Cowboys go for best player available

IRVING, Texas -- When the NFL draft's first round ended Thursday night, Dallas Cowboys' officials were pretty happy with their work.

In the war room, there was national scout Walter Juliff pumping his fist with what was accomplished: The Cowboys selected Notre Dame tackle Zack Martin with the 16th overall pick in the first round.

While the Cowboys had wanted to upgrade their defense, three players projected in the middle portions of the first round were gone. UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald and Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier were off the board.

The Cowboys took the next best player in Martin.

"We basically look at draft strategy, what was in the best interest of the team," Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said. "It's no secret we'd like to have some defense in this draft, but as I think I mentioned the other day, I keep going back to that, you have to have an outstanding draft and you have to have an outstanding player or two in it. If in fact the right one drops down there and is at the right price, and helps us out a lot, and we needed help in our interior."

Jones said he spent approximately nine minutes talking with other teams about potential trades, none for quarterback Johnny Manziel, who slipped out of the top 10 and later went to Cleveland at No. 22.

Instead of going for a need pick, the Cowboys didn't try to force the issue and went with the best player available. With Martin, the Cowboys have a player who will start at guard his rookie season before moving to tackle in the future.

Coach Jason Garrett said he likes to create competition at several positions and doing it for the offensive line only enhances the team's depth, as well as the roster.

"We felt like we had needs going into this draft," Garrett said. "You want to address your needs, but you want to address your needs with the best players available. We felt like we did that (Thursday night)."