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Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Cowboys won't use top pick on QB

By Jean-Jacques Taylor
ESPNDallas.com

IRVING -- As we move closer to next month's NFL draft, too many of y'all have become delusional about the prospect of Jerry Jones adding Johnny Manziel to the Dallas Cowboys' roster.

You talk about it in chat rooms and mention it on Facebook and Twitter. You call into sports talk radio shows and offer explanations for how and why the Cowboys must acquire Johnny Football.

Stop it.

It's not happening, OK? Johnny Football will play in the NFL next season, and he'll probably be a first-round draft pick.

Johnny Manziel
Johnny Football will play in the NFL next season -- and he'll probably be a first-round draft pick -- but not for the Cowboys.

But there is no chance of Johnny Football joining the Cowboys next season.

None. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Less than that really. Got it?

So don't pray about him falling to the Cowboys with the 16th pick in the draft. And don't waste time creating crazy trade scenarios for the Cowboys to get the No. 1 pick from the Houston Texans so they can make it happen.

And stop dreaming about how Johnny Football's style of play would lead the Cowboys to places Tony Romo can't.

For better or worse, 34-year-old Romo is your guy for the next three years. Maybe longer, since his $108 million contract runs through 2018.

It's not such a bad thing.

Sure, Romo drives you crazy with his penchant for screwing up in the clutch. But he'll also leave you shaking your head in amazement after yet another fourth-quarter comeback.

I had long considered the smart thing for the Cowboys to do was to draft a quarterback and let him wear a baseball cap and hold a clipboard for a couple of years before taking over for Romo.

You know, like Danny White did for Roger Staubach back in the day and Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers did for Brett Favre more recently.

That's antiquated thinking.

Tony Romo, Troy Aikman
Tony Romo is here to stay. The Cowboys haven't drafted a quarterback in the first round since Troy Aikman.

This team's roster is in bad shape. The Cowboys would have to be the dumbest organization in pro sports to use a draft pick in the first three rounds on a player who has no chance to play as long as Romo is on the roster.

Off the top of my head, the Cowboys need a defensive tackle; a defensive end; a safety; a guard or tackle; and an outside linebacker. They can't afford to waste a pick.

Besides, Romo has $55 million in guaranteed money, so the Cowboys can't even think of moving him for three years or it would obliterate their salary cap.

Let's be realistic. We know the Cowboys' philosophy about acquiring quarterbacks; we just don't like it. Since Jerry bought the team in 1989, only four of the team's 223 draft picks have been used on quarterbacks.

There was Troy Aikman in 1989, Bill Musgrave in 1991, Quincy Carter in 2001 and Stephen McGee in 2010.

No team has drafted fewer quarterbacks since 1989 -- not even Jacksonville or Carolina, expansion teams established in 1995. Or Cleveland, which re-joined the league in 1999. Or Houston, which began playing as the Texans in 2002.

Aikman has been the Cowboys' only first-round selection since Jones took over.

Meanwhile, of the 32 starting quarterbacks now in the league, 30 were selected in the first three rounds. Romo (undrafted) and New England's Tom Brady (6th round) are the only exceptions.

So you're lying to yourself if you think the Cowboys can draft a developmental quarterback with one of their compensatory picks in the seventh round and find a starter. The odds of picking a starter after the first three rounds are beyond slim.

It's clear the Cowboys will use a premium pick on a quarterback only after Romo leaves.

It makes sense. There's such an emphasis on the passing game in high school and college that quarterbacks no longer need an incubation period. You draft them, play them and live with the results.

And we'll experience that as soon as Romo retires.

Until then, you're going to have to trust in Romo, because Johnny Football isn't coming to the rescue.