Sunday, April 27, 2003

Newman goes to Cowboys

By Jaime Aron
The Associated Press

IRVING, Texas - The first draft pick of the Bill Parcells-Jerry Jones partnership lacked fireworks - no big trade, hardly even any debate.

Making what Jones called the safe choice, the Dallas Cowboys selected cornerback-returner Terence Newman from Kansas State with the fifth overall pick Saturday.

"We're very much on the same page here," Jones said. "As I've said from the beginning, this is a 'we' decision. Bill is very involved. He has tremendous respect from me and I really do listen to his input. He very much does influence the decisions that we make."

Jones said the Cowboys considered moving down more than moving up. Once they decided to stick at No. 5, the choice came down to three players.

Newman's proven ability at a position where the team needed help won out, overcoming questions about nerve damage in his left shoulder and the fact he'll be 25 when the season begins, about two years older than the average first-rounder.

The Cowboys used their second pick on Al Johnson, a 6-foot-3, 305-pound center-guard from Wisconsin, giving Parcells one of the wide bodies that he prefers on the offensive line.

Jones said Dallas wanted a lineman in either the second or third round because of all the problems they had there last season. If Johnson can win the center job, Andre Gurode can stay at guard and Matt Lehr and Tyson Walter can be backups.

"He's ideal for what our new offensive coordinator, offensive line coach and Bill Parcells would like to see in an offensive lineman," Jones said. "He's got a lot of size for a center and good mobility. He's quick enough to get a defensive lineman who's not right on his nose."

The 5-foot-10, 189-pound Newman was an All-American last season, winning the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back. He intercepted five passes and deflected 14 despite teams often not throwing to his side of the field.

The Cowboys are hoping he can provide tight enough coverage to buy time for defensive linemen to get to the quarterback. They expect to be able to trust him enough to let a safety creep up to the line for run support.

Newman also can help the special teams as he returned three punts and one kickoff for touchdowns in four seasons at K-State, including two of 26 punt returns as a senior. He even saw action at receiver.

In Dallas, he's likely to unseat Mario Edwards and join Derek Ross as the starters at cornerback. Combined with safeties Roy Williams and Darren Woodson, the defensive backfield can now be considered one of the Cowboys' strengths.

Newman grew up watching Dallas and his mother lives in the area. While he said he didn't care when he was drafted or by which team - insisting all he wants is a chance to play in the NFL - he said the Cowboys would've been his top choice.

"This fits me perfect," he said. "All I can do is come in and do my best to compete and help out any way I can."

He played down the shoulder injury, noting that it didn't stop him from "winning hundreds of awards" in college. Jones said team doctors "extensively evaluated" the injury and weren't too concerned.

Jones praised Newman's work ethic and compared his speed to Deion Sanders'.

Newman appreciates the comparison.

"People will say that it puts a lot of pressure on your shoulders, but I know my limitations, I know what I can do," he said. "It's good for me if I can live up to it. It just lets people know that I'm able to make a lot of plays and do a lot of things when I get a chance."

Jones and Parcells never interviewed Newman, but extensive research by their scouting staff made them comfortable with this pick.

They expected he'd be their man once Detroit and Houston took receivers at Nos. 2 and 3.

That made this selection far less dramatic than last year, when the commissioner said the Cowboys had passed, then later announced a trade with Kansas City that dropped Dallas two spots. The Cowboys still ended up getting the player they wanted in Williams.

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