Posted on Sun, Apr. 25, 2004 Back flip Cowboys trade out of first round for No. 1 pick in 2005 By Clarence E. Hill Jr. Star-Telegram Staff Writer IRVING - Sitting there with the 22nd pick, the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft couldn't have played out better for the Cowboys on Saturday. A number of trades and shocking selections by the teams in front of them left the top players on the board at the Cowboys' greatest position of need. They had a couple of options with running backs Steven Jackson of Oregon State and Kevin Jones of Virginia Tech available. The choice of selecting a running back to take his place in the team's esteemed first-round running back lineage of Calvin Hill, Duane Thomas, Tony Dorsett and Emmitt Smith was seemingly obvious. But following a free-agency period in which the Cowboys made value decisions with building for the future in mind rather than focusing solely on immediate improvement, owner Jerry Jones and Bill Parcells promptly passed on the obvious, and accomplished both goals. Taking advantage of a surprising offer from the Buffalo Bills, the Cowboys traded down from the 22nd slot for three picks -- a second-round choice (43rd overall) which they used to draft Notre Dame running back Julius Jones; a fifth-rounder today; and a first-rounder in 2005. The speedy Julius Jones, who will wear jersey No. 21, should make an immediate impact in the rushing game, either as the primary starter or the feature back in a shared situation. The Cowboys entered the draft hoping to acquire more picks in an attempt to fill a number of needs. They addressed some offensive line concerns with Southern California tackle Jacob Rogers in the second round and Louisiana State guard Stephen Peterman in the third round. Rogers is expected to step in immediately as the starter at right tackle, and Peterman gives the team insurance for disgruntled left guard Larry Allen, who has been on the trading block. The coup de grace, however, was getting the 2005 first-round selection from Buffalo, giving the Cowboys two first-round picks next season and a chance to build longterm. "The running back thing fell exactly as you want to draw it up for us to be in that spot," said owner Jerry Jones, who said he was surprised to get the call from Bills general manager Tom Donahoe. The Bills were targeting Tulane quarterback J.P. Losman. "Then trumped by that was the opportunity to get the No. 1 pick next year. It was such an opportunity to end up with two No. 1's. I know from experience what you can do with two No. 1's. When you've got two No.1's, you can really be not only imaginative, but you can dictate rather than be dictated to." And while the Cowboys have been focused since their NFC wild-card game loss to the Carolina Panthers on improving on their surprising 10-6 record of last season, Jones and Parcells reiterated that the future of the organization will always be their top priority. "It points to the fact that this is a building process," Jones said. "Bill is as interested as I am about the long-term view in terms of the building process." Said Parcells: "In my heart I have to approach this from the long-range view if I am going to be honest and forthright. I have to look at the best interest of the franchise. The best way to rejuvenate a team is with multiple picks on the [draft's] first day." Still, Parcells said it was "a hard decision" to trade down. According to a source, the Cowboys would have taken a running back at the 22nd spot, likely Jackson, whom they had as the top-ranked runner on the board, if Buffalo hadn't offered the No. 1. The possibility of the pick being a possible top-15 selection in 2005, given Buffalo's current struggles, was a huge factor in the Cowboys agreeing to the deal. Julius Jones (5-foot-10, 217 pounds), who impressed Jones and Parcells during a visit to the team's Valley Ranch training complex last Friday, was among six backs the Cowboys had targeted as possible draft-day options. He was rated slightly behind Jackson on the team's draft board and was already penciled in as a prime second-round target if the team didn't get a runner in the first round. Jones said his heart skipped a beat when Parcells called him Saturday to announce their selection. "When coach Parcells called, I was overjoyed," Jones said. "He called and asked me how I was doing. Then he said, 'What did I tell you?' I said, 'You told me if I was available come the second round, you were going to come after me.' He said, "All right then, you are about the become a Dallas Cowboy.'" After not playing in 2002 because of academic problems, Jones started seven of 12 games for Notre Dame last season. He rushed for 1,341 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also set school career records in total kickoff return yardage (2,104) and kickoff returns (72), while impressing the Cowboys with how he battled back from adversity. Jerry Jones and Parcells acknowledge that it's a bit of a gamble to pass on higher-rated backs for Jones. Yet the owner believes they didn't settle for a dropoff in talent, and says emphatically Jones has a chance to be an every-down back for the next season. Parcells wouldn't guarantee starting jobs to any of the draft picks, saying he hoped they all would make significant contributions to the team in 2004. However, he acknowledged that Jones has the potential to be as good as any of the backs in the draft, while pointing out that history says the bigger gamble would have been taking a runner in the first round. The picks What the Cowboys did on Day 1: Julius Jones RB, Notre Dame Round: 2nd, 43rd pick Size: 5-10, 217 2004 projection: Jones is expected to vie immediately for the starting job at running back. Jones was one of the backs the Cowboys had their eye on from the beginning, and he is now the future at the position. Upside: He has quick feet (4.47 seconds in the 40) and an ability to bounce outside and break away from defenders. Jones is a patient and durable runner with good vision and allows his openings to develop. Downside: He has had limited experience as a receiver, which will be needed in the Cowboys' offense. Jacob Rogers OT, USC Round: 2nd, 52nd pick Size: 6-6, 305 2004 projection: Rogers will most likely start at right tackle. The Cowboys cut Ryan Young. Kurt Vollers and Torrin Tucker are more suited to reserve roles. Upside: He has a still-developing frame and could add power. Rogers has the feet and agility to handle speed rushers. Downside: Injuries kept him from going higher in the draft. He suffered a sprained right knee this season and has a history of shoulder problems. He sometimes relies more on finesse than power. Stephen Peterman OG, LSU Round: 3rd, 83rd pick Size: 6-4, 317 2004 projection: He gives them insurance and could vie for a starting job at right guard. Upside: This All-American is a monster drive blocker suited for the inside. He's an aggressive run blocker with menacing strength who plays with spirit. Downside: Peterman played guard only for three seasons and is still learning. He lacks lateral quickness and falls off blocks at times.