IRVING, Texas – Finally the NFL draft is here and the Cowboys are scheduled to make the 14th pick overall in the first round.
Why 'scheduled to?' Because you can never rule out a trade from owner and general manager Jerry Jones, especially after he did not make one last year.
On Wednesday, Jones said the Cowboys have played through scenarios in which they would move up for a player or two. And he said the team has fielded and made calls about moving around in the first round.
The needs are clear: everywhere on defense and offensive line. Jones said the Cowboys are not held hostage by any position, which means they have set their board in a pure fashion based on a player’s ability and not on the team’s needs.
The key targets: Alabama safety Mark Barron, LSU defensive end Michael Brockers, Stanford guard David DeCastro, Alabama linebacker Donta Hightower, Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, Mississippi State defensive end Fletcher Cox.
Which teams are likely to affect the Cowboys’ first-round pick: Buffalo (No. 10), Kansas City (No. 11), San Diego (No. 18).
Recent draft bluster has the Bills interested in Barron at No. 10 and possibly the Chiefs a pick later. The Chargers have needs at wide receiver, offensive line and safety, which could make them a trade-up possibility.
If key targets are gone: Look for the Cowboys to trade down. However, there has to be a team willing to trade up. Kirkpatrick could be a fall-back option at No. 14 if the team is unable to move down. Jones has a history of wanting to accumulate more picks but in the past he has gotten too cute and left the Cowboys with poor drafts (see 2009).
What about the other rounds? Rounds 2 and 3 will be held Friday, and Rounds 4-7 will be held Saturday. The Cowboys have picks Nos. 45, 81, 113, 135, 152, 186 and 222 entering the draft.
Look for the Cowboys to lean toward defense even if they use their first pick on a defender. They need defensive end, defensive tackle, outside linebacker and cornerback help. Offensively, they are in need of help at wide receiver and tight end in addition to the offensive line.