What's This 'Splash' The Cowboys Are Planning In Round 1 of NFL Draft?

Mike Fisher

FRISCO - It's a reputation created by the Herschel Walker trade. "Trader Jimmy.'' "Trader Jerry.'' "Oh, those Joneses are just crazy enough to do anything!''

That was 30 years ago, but the Jones family's willingness to "do anything'' via the trade market lives on, probably forever.

That's likely the top reason that every year, right around this time, media people hustle to note that owner Jerry Jones wants to make a "splash'' in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft.

And right on schedule ...

"I can tell you this,'' writes Tony Pauline at the website "Pro Football Network.'' "A source close to the team told me, “Jerry wants to make a big splash in the draft.” That leads me to believe Jones could look to trade up from the 17th overall pick.''

Aggregated coverage of the Pauline report attempts to add weight to the story by mentioning as an example Jerry's much-ballyhooed desire to take QB Johnny Manziel in the 2014 Draft.

There are some problems with this reputation-driven hot take, however. Specifically regarding Manziel, as we've reported often: That was never really a draft-night consideration. Dallas had two names written on cards to be turned in at No. 16. One card said "LB Ryan Shazier,'' the other "OL Zack Martin.'' 

When Shazier was taken by Pittsburgh at 15, Dallas didn't hesitate in taking Martin, who immediately became a perennial All-Pro guard. That's a fact, no matter how much story-teller Jerry has milked a Cowboys "connection'' with the celebrity Manziel in the ensuing years.

And the other problem: Deep-rooted reputation notwithstanding, Dallas has now gone six straight years without orchestrating a first-round-related draft-day deal. In 2013, the club dropped to 31 to take center Travis Frederick. But otherwise, it's been stand-pat on Martin in 2014, Byron Jones in 2015, Ezekiel Elliott in 2016, Taco Charlton in 2017, Leighton Vander Esch in 2018, and no pick in the first in 2019 (the result of the Amari Cooper trade).

For years, I've joked with and about Jerry on the matter of his annual pre-Draft press conference in which he'll leave wide-open the possibility of a "move up or "move down,'' with me prodding him to make sure to mention a "move sideways,'' too, just to emphasize every possible "splash.''

But that's the Cowboys' reputation. But for the last six years, it's not been the Cowboys' reality. More viable: The Cowboys want good players at good value. That's it. That's the "splash.''