By Will Martin
Round 1 of the NFL Draft drew some pretty amazing numbers as fans and players alike wondered what the fate of certain key players would be. After three hours or so we would get our answers.
In the case of the Dallas Cowboys their pick at 16 was very much under the category of safe and common sense based. Did anyone else note just how quickly and abrupt the post round press conference ran? It almost appeared that perhaps the Dallas Cowboys had pulled the trigger on trading up for someone that was high on the Silver and Blue radar.
Moving forward would Jerry, Jason, and Stephen go offensively or defensively?
Initially Dallas had picks number 47 and 79 in the second and third rounds which we quickly learned would be given to the Washington Redskins in exchange for picking second in the 2nd round. Hence the 34th pick of the 2014 NFL Draft was acquired by the Dallas Cowboys.
We said goodbye to one Defensive End named DeMarcus (Ware) in January. Now we welcome a newer and younger Defensive End DeMarcus to Texas. Hailing from Boise State University, DeMarcus Lawrence is now part of the Dallas Cowboys fabric. This was the only pick Dallas would employ in the second round.
We now come to learn what the rationale was behind this pick from Jerry Jones, Jason Garrett, and Stephen Jones moments after the second round of the draft came to an end.
Was this the best football player named Demarcus who was available?
It’s ironic, and we did visit a little bit about that, but the answer is yes. All I can say is we sure were sensitive about making sure in our front four, there we three points of emphasis. In our defense, we want to really have as good a talent or potentially have [a player with] an elite aspect to their talent, and he had that. We identified that very early on, and we think we can develop that and potentially give us a chance to have what we need at that right end spot in our defense.
Did you have a first round grade on Demarcus Lawrence?
I will let these guys address a few of those things. I was impressed with his hands. I am impressed with the size. I like the way that he…his instincts regarding getting to the passer. We were able to get a good look at that, evaluate that, and at the end of the day that put him in a group of three players that were unique. They had [been drafted] well before he did. We certainly had him high. We basically, as you know, grade by, and have our board, by position. In the area of putting pressure on the passer, he certainly was a first round pressure player for us.
We just really liked him. He is a right end candidate for us. There are only a handful of right end guys in this draft. We felt like we needed to come up with an impact player in the front seven in this draft, and those impact players are high. They are first and second round players. He’s got very good pass rush ability. He has a quick get-off, he can bend, he shows that he can get after the quarterback and make plays when you combine his sacks and tackles for loss, and he’s just a very productive player over a two-year career over there in Boise. We think a lot of him as a player and the skill set that he brings in, the traits that he has to play right end for us. There are a lot of defensive linemen in the draft, but we felt that there were only a few guys that could play that spot that have that elite skill to be able to do that. He was one of them, and we feel really good about getting him on our football team.
Were you comfortable to trade up and give two picks away according to draft trade charts?
I think as Jerry said, he was the last guy that had in terms of the right end spot. There was one other player [available] that we thought could really help us on the defensive line, so there were two guys, and we thought there was a pretty good difference because of the right end flexibility that he can do. After going over it last night after the draft and going over it again this morning, we really felt like we wanted to help the defense, and we knew that we might have to give up a little more than the charts read out. As we all know, that can happen sometimes when you want some guy, and we really wanted this guy. The biggest thing was we wanted to get up there at the top because we thought that he could go because of his unique quality. We didn’t want to take a chance on losing him. We have a good relationship there with the Redskins with [Owner Dan Snyder] and [General Manager] Bruce Allen. We worked through the day on some things, and it eventually got time to start and we sweetened the pot a little bit and got the deal done.
Were you hesitant to trade with a division rival like you did with Philadelphia in 2009 when they drafted Anthony Spencer?
We don’t really look at it like that. I’m sure they could be concerned about the same thing, and yet they do deals too. Obviously we got Spencer, and Spencer has been a great player for us. That can cut both ways, and if you have confidence in what you are doing, then you feel like you are helping yourself through your division opponent. It depends on how you feel about the deal. Obviously you don’t do it unless you think that you are getting something more than you are giving up.
Did you trade for drafting the player or drafting the pick?
What we really look at is what we are giving up for that particular player. In this case it was a third round pick. We certainly knew looking at our board, and we were looking at our defense, that we really wanted to help, and we thought this guy was unique in terms of being one of the few guys on our board that could play the right end. We felt like to get a young guy coming at the spot that we really feel meets all the things you want in a right end it was worth it for us to give up that pick.
In picking a lane for Tyrone Crawford does adding Lawrence help the team to do that?
Absolutely it certainly shakes up the landscape of that defensive front. We’ve had a lot of discussions about where Tyrone is going to be for us, and we will continue those discussions and really put the depth chart together and see where we really want him to start. One of the great traits about Tyrone is his versatility. We feel like he can play outside or inside, and we will continue to use him in that way, but we do want to have a starting point for him and I think this will help us do that.
Is there a consensus on a starting point for Tyrone Crawford?
Again, we will have those discussions. I don’t want to say anything prematurely, but we will have those discussions pretty quickly, and we will get that stuff aligned as we go here on Monday.
Was there any concern over issues that Lawrence had at Boise State?
I just think it is something, you know our scouts do such a good job with all these players understanding where they came from and the circumstances behind any incidents they may or may not have. We are very thorough discussing those things, and we get our arms around them, or else we wouldn’t have them on our board. We talked it all through, had a lot of really good information, and we felt like those are issues that are in his past, and he is the kind of guy we want to bring to this football team.
Was DeMarcus Lawrence brought in to better understand the incidents?
We obviously had a real interest in him as a football player. Certainly when he is here and we have coaches talk to him, and I get a chance to talk to him and the Joneses talk to him and a number of other people get a chance to visit with these guys, we go through all those things one more time and hear the players’ sides of whatever those situations might be. Again, we try to get our arms around where they are, and if we feel comfortable enough with what happened or how we might be able to help the player, we put the player up on the board and we embrace him.
Do you agree with Lawrence’s description of his off-field issues as “childish behavior”, not a long term behavioral issue?
I think that’s how we saw these collectively with more of a maturity issue, and again, we felt these things are behind him and stuff that we’re comfortable with, or again, he wouldn’t be on our board.
Were you aggressive to go up to get Lawrence with the intention of replacing DeMarcus Ware?
Without getting specific to DeMarcus Ware and recognizing what DeMarcus Ware was, this was a neat pick. The need to have in this draft a player that either could put some pressure from the outside, or provide us a unique compliment to what we have inside and give us two people that have to be blocked. We hope this player, and we thought he was the only one we saw that was left on the board, that could draw two blocks on a pass rush situation. So that made him very exclusive, as far as we were concerned, and that’s why. There were a lot of defensive linemen left up there. A lot of those guys that could play the nose (tackle). And there were some left up there that you could maybe line up out there but maybe did not have at the level that we felt he had these elements of being a pressure right end. So this was the classic case of seeing a need. The question in my mind was just how much did you pay for it? Just how much would you go? Well, we’re going to see where (Washington’s) pick is and we’re going to see the player they’re probably going to use this pick on. That’s a good way to look at it. But we very thoroughly went over what we might have if we stayed in our place and what we wouldn’t have had is a guy that could rush the passer at right end and create the pressure we need on this defense. We’re thinking (Henry) Melton. We’re thinking possibly Crawford. We think these guys will give us our three-technique – or the technique that is a vital part of what (defensive coordinator) Rod (Marinelli) wants to do with the defense -the other vital part, the indispensable part, the part we didn’t have last year because Ware was injured most of the year. We hope what we can get from this is immediately our second and third down pressure player. We felt that deserved a premium in this draft.
Jason do you see any similarities with Ware and Lawrence?
I think it’s unfair to compare players like that. It’s interesting that they have the same first name, but that’s not what we’re in the business of doing. We feel like we have an opportunity in the draft to look at the landscape of players who can help us become better in the scheme we’re playing. We want to choose players who are our kind of guys; who fit into our scheme the best, and we felt this guy was the guy on board who best did that for us. We have to get better on defense. The way we get better on defense is improving our front seven and we simply needed to come up with a player we felt like could have an impact on our front seven. I think we’ve done a very good job in free agency addressing the need by adding (Jeremy) Mincey, (Terrell) McClain and we should have Tyrone Crawford back and some other guys who weren’t with us last year. But we felt like this is the kind of guy who has some of those traits to be a right end player who really could make a difference for us. Now we’ll see how quickly that happens. We’re very optimistic about his progress. Again, we see him as a second and third down pass rusher on day one. He’s one of those guys that can play in that kind of a role. We certainly see him as an eventual starter at the position, and again, we’re excited to have him on our club.
Are you comfortable with the inevitable comparisons Lawrence will get to Ware who was a ‘high character’ player off the field?
Is this the first year the team has categorized the defensive end position into left and right ends?
The answer is yes.
Are you done for the night? Could you move back into the third round?
We don’t want to discard anything. We’ll be open for business. We know that anything can happen. More than likely when you avoid a pick you’re the one going and you’re the one asking. Will we get some calls from somebody talking about a pick this year for a pick next year? We usually do. It’s a little early for that in the third round. But you’re liable to see some clubs notice that you don’t have a pick and throw some conversation out there.
After taking an offensive player in the first round was your mind set on getting a defensive player?
When we started this draft and we looked at these first two picks, we possibly looked at where you would be let’s say after two picks. We’ve got three draft picks, but 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. We had various combinations there. We obviously were probably thinking defense first and offense second. We certainly have ended up here with a higher pick then where we were or where we thought we would be with (Zack) Martin. 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. Those were what I thought we’d be looking at this point on the board. What I didn’t count on is after we’re through tonight is seeing two spots with three draft picks. That wasn’t necessarily the plan, but it was necessity by who came off the board and when they came off.
Is there something to drafting players out of Boise State?
I’ll start with that – I like the program. They do a good job. Crawford really feels good with this player and feels good about it. He was familiar with him. I don’t think they played (together), they just have mutual coaching associates. I know they didn’t play together, but felt really good about him, and since he’s going to be right there with him in some sense, form and fashion everyday, frankly endorsed him in a lot of ways and in every way we’ve talked in here with on the field and off the field.
We like Boise (State) guys. We always take a hard look at where the player has played, what kind of program (it is) and what that program is all about. They do a great job up there. It’s a very competitive program. The players that come out of there compete; they play hard. We’ve got two of them (Orlando Scandrick and Crawford), so we feel really good about how this guy has learned to play football and the environment he’s been in.
This 2nd round trade up, was this why Stephen Jones ran out of the room during the press conference last night?
DeMarcus Lawrence, welcome to the Cowboys. See you at the OTAs.