Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones did the unthinkable by holding up a copy of the team’s draft board while defending their selection of Tulsa offensive lineman Tyler Smith at No. 24. Internet sleuths have spent the last few days studying screen shots of the Cowboys board to find out how the team ranked the top prospects. The Athletic’s Jon Machota used enhanced photos to reach an educated conclusion about the Cowboys’ big board.
It turns out the Cowboys had the Giants’ top two selections as the first two players in their own rankings. Oregon pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux (selected No. 5) and Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal (drafted No. 7) were listed as the first two players atop their board. Other notable rankings include Ohio State wideout Garrett Wilson at No. 4 as their top-ranked receiver with USC’s Drake London as the next playmaker on the list at No. 10.
According to the photos, the Cowboys only had 14 players with a first-round grade. It is notable that Smith was not given a first-round grade and was not the highest-ranked player remaining on their board. Georgia safety Lewis Cine was ranked No. 13 with a first-round grade, but the Cowboys passed on him to take Smith who was further down the list at No. 16.
Here is a look at Machota’s reported top 10 ranked players based on the enhanced photos: No. 1 Thibodeaux, No. 2 Neal, No. 3 Aidan Hutchinson, No. 4 Wilson, No. 5 Ahmad Gardner, No. 6 Derek Stingley, No. 7 Travon Walker, No. 8 Kyle Hamilton, No. 9 Ikem Ekwonu and No. 10 Drake London.
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Jones Went Viral After Holding Up the Cowboys’ Draft Board
The viral moment came as Jones insisted that the Cowboys had Smith ranked above Texas A&M guard Kenyon Green and Boston College guard Zion Johnson. Based on Machota’s report, it looks like the photos back Jones’ claim with Green at No. 20 and Johnson at No. 22 both below Smith at No. 16.
“I don’t want to get into that, but let me put it like this, we have both of them [Green and Johnson], this was printed three days ago, below him [Smith],” Jones explained during an April 28 press conference as he held up a sheet with the team’s rankings. “Both of those players are below him, can you see that? There’s not any [players] left. I’m dead serious, no we really did have them rated below him. No, we really did. Both of them…I’m trying to see who’s on here…if you took out the quarterbacks it won’t be anybody on here [left for day two].”
Stephen Jones on Tyler Smith: ‘We Think He Can Be Our Left Tackle for a Long Time’
Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones tried to recover from his father’s decision to flash the team’s draft board. He explained that the Cowboys view Smith as a potential franchise left tackle down the road. Smith is expected to start out at guard given the Cowboys have eight-time Pro Bowler Tyron Smith on the roster.
“The only thing I would add to this, the key thing with Smith is just his ability,” Stephen Jones added. “We think he can be our left tackle for a long time, at some point in time. Obviously, we got the best in the business now in Tyron Smith, but at some point [with] his ability we really believe he can be a really top, top left tackle.”