Cowboys owner Jerry Jones: ‘Not legitimate’ to say I’m infatuated with Kyle Pitts in NFL draft

FRISCO, Texas — Cowboys owner Jerry Jones deems the conversation “not legitimate.”

Sure, like other evaluators across the NFL, Jones marvels at the mismatch nightmare Florida tight end prospect Kyle Pitts threatens to pose. But Jones says the ESPN report characterizing him as “infatuated” with Pitts overestimates how much the owner/general manager is actually willing to act upon said admiration.

“It is a distortion for this draft and where we are there,” Jones said Tuesday from Cowboys headquarters at the Star during the team’s pre-draft news conference. “It implies something that is just not the case.

“We’re not going to go in there and spend an inordinate collateral or value to maneuver up there so that we can get to him.”

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Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is interviewed on the sideline. (Photo: USA TODAY Sports)

The Cowboys are scheduled to be on the clock Thursday night with the 10th selection of the 2021 NFL draft. Pitts is expected to land with a team at least five or six spots earlier after a season in which he exploded for 770 yards and 12 touchdowns in just eight games. Pitts averaged a whopping 17.9 yards per catch.

“I’ve got a good assessment of whether or not Pitts could help us win a Super Bowl or not,” Jones said. “Anybody in this draft is impressed, probably an exaggeration as fascinated.”

But after the Cowboys wallowed at 6-10 in head coach Mike McCarthy’s inaugural season, they sorely need to address their historically bad defense. In that regard, Pitts joining an early run of offensive selections could work to Dallas’ advantage. Cornerbacks like Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II and South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn top Dallas’ most likely defensive selections.

“I think that we’ve got a good chance to have a top defensive player,” Jones said.

With early run on offense expected Thursday night in #NFLDraft, Jerry Jones confident Cowboys will be in position at 10 for “the top or one of the top” defenders.

That draft positioning was “gut-wrenching” to earn, executive vice president of player personnel Stephen Jones said, but it should portend well for the team's talent collection and cap considerations. The Cowboys have selected in the top 10 just once since 2012, when they took running back Ezekiel Elliott fourth overall in 2016. Should they nab a defensive back with their top choice, the team also will heavily emphasize ball skills.

“As far as the length and the short-area quickness, I’m very focused on the ability to make plays on the ball,” McCarthy said. “I think the ball skill grade is something that we pay close attention to, because it’s about the football. Turnover differential is the most important focus of our football team outside of winning the game.

“That will be reflected in all of our defensive players, especially defensive backs.”

With expectations that Surtain or Horn will be available at 10, the Cowboys could simply opt to give 2020 second-round selection Trevon Diggs a partner in crime at cornerback. It’s a security new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn would probably appreciate after the Cowboys let recent starting cornerbacks Byron Jones (Dolphins, 2020) and Chidobe Awuzie (Bengals, 2021) depart in free agency.

On CBs Patrick Surtain and Jaycee Horn, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says being son of NFL player does influence his consideration.

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But Cowboys brass won’t assure the decision is that straightforward, the entertainer-by-nature Jerry Jones instead reiterating that “what’s exciting about the 10th pick is you could very easily get an opportunity to do something unconventional.”

Cowboys fans need not think back further than 2020, when the Joneses were shocked to find Oklahoma receiver CeeDee Lamb—sixth on their board, they said—available at pick 17. It was a “blinking light” too bright to pass up. He joined a receiver room with Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup.

Could the Cowboys bite again? Stay tuned.

“The real thing to do is don’t be stupid over your needs,” Jerry Jones said. “Just don’t be ridiculous.”

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein

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