As O.C.C. recently posted, early this week, the Cowboys will host a slew of players, divided into two groups: National Invitees and local, "Dallas Days" guys. They will host thirty players from each group, largely for interviews, so that they can get to know them better. Also, as Cool points out, there has been a strong correlation between the invitees and who Dallas ends up drafting, both in terms of first round draft picks (all but two of the Cowboys' first rounders since 1995 have graced Valley Ranch with a pre-draft visit) and positions (last year, for example, the list of invitees made it almost certain that the Cowboys were going to take an offensive tackle in the first round.)
In the next couple of days, therefore, we'll see some lists of names emerge that we, as die-hard Cowboys fans, would be wise to study. To help us out, the fine folks at ProFootballTalk will keep an updated draft visit and workout tracker, so you can see the latest scuttlebutt on players of interest to your beloved 'Boys. I know I'll be hitting the above link early and often as we wind our way to 2012's Annual Selection Meeting.
As of today, the Cowboys' list is a bit disconcerting. In recent years, a high percentage of Dallas' invitees have been players that figure to be chosen in the first few rounds; they tend to invite a spread at target positions (as they did with cornerbacks and running backs in 2011). Certainly, in the past, there have been lower-round guys in the mix, but they have been the exception. Thus far in 2012, third-day prospects appear to be the rule, and there are very few mid-round prospects.
See what Rabble is talking about after the jump...
Here's the PFT list:
LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers (4/?).
LSU cornerback Ron Brooks (4/?).
*California safety D.J. Campbell (?/?).
+Vanderbilt cornerback Casey Hayward (?/?).
Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (?/?).
+Memphis guard Ronald Leary (3/28, ?/?).
Oklahoma linebacker Ronnell Lewis (4/?).
Midwestern State guard Amini Silatolu (?/?).
Texas A&M cornerback Lionel Smith (4/?).
* = private workout only; not a visit to team facility.
+ = BOTH private workout and visit to team facility.
Workout and visit dates, if available, are in parentheses.
Only two names here (perhaps three, as Silatolu has been rising of late) could be considered first rounders; in searching for info on many of these guys, I discovered that most are considered by draftniks to be 7th round/ UDFA types. What gives?
Well, it may be that (gasp) the draftniks are wrong--or a high number of NFL teams are. I wanted to see what players other teams are interested in, as per PFT, and noticed that a lot of them are curious about the same players that interest the Cowboys. Take a gander at the teams that will be inviting each of the above prospects:
Brockers (13): CAR; CLEV; JAX; KC; MIA; NE; NYJ; PHI; SEA; STL; TB; TENN; WASH
Brooks (5): BAL; MIN; NE; SEA; TB
Campbell (2): MIN; SD
Heyward (3): ATL; MIN; TENN
Kirkpatrick (7): BAL; BUF; DET; JAX; MIN; TB; TENN
Leary (5): CAR; CHI; JAX; NYJ; STL
Lewis (3): NE, NYJ; SD
Silatolu (4): CAR; DET; MIN; TB
Smith (3): HOU; MIN; NO
Online scouts like Wes Bunting and Gary Horton don't even have several of the Cowboys' invitees listed - but this doesn't mean that those same players aren't garnering interest league-wide. Collegians such as Ron Brooks (LSU's "other" corner) and Ronald Leary - who probably spent practices at Memphis butting heads with Dontari Poe) are clearly on the league's radar, as are a couple of guys, safety Campbell and cornerback Smith, who didn't start for their college squads but possess legit NFL bodies.
The takeaway? Don't be disappointed that this collection of names doesn't include all the names that we have been bandying about on the Interwebs in recent weeks. Those guys are on their radar as well, and will probably soon show up on the national invitees list. Nor have the the Cowboys gone crazy; they are doing their due diligence on interesting prospects, guys like the 6'0", 193 lb Lionel Smith or the 6'3" 315 lb Leary, who might not have accumulated as much press, but just might be able to help a team win a Lombardi.
And that's what its all about, right?