To everyone’s surprise, Johnny Manziel was still available when the Cowboys went on the clock, and fans assembled at AT & T Stadium for the team’s Draft Party were begging that Jerry Jones and Company select Johnny Football with the pick. It had been considered a long shot from the beginning, but Jerry Jones had said earlier in the week that he was comfortable with Tony Romo and didn’t need a quarterback.
Dallas did pass on Manziel and drafted Offensive Tackle Zack Martin out of Notre Dame. Interestingly enough, one of the early questions from the Dallas media to Jerry Jones was about how hard it was for him NOT to draft Manziel.
“The fact that we got [quarterback Tony] Romo more protection with that quality of player took any of the positives…There’s no way any of the quarterbacks comes in here and beats out Tony Romo. We know that. There we had an outstanding starter that could really come in and immediately come in and help us do what we needed to do. I said the other day we are strong at the quarterback position in our minds, and the fact that Martin was there mitigated any consideration or a lot of thinking about whether or not you ought to go with Johnny. As you well know in here, Romo is by contract as well as by commitment is certainly the quarterback for the Cowboys for several years to come. There is no moving around that. I don’t care who you draft, that’s the way it would have been. That was going through our minds from the get-go. That’s why we didn’t spend a lot of time at all in this draft considering Manziel.”
Coach Jason Garrett was asked if drafting 3 offensive linemen in the last 4 years was by design. “We believe games in the National Football League are won up front. If you look at the best teams in the league now and for a lot of years, they are able to control the line of scrimmage on the offensive side of the ball. We did that for years here when we won championships here in the ‘90s. You need to build the infrastructure of your team, and we feel like we’ve got a great start with that with Tyron Smith and added to that last year by drafting Travis Frederick. We feel like Zack Martin is in that same mold of those kinds of guys. We feel like he is a darn good football player. When we evaluated him against some of the other guys all across our draft board he consistently came up as one of the best players in this draft. We had an opportunity to get him at 16, we felt like it was important to be disciplined. We felt like we had needs going into this draft. You want to address your needs, but you want to address your needs with the best players available. We felt like we did that today.”
Garrett was also asked what the plan was going forward with Martin. “He was a 52 game starter at Notre Dame; thirteen games a year for four years. He’s been a left tackle for them but played inside at the Senior Bowl and did a very good job there. People believe he can play center and a lot of people argue he can play all five spots on the offensive line. Initially we will give him a chance to work inside as an offensive guard and see how he holds up there. Again, he got very favorable reviews from the Senior Bowl with him working inside. He does have a lot of position flex and a lot of experience playing outside. We feel like he can play across the board on the offensive line. We don’t want to declare right or left right now. He played principally on the left side in college, but he has shown position flex. He is a smart football player; he is an instinctive football player. He has played a lot of snaps at a high level, and we feel like he’s a guy who mentally he can handle it and athletically he can handle it. At the end of the day we are going to put him in and mix him into the competition we have up front, and we are going to be a better offensive line, a better offense, and we will probably play better defense the better we play on the offensive line. We will be able to run the ball better and control the football a little more. We just think he is a darn good football player. I’m really excited to have him on our club.”
Jones was asked again later in the presser to explain his reasons for not taking Manziel. “I think that Tony [Romo] has everything to do with this decision. We have a big commitment to Tony. We feel that anything we look at at quarterback would be down the road and in the future in the development of that quarterback. If you look at the difficult dynamic giving up this player that really enhances what we can do on offense and what Tony can do for the future, just on a pretty quick consideration didn’t make sense. That was the driving force behind it. John Madden once told me when I was talking to him about this idea of personalities being involved with the Cowboys, and he said ‘Jerry, the Cowboys have all the flash and have all the visibility that you could ever conjure up. Make your decisions; get the best players and coaches that win the games. You’ve got all the rest of it. You don’t need to have big time flash to be involved in the NFL and be successful in the NFL.’ I’ve always remembered that. No, it frankly was not even a thought. This was such an obvious football period, how to beat San Francisco coming up here real soon, decision. The idea of flare, flash, show business, all that kind of thing, was never even a consideration here. We never discussed that type of thing.”
Hopefully, the selection will prove to be a good one. Cowboys’ fans are tired of the never-ending 8-8 mediocrity the team has settled into, and so far, there is not a lot of excitement that the team will be better than that this upcoming 2014 season. Maybe the Dallas scouts and decision makers know more than we think they do. If so, then just maybe the team can get to 10-6 this season!