‘All-time’: Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys elated after NFL Draft haul

Jerry Jones said credit the yacht.

“I don’t know why,” the Cowboys owner said late Saturday from aboard his Bravo Eugenia, which became his socially distant draft room of choice. “The old Moby Dick out there to the right and all of those added nuances just clear your head.”

The Dallas Cowboys drafted on much firmer ground than their owner sailed.

Seeming steal after steal fell to the Cowboys, at positions of need and positions of want. From a top receiver falling to the 17th overall pick to potential future cornerstones on both sides of the line, the Cowboys nabbed a deep collection of talent to bolster a roster that already had plenty. Dallas even shored up its secondary in middle rounds, beginning with drafting cornerback Trevon Diggs at spot 51 … after considering him for 17.

“He was in the one percent,” Jerry Jones said of models they ran on the Alabama back lasting until 51. “Diggs was in the one percent chance of falling to us there. One.”

Alabama defensive back Trevon Diggs returns an interception for a touchdown against Arkansas.

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Yes, Cowboys management knows: This sounds hyperbolic.

How many “blinking lights,” strokes of luck and mindblowing value can they credibly say they secured? And yet, other than drafting a sure to bet to star at safety, the Cowboys appear to have answered their roster questions solidly.

“You don’t want to say everything is a surprise,” Stephen Jones said. “But obviously when you’re targeting guys and you got guys that you hope might be there, it’s nice to see them show up.”

Here’s a breakdown of what the Cowboys consider their best draft haul in the last 15 years:

Round 1, Pick 17: Oklahoma WR CeeDee Lamb

The Cowboys never spoke to Lamb after the scouting combine in February. They weren’t going to trade up for Oklahoma’s star receiver, and their repeated draft simulations maintained he would not last until 17. When Lamb did, the Cowboys pounced—surprising both themselves and their new weapon. With Randall Cobb’s departure to Houston, Lamb joins Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup in a stacked Cowboys receiver room. They plan to scheme him flexibly, taking advantage of the dynamism that powered his 3,292 yards and 32 touchdowns in college—including his 21.4 yards per reception in 2019.

“You can’t have enough playmakers,” McCarthy said.

Round 2, Pick 51: Alabama CB Trevon Diggs

The Cowboys needed to replace Byron Jones, who cashed in with the Miami Dolphins during free agency. They also desperately need a ballhawk after tying for a league-low seven interceptions last season. Diggs fills both roles, bringing a receiver mindset — he used to play receiver like his brother Stefon of the Bills. The Cowboys like Trevon’s length, smooth hips and ability to recover.

“One hundred percent that’s what I feel like I’m best at,” Diggs said of creating turnovers, a key emphasis as McCarthy arrives in Dallas. “It’s like you have a wide receiver playing corner that’s really ballhawking for the ball. I don’t want pass breakups. I want interceptions.”

Round 3, Pick 82: Oklahoma DT Neville Gallimore

The Cowboys let both their starting defensive tackles walk in free agency. They signed veterans Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe to replace them. Gallimore will aim to be the newest prodigy of McCoy — a first-round selection, also out of Oklahoma, a decade prior. The Cowboys coveted Gallimore’s explosiveness, versatility along the defensive line and aggressive pursuit. Gallimore posted 7.5 tackles for loss, four sacks and two forced fumbles in 2019. And yet, Gallimore describes himself as “an unfinished process.” He’s eager to learn from vets like McCoy, who has already opened the line of communication as a mentor.

“A high-effort guy. A guy with the jack-of-all-trades,” Gallimore described himself. “Whatever you want, whatever you need from me, I will do just that.”

Round 4, Pick 123 overall: Tulsa CB Reggie Robinson II

Tulsa cornerback Reggie Robinson’s length and strength intrigue the Cowboys for a myriad of roles on the roster. They envision his potential at both cornerback and safety, as well as an asset on a special-teams unit that regularly hurt the team’s field position and scoring ability last year. At Tulsa, Robinson started 34 games and racked up 132 tackles, 34 pass breakups, four interceptions, three fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and four blocked kicks.

“I’m physical,” Robinson said. “I’m a hit-your-face type of corner. … I’m a press corner, I get in your face and I just harass you on the line of scrimmage.”

Round 4, Pick 146 overall: Wisconsin C Tyler Biadasz

The Cowboys wanted another Wisconsin center badly enough to make a deal with the devil (or, their NFC East rival Eagles). Dallas’ last Wisconsin center, Travis Frederick, retired in March after playing six seasons. He earned a Pro Bowl berth in five of those six. Injuries derailed Biadasz from the acclaim that Frederick (first round, 31st overall in 2013) garnered. But he’s studied his fellow Badger carefully and models his game after Frederick. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said McCarthy was adamant his team be “solid, solid, solid” at offensive line. “If that’s shaky,” Jones added, “you got to do some pretty good imagination to make the other work.” The Cowboys already have Joe Looney, Conner McGovern and Connor Williams in the mix to replace Frederick. But Biadasz will join that competition, whether his role manifests in 2020 or later. One area he channels Frederick?

“We have a grittiness to us,” Biadasz said. “We do a lot of dirty work. We take a lot of pride in that, and we know that a lot of the success is in our hands.”

Round 5, Pick 179 overall: Utah DE Bradlee Anae

The Cowboys thank Bradlee Anae for his 4.93 40-yard dash at the combine. It’s that speed (or lack thereof) that the 2019 consensus All-American believes contributed to his fall to Round 5. At Utah, Anae collected a school-record 30 career sacks and 210 sack yards. The Hawaii native led the Utes in sacks for three season and doesn’t pride himself on it.

“I take more pride in the work that it took to get there than the actual accomplishments,” he said Saturday. “I don’t like talking about it. I just want to go [and be] just a playmaker overall.”

Anae helps shore up the Cowboys edge rusher depth that previously hinged precariously on the reinstatement of suspended defensive ends Randy Gregory and Aldon Smith. He’ll look to DeMarcus Lawrence as a mentor while he develops. McCarthy’s scouting report on Anae: “Just a tough, hard-nosed [player]. … This guy, he leads the charge.”

Round 7, 231 overall James Madison QB Ben DiNucci

DiNucci introduced himself to McCarthy in a North Texas elevator in January. Three-and-a-half months later, McCarthy was intent on drafting a developmental quarterback — and the elevator pitch apparently worked. DiNucci played two seasons at Pittsburgh before transferring to James Madison, where he showcased impressive accuracy and ball security. DiNucci completed 70.9 percent of his passes last season for 3,441 yards and 29 touchdowns to six interceptions. He rushed for seven more scores, a scrambling ability he hopes to develop further behind dual-threat quarterback Dak Prescott. DiNucci said the Bears, Browns and Cowboys had contacted him about undrafted free agent offers. The Cowboys didn’t want to risk losing him.

“They said, ‘We don’t want to leave it to chance,’” DiNucci recounted. “‘If you make it to us in the seventh round, we’re going to draft you and make you a part of our team and Mr. Jones will give you the call.’”

Jones did.

DiNucci capped off a draft that left the Cowboys beaming.

“You don’t really know about these drafts for three or four years,” Stephen Jones said. “But as far as picking the last part of the draft and moving right on down, this one will be a hard one to beat in terms of resources versus how you feel about it.

“That one is going to be an all-time tough draft to beat right there.”

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.

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