Jerry Jones: Byron Jones Pick Addressed ‘Dire Circumstances’
The Dallas Cowboys defensive secondary was in dire circumstances last season according to owner and general manger Jerry Jones. More specifically, at the cornerback position. And that was apparently part of the reason the Cowboys selected Connecticut cornerback Byron Jones with the 27th overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft on Thursday night.
Last season, the Cowboys active cornerback depth chart consisted of veterans Brandon Carr, Orlando Scandrick, Morris Claiborne, Sterling Moore and undrafted rookie Tyler Patmon. Then Claiborne suffered a season-ending knee injury in late September. His absence limited Dallas’ defensive options and the team was worried another corner could fall prey to the injury bug, leaving them shorthanded.
Jerry Jones cited that dire situation as one reason Byron Jones was drafted on Thursday night.
"“We were so fortunate last year to play and have Carr and Scandrick, and without Mo (Claiborne), not to have had an injury there with our corners. This was the closest thing to a position we thought we could get in trouble with was our corner,” Jones told media members during a press conference after the first round on Thursday night. “The next thing that we thought we could improve the defense as much as any place and do some things we haven’t done is to have a free safety-type roaming, so to speak. What you would really think of a free safety. So a combination of things happened here that really did address some pretty dire circumstances, numbers at corner. But it also allowed us to possibly do some things at safety. So, it had two or three things.”"
Outside of cornerback, the Cowboys also have heavy needs along their defensive line and at running back. But the fact Byron Jones has the versatility to play two different roles in Dallas’ defensive backfield trumped those other areas of need.
"“The most important thing is that we thought we could live if we didn’t strike well at pass rusher,” Jones continued. “In this draft is what I’m talking about. We thought we could live if we didn’t strike well at running back. The place where we did not think that we would feel good and sleep right is if we didn’t do something there in our secondary at corner in case Claiborne doesn’t come back. But also, at the same time, maybe give us a chance to do something special for our defense at free safety.”"
So, it appears the Cowboys’ draft strategy in the first round was the old ‘two birds, one stone’ philosophy. Despite the addition of Jones, Dallas still has major decisions to make in their defensive backfield.
Carr is one of the most under-performing, overpaid cornerbacks in the NFL. The Cowboys are expected to ask him to take a pay cut sometime this offseason. If Carr refuses, Dallas may decide to release him during June 1st cuts.
Scandrick may actually want more money as well. After skipping voluntary workouts recently, some have speculated the veteran corner may decide to holdout for a bigger contract.
Claiborne is rehabilitating from his season-ending knee injury. It is unclear if he’ll be ready in time for training camp, and there is the possibility he could miss part of the regular season. Due to it being the final year of Claiborne’s rookie contract, it is unlikely he will return to Dallas in 2016.
Moore left Dallas to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency this offseason. In his place, the Cowboys added former New Orleans Saints’ corner Corey White to the roster. White is expected to play the slot.
Finally, Patmon will be entering his second season with the Cowboys. The young man showed promise last preseason, and there’s a hope he’ll earn himself a bigger role in 2015.
Adding Jones to the mix give the Cowboys more options moving forward, as well as some much needed overall depth. But it’s still anyone’s guess what this defensive secondary will look like come September.
Next: Byron Jones: Dallas Cowboys Got An 'Intelligent, Athletic, Versatile Player'