SMARTIN’ MARTIN OVER MANZIEL: Dallas Cowboys season ticket holders conference call with Stephen Jones | Team commitment to Tony Romo
It’s been five days since the Dallas Cowboys chose to pass on Johnny Manziel and draft Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin, but it’s still a topic among Cowboys fans.
Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones was asked about the move today during a conference call (see below) with Dallas Cowboys season ticket holders.
“We just felt like at the end of the day, as talented as he was, and we had him high on our board in the first round, but we have a quarterback, a great one, in place in Tony Romo,” Jones said. “We had enough confidence to guarantee him almost $50 million on an almost $20 million extension. And that extension starts this year. We really made the ultimate decision, Jerry [Jones] did, that it was in our best interest to put players around Tony to make him even better and give him a shot to go win a Super Bowl, which is what everybody’s goal is in this organization. We certainly felt like we did that in Zack Martin.”
Jones views Manziel as an immediate starter in the NFL, adding that he doesn’t think the Heisman Trophy winner has the patients that Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers displayed, sitting behind Brett Favre for three years before becoming the Packers’ full-time starter.
Jones compared passing on Manziel to the 1998 draft when the Cowboys passed on Randy Moss. Nineteen other teams also passed on the seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, but the Cowboys are the team that’s remembered most.
“I’m sure Johnny Manziel is going to have a great career,” Jones said. “We wish him nothing but the best, but there’s no doubt in my mind, we made the very best decision we could for the Cowboys in terms of what is going to help us get to a Super Bowl the soonest.”
RELATED: Tony Romo ‘ready to take the next big step’
Tony Romo has been throwing at Valley Ranch during voluntary workouts. He’s also on schedule to take part in organized team activities this month.
During the conference call with season ticket holders (see below), Dallas Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones said he’s confident that Romo will be fully healed by the start of the season.
“He’s actually progressing great,” Jones said. “He’s on schedule, if not ahead of schedule. He’s throwing the ball around. We think he not only will he be ready for opening week, he’ll start up at training camp and be ready to go.
“He’s obviously a tremendous competitor and in our mind, he kept us in it all season long with a defense that was obviously depleted with injuries, and he had us playing to win the NFC East in the last game of the year. Had he been playing in that game, I think that game may have gone a different direction. We’re certainly fired up about him.”
“We got a great quarterback in Tony Romo, who I think is ready to take the next big step,” Jones said. “Get him hot and get us in the playoffs and anything can happen.”
Dallas Cowboys Season Ticket Holders Conference Call
Season Ticket Holders Conference Call with VP Stephen Jones | 57:49 | Every year Dallas Cowboys season ticket holders get the opportunity to join in on a conference call with a Cowboys coach or executive. Listen in as they had a chance to sit down with Cowboys VP/COO/Director of Player Personnel Stephen Jones just shortly after the Dallas Cowboys 2014 NFL Draft.
POST-DRAFT PRESS CONFERENCE: Zack Martin will help Dallas Cowboys bolster offensive trenches | Secret Call from War Room | 1st round NFL Draft 2014
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys could’ve grabbed the most polarizing, high-profile quarterback in the 2014 NFL Draft. Instead, they protected the franchise quarterback that Johnny Manziel would have sat behind to start his career.
Tony Romo can breathe a little easier coming off back surgery knowing the Cowboys stayed put with the No. 16 pick and continued to bolster the offensive line, selecting Notre Dame’s Zack Martin.
“It means everything,” Martin said. “I couldn’t be happier to come down to Dallas and be a part of the great organization, this great storied organization. I’m very excited to come down there and start competing.”
Martin, a 52-game starter in college, gives Dallas three first-round picks on the offensive line and adds another youthful piece to a completely revamped part of the team. A part of the team considered a weakness a few years ago is now rebuilt with Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Martin.
Head coach Jason Garrett said the best teams in the league can control the line of scrimmage by building their infrastructure. He believes the Cowboys have done that with their recent first-round picks.
“We had a great start with that by drafting Tyron Smith, added to that last year by drafting Travis Frederick,” Garrett said. “We feel like Zack Martin’s in the same mold of those kinds of guys. We just think he’s a darn good football player. We evaluated him against some of the other guys all across our draft board. He consistently came up as one of the best players in this draft.”
That doesn’t mean the Cowboys refused to listen to offers.
Each team gets 10 minutes to make their selection in the first round, and Jones said the Cowboys spent around eight or nine minutes evaluating offers on the phone.
At first, Jones described them more as “semi-offers.” He came back to say there were technically some firm offers, but none the Cowboys were willing to bite on. Eventually, Jones and the Cowboys decided to add to their strong presence on the line with Martin.
He’s the third first-round pick the Cowboys have used on an offensive lineman in the past four years, and his ability to play both guard and tackle gives Dallas options now and in the future.He’ll begin his career as a guard, according to Garrett.
For Martin to start on the interior, he’ll have to beat out one of last year’s starters in Mackenzy Bernadeau or Ronald Leary. Garrett didn’t want to declare whether Martin will begin as a right or left guard, but believes he has the instincts and intellect to play across the line.
Martin, a tackle at Notre Dame, demonstrated his ability to bump inside with ease at the Senior Bowl.
“A lot of people argue he can play all five spots on the offensive line,” Garrett said. “So, initially we’ll give him a chance to work inside as an offensive guard and see how he holds up there.”
After last year’s struggles on defense, that side of the ball’s been hailed as the priority heading into the draft. But many of the Cowboys’ prime targets fell off the board prior to the selection, including Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald, UCLA pass rusher Anthony Barr and Ohio State outside linebacker Ryan Shazier.
Jones said those three defenders, along with Martin, were their top targeted players at No. 16.
All the safeties in the draft were still on the board when the Cowboys picked, as well as the most dazzling quarterback prospect on the board. Speculation started to build as Manziel, a player some believed would be too intriguing for the Dallas Cowboys to pass on, began to fall down the board.
But Jones and the Cowboys didn’t want a quarterback.
Jones said Romo, by contract and the Cowboys commitment, will be the quarterback in Dallas for years to come.
“There’s no way any quarterback comes in here and beats out Tony Romo,” Jones said. “We were strong in the quarterback position, in our minds. The fact that Martin was there mitigated any consideration of a lot of things.”
That doesn’t mean Manziel’s presence at No. 16 didn’t come as a bit of a surprise.
“I was surprised, yes,” Jones said. “But what I was even more surprised is the fact that he was there didn’t bring on a bonanza of offers that would have given us, maybe, more options. I was also surprised, frankly, that we had the option to take Martin.”
As the draft shifts to Day 2 and the second and third rounds, the biggest needs remain on defense. Jones wouldn’t eliminate the possibility of another offensive pick, but after finishing last in the league on defense, he admitted the team needs a defensive player more than an offensive player.
Garrett’s also aware of the needs, but he’s glad the Cowboys were able to snag Martin.
“You want to address your needs, but you want to address your needs with the best players available,” Garrett said. “We felt like we did that today.”
MEET YOUR NEW DRAFT PICK: Pro scouting reports on Dallas Cowboys OL Zack Martin | 1st round NFL Draft 2014
Name: Zack Martin | Position: Offensive Tackle/Guard | College: Notre Dame
Height/Weight: 6-4/308 | Age: 23
Honors: Martin was named a team captain his final two seasons and helped pave the way as the starting left tackle for the Irish to reach the BCS national championship game in 2012. He was named the MVP of the Pinstripe Bowl in 2013 and was on the Lombardi Award Watch List and Outland Trophy Watch List beginning all the way back in 2011.
Key stat: The Notre Dame lineman started all 52 games from 2010 to 2013, primarily as the left tackle, setting a new team record among offensive linemen. Despite his stability on the left side of the line for the Irish, some believe he still has the ability to bump inside at the next level.
How He Helps the Cowboys: While the focus heading into this draft and free agency will undoubtedly be on the other side of the line, the Cowboys could still use some help and depth on the inside of their offensive line. The upside with Martin is he has the flexibility to be used inside or outside. If the Cowboys want him to play guard, they can utilize him there until they believe he’s ready to take on the best pass rushers in the game as an offensive tackle.
MEET YOUR NEW DALLAS COWBOY: America’s Team takes “Midwestern Mauler” over “Mini-Manziel” | Notre Dame OT/OG Zack Martin picked at Sweet Sixteen | NFL Draft 2014
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys had a chance to pick the highest profiled player in the 2014 NFL Draft.
But instead, with the 16th overall pick, the Cowboys committed to the offensive line for the third time in four years. Dallas selected Notre Dame’s versatile OT/OG Zack Martin, the first guard taken in the draft.
By doing so, Dallas passed on Johnny Manziel, the Texas A&M quarterback who has been projected to go anywhere from the top three picks to even later in the first round.
Martin (6-4, 308) is expected to play guard right away but could perhaps move out to offensive tackle and even center, if needed.
He started 52 consecutive games for the Fighting Irish, winning MVP honors in the 2013 Pinstripe Bowl. Martin was on several Watch Lists including the Lombardi Award and Outland Trophy.
In 2011, the Dallas Cowboys drafted Tyron Smith with the ninth overall pick becoming the first offensive lineman taken in the first round since 1981. Last year, the Cowboys took Travis Frederick with the 31st pick in the draft.
Dallas Cowboys select Zack Martin with Sweet Sixteen pick | The Dallas Cowboys select Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin with the No. 16 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Video courtesy of NFL Network. (Watch | No Audio)