Kyle Pitts is a name you've likely heard often connected to the Dallas Cowboys as the 2021 NFL Draft approaches, and rightfully so, considering he might be a generational talent. Even owner Jerry Jones told Pitts -- when the former Gator met virtually with Cowboys brass -- he envisioned "sugar plums" when picturing Pitts catching passes from Dak Prescott. Only two days ahead of the draft, however, Jones achieved his mission of alluding to the possibility of selecting Pitts and, in the same breath, contradicting such interest; or at least to the point they'd be willing to sell the farm to move him to Dallas.
So, which is it? Is Jones "infatuated" with Pitts as rumored in the draft mills, or are the Cowboys leaning toward defense over selecting the best player available when they go on the clock with the 10th overall pick? Good luck trying to figure out which.
"Don't be stupid over your needs," Jones said on Tuesday in the team's pre-draft press conference. "Don't be ridiculous."
to the possibility of adding Pitts, but wait, there's more.
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For one, Jones never said Pitts' name when making that statement. Additionally, Jones made it clear that reports of his "infatuation" with Pitts are a "distortion" and "not legitimate", going on to note the Cowboys will not mortgage their current and/or future draft to land him. Furthermore, when asked if they'd pull the trigger on Pitts should he fall to the 10th spot, the answer then was it would be "a discussion", as opposed to a definitive "absolutely." Overall, it feels as if the Cowboys would be just fine sitting at No. 10 and aiming toward their defense, a unit desperately in need and on a team who has two cornerbacks sitting atop their board -- namely Patrick Surtain II and Jaycee Horn.
The retirement of both Tyrone Crawford and Sean Lee only serve to exacerbate such needs, and at positions that were not addressed in free agency (Brent Urban being more of a 1-tech and not a 3-tech or edge rusher).
"[There's a] good chance to have a top defensive player -- the top, one of top -- be there at 10," added Jones.
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It's a train of thought mirrored by head coach Mike McCarthy, who can appreciate the beauty behind taking the best player available (BPA, and especially on the heels of seeing CeeDee Lamb fall into their lap one year ago; but also added there's a total of 55 years of defensive experience being lost due to free agency plus retirement announcements. And he doesn't want to set newly hired defensive coordinator Dan Quinn up to fail, having recently fired Mike Nolan after only one year.
"We all would like to go BPA," McCarthy said. "But we're building a football team and we have a new defensive coordinator."
With Director of Player Personnel Stephen Jones echoing the sentiment time and again, the reality is while the elder Jones might plant his flag for grabbing Pitts at No. 10, he'd have to first convince the Knights of the Round Table it's the wise move. There's still an ongoing myth that the Hall of Famer rules the Cowboys with an iron fist, but that's long been and often debunked. Between the younger Jones, McCarthy and VP of Player Personnel Will McClay -- roster building in Dallas is a collective conversation that doesn't always end with Jerry Jones vetoing the opinion of others in his trusted circle.
Just ask Dez Bryant: released not because Jerry Jones wanted it, but because The Others did.
What can be taken away from the Cowboys pre-draft presser is a few things, though. For one, yes, they understand Pitts is a dominant receiver, but they're not going to trade up to get him. Should he fall, they'll discuss picking him at No. 10 and see where everyone lands on it. Otherwise, if Pitts is gone as expected, and with the team recently noting starting tackles Tyron Smith and La'El Collins are "100 percent over their injuries" and ready to contribute "for years to come", there's a chance they'd wave off someone like Penei Sewell or Rashawn Slater and decide between Surtain and Horn -- feeling no need for a first-round grab on the O-line.
They are looking to add there, though, but likely in a later round.
"I don't think you ever pass up on O-line depth," said McCarthy. "... With 10 picks, I wouldn't be surprised if we use one on an offensive lineman."
And the same might apply to the quarterback position behind Prescott.
"We have [Cooper Rush, Ben DiNucci and Garrett Gilbert], and we're enjoying developing them [behind Dak Prescott]", McCarthy said. "But you definitely want to add some competition to the room."
That seems simple enough, especially when compared with the decision they face between either staying at No. 10 or trading back, staying at No. 10 and possibly waving off Pitts for a primo defender, staying at No. 10 and selecting Pitts then trading up for a primo defender, or staying at No. 10 and potentially waving off an elite offensive lineman for the same reason: helping Quinn.
In all, it's a great problem to have, because you'd rather be faced with the opportunity to make the right call without there truly being a chance to make a wrong one, and that's exactly where the Cowboys are heading into Thursday's festivities in Cleveland. With so many options, they'd have to truly be determined to have a bad draft in order to actually have one in 2021. As far as giving clarity to anyone outside of the organization before things get underway, though?
No dice, which is exactly how Jerry Jones wanted it.
"We are well prepared. I'll say that."