Cowboys' Jones has sights set on two players with No. 6 pick

Thursday, April 18th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DALLAS (AP) _ After all the scouting combines, campus visits, office interviews and private workouts, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has narrowed his list of choices with the No. 6 pick in Saturday's draft to two names.

``One of the two ought to be there,'' he said. ``That's with some luck, some expectations.''

Considering Dallas is coming off a second straight 5-11 season, the team could use help anywhere. But Jones insists that he expects to draft starters with his top pick and his second one, the 37th choice, and the key vacancies are on defense, primarily in the secondary.

Texas cornerback Quentin Jammer is the odds-on favorite to be atop Jones' list, but he's also likely to go in the top five picks. The backup choice is probably either Oklahoma safety Roy Williams or Miami cornerback Phillip Buchanon.

Jammer has the size and speed befitting a choice that high. The knocks on the others are that Williams' position rarely gets picked in the top 10 and Buchanon is just shy of 5-foot-10.

The Cowboys had the fourth-ranked defense in the NFL last season, but Jones has been upgrading the unit in hopes of generating more turnovers and sacks.

Dallas signed defensive tackle La'Roi Glover, linebacker Kevin Hardy and cornerback Bryant Westbrook, plus re-signed safety Darren Woodson, linebacker Dat Nguyen and defensive tackle Brandon Noble.

Jones said the signings give him the flexibility to take the best player available, and he amended his line about finding starters to say he wants players who will play a lot of snaps. But other statements at a news conference Tuesday pointed away from picking an offensive player in the first round _ even when factoring in the usual pre-draft bluster.

He said he's comfortable with a quarterback trio of last year's top pick Quincy Carter, veteran Ryan Leaf and recently signed Chad Hutchison, a former Stanford standout who has spent several years playing baseball. So that would eliminate Oregon's Joey Harrington if he's available.

Asked about taking someone to break in as Emmitt Smith's replacement, Jones said, ``if we drafted a running back with that second pick, that would be the intention.'' Dallas also will be looking for a tight end, but sixth is too high, especially in a draft that's considered deep at the position.

The one exception is receiver. Joey Galloway and Raghib Ismail are the starters, yet the Cowboys could use a bigger target, such as Tennessee's Dante Stallworth, as they implement a West Coast scheme brought in by new offensive coordinator Bruce Coslet.

``I'd say we're fortunate this year in that within that top six, there's players that we ought to pick that should make our fans happy for years to come,'' Jones said. ``There are players who can come in and really make us a better team.''

The Cowboys traded their last two first-round picks to Seattle for Galloway, and they traded out of the first round in four of the seven years before that. Jones said he isn't looking to move this time, adding that he's been energized by his highest pick since taking Russell Maryland first overall in 1991.

Jammer, Williams and Buchanon were among about 20 players interviewed at team headquarters last week. This week, Jones said he's flown his private jet all over the country for one more workout with a select group of candidates. He said the plane's 18 seats were filled with coaches as well as quarterbacks and receivers, which could be another clue that Dallas was examining defensive backs or receivers.

The Cowboys have been working toward this draft since waiving Troy Aikman last March. Jones knew the move would cripple the team's salary cap for 2001 and thus hurt the product on the field. The flip side was having more money to spend in 2002 and the high draft pick.

``This isn't just about starting in February at the combines,'' Jones said. ``It's about culminating and executing what we've put together over 14 months.''