Jerry Jones often feels the need to prove himself. And more often than not, it happens during the NFL Draft.
Jones, the owner, president and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys is more involved with the team’s draft plans than he should be. It’s just who he is. But there are few, if any teams, that operate the way that “America’s Team” does when it comes to the NFL Draft.
In past years, Jones has gotten defensive when questioned about how his team ranks particular prospects. Following the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, Jones was pressed about the Cowboys actually having their first-round pick in last year’s draft — Tyler Smith — ranked ahead of offensive linemen like Zion Johnson and Kenyon Green.
#Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wanted to prove that they had Tyler Smith over Zion Johnson and Kenyon Green. He literally took out their rankings and showed it to the camera.
Stephen Jones: "Don't show them that!!" pic.twitter.com/4Uuqv8C0vo
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) April 29, 2022
Jones pulled out a sheet of paper to show reporters that the Cowboys had Smith ranked ahead of Johnson and Green. While he shared a good laugh with reporters, his son, Stephen and head coach Mike McCarthy, Jones continued to insist that the Cowboys had Smith ranked ahead of those two guys.
“I’m dead serious,” he said.
Naturally, it happened again.
On Thursday, the Cowboys selected Michigan Wolverines defensive tackle Mazi Smith in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Following the selection, Jones was asked by a reporter how much consideration the team gave to taking a tight end or edge rusher with its first-round pick.
“That’s tactical with tomorrow ahead of us and the next day ahead of us, so I want to watch what we say here” Jones replied. “Last year, I showed you the damn draft board. I barely got back in the building by training camp. I was barred from the building…So, I’m not gonna give you the draft board this time here.”
The reporter continued to press Jones on the matter, saying that it was an opportunity for the Cowboys to perhaps take a skill player and they opted to take a defensive tackle instead.
“Let’s be a little careful there,” Jones said. “That wasn’t the angst that you might have thought it would, as whether offense or defense with this pick.”
The conversation eventually came back around to the Cowboys draft board and Jones asked Will McClay, the team’s vice president of player personnel, where Mazi Smith ranked on the team’s board.
Jones said he thought Smith was 13 or 14th on the team’s big board before he was pressed again by the same reporter.
“Just because you said, don’t make it so, right?” the reporter quipped.
Jones went back and forth on Smith being 13 or 14th on the board, before concluding, “Who gives a s**t?”
The Cowboys later confirmed that Mazi Smith was ranked 14th on their draft board. According to Clarence Hill of the Fort-Worth Star-Telegram, the Cowboys had only 11 players ranked as first-rounders, with Jerry Jones later saying that Mazi Smith was ranked ahead of all the tight ends on the Cowboys draft board.
So, there you have it.
Regardless of what he says, it’s clear that Jones does indeed give a shit about the rankings. He has in the past and he will again. The Cowboys would be better off if he was merely an observer in the draft room, but as long as he’s the owner, president and general manager, that’s never going to happen. And these interactions with reporters prove just that.
[Dallas Cowboys on Twitter; photo from Tim Heitman/USA Today Sports]