Jerry Jones: Cowboys likely staying at 4, but QB/RB unlikely

IRVING, Texas (AP) Jerry Jones says he's inclined to stay at No. 4 with the Dallas Cowboys going into the NFL draft with their highest pick in 25 years.

Just don't expect the Dallas owner and general manager to be looking for Tony Romo's successor or the next Emmitt Smith in that lofty spot Thursday night.

Jones said Monday that drafting the replacement for Romo wasn't a high priority, and that the Cowboys weren't in a ''have to'' situation at running back.

Defensive end is the most glaring need for a team that went 4-12 a year after winning the NFC East in large part because of Romo's twice-broken left collarbone that kept him out of 12 games.

Randy Gregory will be suspended the first four games for violating the NFL substance-abuse policy, and Jones acknowledged that DeMarcus Lawrence is facing a suspension as well. Lawrence and Gregory were second-round picks by Dallas each of the past two years.

Former Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa will be a consideration for the Cowboys, but he had off-the-field issues with the Buckeyes, getting suspended for last year's season opener.

Besides the suspensions of Lawrence and Gregory, who tested positive for marijuana at last year's combine, Dallas also had a tumultuous season with Greg Hardy related to a domestic case that led to his four-game suspension in 2015. Those issues are not altering Jones' view on Bosa.

''His character issue would not be a factor in us drafting him,'' Jones said, repeating himself a couple of times when he pressed by a reporter.

Questions over whether Dallas would take a quarterback that high were answered when St. Louis and Philadelphia traded up to the top two picks, almost certainly to take Cal's Jared Goff and North Dakota State's Carson Wentz, not necessarily in that order.

Now the Cowboys must decide whether they want to find Romo's backup later in the draft, and perhaps someone who could replace him in several years. They tried that, without success, in 2009 with Stephen McGee - the only quarterback Dallas has drafted in the past 15 years.

''We could certainly in the right situation there on the board, we could pick a quarterback down from those first two that are logically thought to be picked early,'' Jones said.

Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott figures to be the first running back taken, and the Cowboys are likely to have that opportunity. But Dallas is just a year removed from devaluing that position enough to let 2014 NFL rushing champion DeMarco Murray go in free agency.

Dallas also added former Washington back Alfred Morris in free agency, with Darren McFadden returning after leading the Cowboys with his second career 1,000-yard season.

''I think he's worthy of being in the top 10 for sure,'' executive vice president of personnel Stephen Jones said. ''Where we ultimately end up with him is still a work in progress.''

Florida State cornerback Jalen Ramsey fits the profile Dallas prefers through the versatility to play safety, but he didn't force any turnovers his last year with the Seminoles. The Cowboys were last in the NFL in takeaways.

''They didn't go at him very much,'' Dallas coach Jason Garrett said. ''He's an impact guy and covers in man to man, he covers in zone. He can rush. He's just one of those guys who jumps off the tape at you.''

Asked if he thought his roster was closer to the 12-4 of the division-winning season than the reversal of a year ago, Jerry Jones simply said, ''Yes.'' And that means in addition to Romo, he's counting on strong returns from receiver Dez Bryant (broken foot) and cornerback Orlando Scandrick (torn knee ligaments).

''Am I naive enough to think that we're not going to have some injury? No, we'll have some injury,'' Jones said. ''You've got to count on something. Those are good to count on because those are proven winners.''

And he seems set on trying to find another one high in this year's draft.

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Follow Schuyler Dixon on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apschuyler

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