring valuable depth to the defensive end spot. Lawrence probably isn’t rated as highly as other defensive end prospects we’ve profiled in this series, but the key is his availability. Top pass rushers like Jadeveon Clowney and Anthony Barr don’t figure to be in the Cowboys pick range at No. 16 overall, but Lawrence could potentially be had with their No. 47 pick. It’s doubtful he’d be a Day 1 starter, but he could blossom into a valuable pass rusher.
Scout’s Take: Plays with nice initial quickness. Uses a quick arm over move to get up the field. Will see him get double teamed at times but would like to see him disengage just a tick quicker. When he is one-on-one does a much better shedding the tackle and finding the ball. When he gets up the field, he can quickly retrace his steps. Will work to the edge and can get around the corner quickly. Will fight to work down the line.
Nice balance to chase the ball, plays on his feet. Will bounce off blockers. Will sometimes play as a standup guy. Has some initial pop with his hands. Had a tackle for loss on inside slant. Can get low to the ground to run around the corner. Works hard inside to get to the ball. Will chase to make play, can avoids blocks and burst to the ball. Shoved tackle out of way to shed for a tackle for loss against Utah St. Will try and spin to free himself, very active. Plays with a burst from the backside, quick off the ground, will rally to play. Used hands to shed. Really went after the ball.
Can hurry down the line. Held up at point. Can leverage the tackle, will fire his hands inside. Has some strength when he tackles. Oregon St tackle, tackled him on inside move. Can really run when it comes to chasing the ball, big fan of his ability to sharpen that corner. Plays that right end position that is key in this scheme. Like him a lot.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Former NFL Scout
Related videos …
DeMarcus Lawrence Combine Workout
Watch Boise State DL DeMarcus Lawrence work out at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine.
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DeMarcus Lawrence’s First Interview As A Cowboy
DeMarcus Lawrence: I’m Going To Put On A Show
THE COW-BOISE ARE BACK: Dallas Cowboys trade up and rope sack-artist DE DeMarcus Lawrence | NFL Draft 2014 – 2nd Round
IRVING, Texas – The wait wasn’t nearly as long or agonizing on Day 2 of the 2014 NFL Draft.
The Dallas Cowboys got in on the second round action early by trading their 47th overall pick and their No. 78 pick to Washington for the No. 34 overall pick. They used the selection on Boise State defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence.
The pick fills an obvious need for a right defensive end, vacated this spring by a sack artist of the same name – DeMarcus Ware. At 6-2, 251 pounds, Lawrence has been projected as a fit in several different schemes, but it’s evident Dallas will use him as a down defensive end.
Lawrence was a first-team All-Mountain West selection both of his seasons as a starter for the Broncos. He made a habit of getting into opponents’ backfields, as he finished the 2013 season with 10.5 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss.
Before landing at Boise State, Lawrence was a junior college standout at Butler Community College in 2011. He led Butler as a redshirt freshman with 27 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. He had one season of eligibility remaining at Boise State when he declared for the draft.
This is the third Boise State defender the Dallas Cowboys have taken in recent seasons. Orlando Scandrick was selected in the fifth round, No. 143 overall, in 2008, and Tyrone Crawford was taken in the third round, No. 81 overall, in 2012.
RELATED: Dallas Cowboys had Lawrence ranked as third best defensive end
IRVING, Texas – Two days before the draft, Jerry Jones had no problems admitting his desire to “replace Ware” in this year’s draft.
Today, Jones and the Dallas Cowboys definitely replaced their “DeMarcus.” Only time will tell if he can fill the void of DeMarcus Ware.
But Boise State pass-rusher DeMarcus Lawrence will certainly get the chance after the Cowboys made a bold move in the second round, moving up from 47th overall to 34th in a trade with the Redskins, who also received Dallas’ third-round pick. So on a night that was supposed to be a four-hour trek of Day 2 in the NFL draft, it lasted about 15 minutes before Lawrence was picked, ending the Cowboys night rather early.
According to the Cowboys, who admit they have several needs they’d like to address, yielding a third-round pick to land Lawrence was worth it, simply because it fills a need.
Dallas Cowboys director of player personnel Stephen Jones even admitted they might have overpaid for the 34th pick, but did so with the fear of losing Lawrence, whom the Cowboys had rated as the third pass-rusher on their board behind Jadaveon Clowney and Anthony Barr.
“He was the last guy we really had in terms of the right-end spot,” Stephen Jones said. “We knew we might have to give up a little more than maybe the charts read out. That happens sometimes when you want a guy and we really wanted this guy. We didn’t want to lose him. We worked through the deal. We sweetened the pot a little bit and got the deal done.”
Lawrence was one of the 30 players to visit the Cowboys’ facility in Valley Ranch back in April. In fact, he met up with Tyrone Crawford, who left Boise State the year before Lawrence.
“I felt like the Cowboys liked me a lot, but in the draft you never know where they’re going to go,” Lawrence said. “I’m just thanking God for everything and thanking Jerry [Jones] and the staff for trusting me.”
The Dallas Cowboys had some interest in both Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy and Lawrence, who had the edge because of his ability to play the right side, while Ealy’s position isn’t as clear, with the potential to play left or right end, and maybe even inside at tackle.
“There are only a handful of right-end guys in this draft. We felt like we needed to get an impact player in this draft,” Jason Garrett said. “He’s got very good pass-rush ability. He can bend and get to the quarterback and make plays. We think a lot of him as a player. The skill-set he brings in. There are a lot of defensive end in the draft but only a few in this draft that can play the right end.”
Obviously, the natural comparison between Lawrence and Ware is inevitable because of the names and position. But owner/GM Jerry Jones said the two are different in how they attack offensive tackles en route to the quarterback.
“What we’re looking for is somebody that has, first and foremost, natural pass-rushing instinct,” Jones said. “Not necessarily speed – speed doesn’t get it alone. It’s got to be somebody that just has a knack, a bending, a certain way to maybe a couple techniques. Rod (Marinelli) is high on this guy, I mean real high on this guy.”
After two days of the draft, the Dallas Cowboys have added Notre Dame guard Zack Martin, who will likely step right in on the right side and now Lawrence, who has the chance to compete for a starting job as well.
“After the first two picks we wanted to end up with a starter and a player that could really impact rather than not impact on both fronts – offensive line and defensive line,” Jerry Jones said. “We had various combinations there. We obviously were probably thinking defense first and offense second. We basically have ended up with certainly one of the three options that we had, and we probably addressed a more acute position as a pass rusher then what we were going to do with ‘Willie’ (weakside) if we drafted a linebacker there. So we probably got a better fit here.”
By losing the third-round pick, the Cowboys end Day 2 with just two players instead of three, and currently drops their overall draft-pick total to 10.
Tomorrow (Saturday), the Dallas Cowboys have a pick in the fourth and fifth-rounds and do not have a sixth, before finishing off the seventh round with six picks. Three of those are compensatory picks and are not eligible to be traded.