Might not be bad year for top-10 pick

IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys are looking at drafting in the top 10 or the first time since 2003, and Jerry Jones cannot believe it.

“In general I’m very disappointed and very surprised that we’re sitting here with this team with the kind of draft pick we may get,” the owner and general manager said. “We all know what that means. That’s surprising. I would’ve never thought I’d been sitting there adding it up of where you might draft this year. And that’s not fun. I’m not licking my chops at where we may get to draft … We’re going to be drafting ahead of Arizona for sure, for what that’s worth. That says it all for me right there.”

Why not embrace the chance to improve the team in 2011 and beyond? Yes, this has been the most disappointing season in franchise history, but if Jones believes the Cowboys can be a playoff contender in 2011, as he said Monday, then having a top-10 pick is not a bad thing.

And this year it might be a very good thing if a rookie wage scale is put in place. Jones loathed high picks because of the price he would have to pay an unproven player. That does not figure to be the case this year if (or when) the NFL and NFL Players Association come to a deal on a collective bargaining agreement.

The Cowboys have all sorts of needs but offensive line will be at the top of the list. In the last five years there have been nine tackles taken in the top 10. Guys like D’Brickashaw Ferguson of the New York Jets, Cleveland’s Joe Thomas, Miami’s Jake Long, Jacksonville’s Eugene Monroe and Washington’s Trent Williams have performed well. St. Louis Jason Smith, Seattle’s Russell Okung and Arizona’s Levi Brown have some questions. Cincinnati’s Andre Smith has flamed out.

Predicting who will be picked where in December is difficult, but this could be a thin year at offensive tackle. Scouts Inc. and Mel Kiper do not have an offensive tackle listed in among their top 10 players at present. Colorado’s Nate Solder is considered the top tackle, however, Scouts Inc. and Kiper currently have five tackles with first-round grades.