The Cowboys, like every other NFL team, use the time they spend at the Senior Bowl not just to look at practices, but also to speak with players. Many of these interviews take place away from the prying eyes of nosy reporters, and we never hear about them. But some of the interviews do make their way into the public record, and we draftniks take meticulous note of every real, purported or imagined interview.
After all, four players who attended last year's Senior Bowl are currently on the Cowboys roster: running back DeMarco Murray, offensive lineman Kevin Kowalski, wide receiver Dwayne Harris and kicker Kai Forbath all made their way to Mobile, Alabama last year. Chances are that some of the players the Cowboys have taken an interest in will wear the Star next season.
After a thorough search of the interwebs, we have the names of twelve players we are fairly sure the Cowboys talked to, and three more names the Cowboys may or may not have talked to. All will be revealed after the break.
The table below provides an overview of the 15 players. They are ranked by their position on the CBSSports big board, with their ranking on the National Football Post's big board thrown in for good measure. The column at the end provides a link to the source reporting the interview.
|Alfonzo Dennard||CB||Nebraska||17||26||DMN, Jan 25.|
|Melvin Ingram||OLB||South Carolina||19||23||DMN, Jan 25.|
|Courtney Upshaw||OLB||Alabama||20||34||DMN, Jan 24.|
|Janoris Jenkins*||CB||North Alabama||27||44||ESPN, Jan 24.|
|Kelechi Osemele*||G||Iowa State||43||24||DMN, Jan 25.|
|Kevin Zeitler||G/C||Wisconsin||53||54||DMN, Jan 25.|
|Ben Jones||C||Georgia||65||38||DMN, Jan 25.|
|Jamell Fleming||CB||Oklahoma||120||43||DMN, Jan 25.|
|Brandon Weeden*||QB||Oklahoma State||123||94||ESPN, Jan 25.|
|Travaris Cadet||RB||Appalachian State||538||- -||Travaris Cadet|
(*) denotes the three players that may or may not have talked to the Cowboys. It was initially reported that Janoris Jenkins had met with the Cowboys. This was later revised to read that a meeting was scheduled, but there's no confirmation of that meeting ever having happened. Brandon George from the DMN confirms that the Cowboys talked to linemen Zeitler and Jones, but that Osemele "declined to say whether he had talked to the Cowboys." There are also conflicting reports about the level of contact the Cowboys had with Weeden. Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas writes the Cowboys conducted an interview with Weeden, while Brandon George from the DMN writes that Weeden merely filled out a questionnaire for the Cowboys.
Regardless of which interviews actually transpired, it's interesting to note that of the 15 players above, three each are corners, rushers and interior linemen, all positions that are widely felt to be the greatest areas of need for the Cowboys.
And if the CBS Big Board is anything to go by, the Cowboys first pick could be either a corner or a pass rusher, while they may be looking at shoring up the interior offensive line in the second round.
Then again, that hypothesis could disappear into thin air if you discount the Jenkins interview as never having happened and buy into what Tony Pauline has to say about Alfonzo Dennard on SI.com:
CB Alfonzo Dennard of Nebraska leaves Mobile with a draft grade much lower than when he arrived. Dennard was stiff and struggled all week. The projected first-rounder was beaten by receivers who are likely last-day picks. While it's a bit premature, some scouts on hand say Dennard may have to move inside to safety, a thought that could further depress his draft stock.
Of course, given the absence of underclassmen at the Senior Bowl, reading anything into which players the Cowboys interviewed may be akin to reading tea leaves, coffee grounds or wine sediments. Then again, I'm told there are people who believe in that stuff, so make what you will of the list above.