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2) Dallas had more to gain from the draft than anyone else in the league. Having stockpiled picks from several of the 29 trades it has made in the past 26 months, the team could go a long way toward deciding its future in this year's draft (10 picks in the first four rounds, 17 overall) and next year's (seven in the first three rounds, 16 overall).
3) Dallas took a bold negotiating step. Holdouts are Jones's cyanide; he can't take them. Jones was so intent on signing all of Dallas's picks in the top two rounds on Sunday that he had six friends—a lawyer from Arkansas and a retired businessman from Montana among them—stationed with cellular phones and contracts in cars outside the homes of prospective high draftees that morning, so they would be able to get signatures right away. The Cowboys were looking for 1991 quality at 1990 prices, and their success would influence how much every NFL team pays its top draftees this season.
So how did the Cowboys grade out? Here's a checklist:
•Indeed, other teams turned to Dallas to make deals, and the Cowboys turned the league on its ear. Last Friday, Dallas traded up for the No. 1 pick in the draft, giving the New England Patriots the 11th overall pick, a second-round pick and three players, none of whom were likely to start in 1991. The Cowboys wanted Miami defensive tackle Russell Maryland, not Ismail, and they would have swapped places with Atlanta, which owned the third pick, if they could have been assured of landing Maryland at No. 3, and the Falcons could have been assured of signing Ismail. Neither event was certain, so Dallas kept the top pick and selected Maryland with it.
On draft day the Cowboys tried to deal the 12th pick in a package to the Tampa Bay Bucs so Dallas could move up to No. 7 and take Tennessee tackle Charles McRae. That didn't happen, because the Bucs wanted McRae. So the Cowboys used the 12th choice to get Tennessee wideout Alvin Harper.
What did happen is that Dallas traded its third first-round pick, the 14th overall, to New England for the 17th overall pick and a fourth-round choice. Next the Cowboys dealt that 17th pick to the Washington Redskins for the 20th overall pick and a fifth-round choice. Then Dallas sent the 20th pick to Detroit for those second-, third- and fourth-rounders.
In the first round alone, Dallas assistant Bruce Mays logged 83 telephone calls on the subject of trading. "I like dealing with them," said Herock, who called or was called by the Cowboys seven times during the first round, "because they're always willing to do something, and they'll give you an answer."
•It's too early to tell what impact the 10 players Dallas drafted in the first four rounds will have on the team, but the Cowboys expect immediate help from Maryland, whom Johnson first signed out of Chicago's South Side in 1986. At the time, Johnson was the coach at Miami, and he had one scholarship left. While Maryland, at 6'1" and 274 pounds, appears too small to be an impact player in the mold of Philadelphia Eagle tackle Reggie White, the Cowboys want him for his quickness, his ferocious play against the run and his ability to be a consistent inside pass rusher.
There's no questioning the value of Harper, who's the latest in the new breed of tall, sleek receivers like Al Toon of the New York Jets. Overall, the Cowboys hope they have added considerable depth to a thin roster.
•Amazingly, Dallas had the signatures of its top three picks on contracts before the front-office people went to bed early Monday morning, and it made deals that other teams will salute. In each case, the Cowboys' network of regional signers moved in and laid some groundwork, meeting with Maryland in Newport Beach, Calif. (headquarters of Maryland's agent, Leigh Steinberg), Harper at his parents' home in Frostproof, Fla., and Edwards at his parents' home in Cincinnati. Then all three players flew to Dallas. Maryland came to terms at 9:05 p.m. on Sunday, Harper at 1:18 a.m. Monday and Edwards at 3:03 a.m.