IRVING, Texas (AP) — While the Dallas Cowboys sit around waiting for the 51st pick of the draft, they might as well cue up some footage of Roy Williams making big plays for the Detroit Lions and the Texas Longhorns.
For better or worse, Williams is the equivalent of Dallas' first-round draft pick. And third-rounder. Sixth-rounder as well.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones gave up those picks, plus a $45 million contract, to snag Williams from Detroit at the trade deadline last season. He justified the expense by figuring Williams would juice up the Dallas offense down the stretch and he'd provide Tony Romo a big target for years to come.
The first half of the plan fizzled. Williams had minimal impact and the Cowboys were so bad down the stretch they ended up missing the playoffs.
Now Jones is keeping his fingers crossed about the long-term prospects of Romo-to-Williams being a hit in the new $1.1 billion stadium the team is moving into this fall. Jones already has made the bold move of cutting Terrell Owens, and the equally bold move of declaring part of the reason was to give Williams a bigger role in the offense.
"I had to look at Roy Williams and the future that we have with Roy," Jones told a local radio station. "I'm excited about Roy, so I'd rather have him than the (three) picks we gave up for him in this draft. ... You're (always) looking to get younger players on the field. That was important to us."
In some ways, Jones had little choice. Owens was widely considered the root of the team's inner turmoil, so he had to go. With Williams already here and with so much already invested in him, it only made sense for Jones to hype him.
Still, it's made Williams as scrutinized as any draft pick. It doesn't help that Michael Irvin, Troy Aikman and Deion Sanders are among the doubters.
"If Roy Williams doesn't turn out to be the player that they thought he would be when they made the trade, I think this would be one of the biggest busts in the history of the league," Aikman recently said.
"I don't think you can give up what the Cowboys gave up for somebody and not make that a sure bet," the Hall of Famer added. "This isn't like drafting a No. 1 receiver out of the college draft and then saying, 'Well, we think he's got all the skills to be a great player for us.' ... I just think that when you have the chance to evaluate a player to the degree that the Cowboys were able to, and then to give up what you gave up, if he's not a No. 1 receiver and not a highly productive player for this team, that's a huge flaw within their scouting department."
So, what will the Cowboys do with that 51st pick?
Presuming Jones doesn't get antsy and trade back into the first round — which isn't likely considering what he'd have to give up and what he'd have to pay the player, especially with money needed to redo the contract of DeMarcus Ware — the Cowboys are likely to grab a receiver or a safety.
They need safety help because the same day Owens was dumped, so was (the "other") Roy Williams. Dallas already has signed free agent Gerald Sensabaugh, but a rookie would add depth and possibly some competition for the starting job.
If Jones targets a player falling toward 51 and wants to move up a few spots to snag him, he could use some of his second-day draft collateral. The Cowboys have eight picks in rounds three through seven.
Dallas' Day 2 stockpile includes a third-rounder (No. 68 overall, from Cleveland), as well as two fourth-rounders (97 from Detroit and 113), two fifth-rounders (147, 157), a sixth-rounder (179) and a pair in the seventh round (193, 210).
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.
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