Dallas Cowboys, 1st Round Pick: Byron Jones, CB, Connecticut

Welcome to Dallas, Byron Jones.

Welcome to Dallas, Byron Jones.

There was chatter about the Cowboys trying to move up in the first round of the 2015 draft to grab a running back, such as Todd Gurley or Melvin Gordon. Those two were gone by the 15th round, making it more clear that Dallas would look to the defensive side of the ball with the 27th pick.

As ESPN’s Todd McShay predicted about a week ago, the Cowboys went with Connecticut cornerback Byron Jones. Here were McShay’s comments:

Gordon is an option for the Cowboys if he drops this far, but they can also look to add a running back later in the draft. Cornerback is their second-biggest need, and Marcus Peters is a possibility here, but I’ll have them take Jones. His recognition skills in coverage can improve, but he’s an exceptional athlete with good size and great intangibles who could really help upgrade the corner position for Dallas.

(Kansas City took Peters with the 18th pick, incidentally.)

Here are some of Jones’ highlights.

His Final Plays: Mel Renfro

During his 14-year career, Mel Renfro had some great moments. Perhaps his best post-season was 1970, when he recorded an interception in each of the Cowboys’ playoff games, including Super Bowl V.

By 1977, however, Renfro’s career was winding down. He became the team’s nickel corner, so for the only time since he entered the league in 1964, he was not a starter.

He nevertheless had a few good moments in 1977. He intercepted two passes that year, including a pick in a game against Philadelphia where Dallas clinched the NFC East. (I have that game on VHS tape but cannot access it at the moment.) That pick was Renfro’s last, giving him 52 for his career.

Unlike nearly every other legendary Cowboy, Renfro was able to end his career on a high note. He played sparingly in Super Bowl XII, but he was active and even recorded a tackle.

The sequence:

Renfro is at the bottom of the screen. He played right cornerback in the nickel formation.

Renfro is at the bottom of the screen. He played right cornerback in the nickel formation.

Rob Lytle came near Renfro (#20).

Rob Lytle came near Renfro (#20).

Renfro his Lytle and drives him to the ground.

Renfro hits Lytle and drives him to the ground.

One great career, one final tackle for Renfro.

One great career, one final tackle for Renfro.

No, it wasn’t like Ted Williams hitting a home run in his final at-bat, but at least Renfro was still involved as the Cowboys won their second Super Bowl. In today’s game, Renfro probably would have already been a salary-cap casualty.

Renfro’s final play in the NFL was the Broncos’ last offensive play with just over three minutes remaining and the Cowboys leading 27-10.

Denver faced a 4th and 23 from the Dallas 24. Renfro entered the game and played right corner again.

 

Hard to tell, but Renfro is at the top of the screen playing right corner.

Hard to tell, but Renfro is at the top of the screen playing right corner.

Denver's Norris Weese had attempted a pass to Rick Upchurch near the Dallas 5. Renfro was near the ball and appears here on the right side of the picture. This was Renfro's last NFL play.

Denver’s Norris Weese had attempted a pass to Rick Upchurch near the Dallas 5. Renfro was near the ball and appears here on the right side of the picture. This was Renfro’s last NFL play.

Three game minutes later, and the Cowboys were celebrating their Super Bowl win. Renfro retired after that season. He became a member of the Ring of Honor in 1981, and he became a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996.

Final Career InterceptionCame against Philadelphia on December 4, 1977. He returned the pick 25 yards.

Final Career TackleRenfro tackled Rob Lytle near the end of the first half in Super Bowl XII.

Final Career Play: He played nickel corner on the Denver Broncos’ final offensive play in Super Bowl XII.

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