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

Jori Epstein, USA TODAY
·4 min read
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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. He dreams about how Pitts could bolster the Cowboys’ Super Bowl chances and told the prospect in a virtual pre-draft meeting: “Man, what a pair up we could wo with ol' Dak Prescott…to get you the ball. So we can dream of visions of sugar plums around here.”

But Jones says his dream of Pitts is mostly just that: a dream. The ESPN report characterizing Jones as “infatuated” with Pitts overestimates how much the owner/general manager is actually willing to act upon said admiration.

“Anybody in this draft is impressed, probably an exaggeration as fascinated,” Jones said. “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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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.

Also last season: The Cowboys posted a historically bad defense, wallowing at 6-10 in head coach Mike McCarthy’s inaugural season. Pitts joining an early run of offensive selections could work to Dallas’ advantage in another facet: leaving cornerbacks like Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II and South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn available for the Cowboys’ scheduled slot.

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Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is interviewed on the sideline.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is interviewed on the sideline.

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.

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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

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Cowboys' Jerry Jones: I'm not infatuated with Kyle Pitts in NFL draft