Cowboys Flawed Plan on Defense: Squeeze Byron Jones, Draft for Help

Mike Fisher

If you’ve read our coverage of the Dallas Cowboys position on Byron Jones, you are not stunned to hear COO Stephen Jones’ lukewarm position on its free-agency pursuit of him. And if you’ve read our coverage of the NFL Draft, you know about our hatred for what Dallas is suggesting it is about to do:

Draft a position rather than draft a player.

First to Byron and more indication that he’s a salary-cap odd-man out behind fellow free agents Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper.

“Byron is a guy we think a lot of,” Stephen said of Byron, the 2015 first-rounder and the team’s top corner. “He’s had a great run at corner. He’s played really well, played at a high level.

“That’s the hard thing when you have quite a few good players on your football team is you get challenges. Byron understands that. But at the same time, he’s worried about Byron, as he should be.”

There are a lot of ways to say “goodbye.” Assuming Byron has a chance to become the NFL's best-paid corner, or something near that, this is goodbye.

We can debate about whether Dallas is right or wrong its judgment of Jones as what we'll call a "second-tier star,'' and if Denver or Philly pay him $15 mil APY, we'll debate whether they got it right. 

But here's the wrong part. In Stephen's next post-Byron breath, he hinted at emphasizing defense in the upcoming NFL Draft. This is wrong. Every time. Wrong even if Byron leaves. Wrong even though this is a deep draft for corners. Wrong because teams that are smart enough to draft B.A.A. (say it with us, "Baaaaaaaa!'') - that's "Best Available Athlete'' - do so knowing that "needs'' change on a dime in football.

And therefore you simply do not draft for need.

If Byron Jones says his goodbye and Dallas says hello to a replacement early in the NFL Draft, that will be a solid plan under one condition: The player selected at No. 17 or wherever truly merits that perch - and not because of the flawed concept of "need.''