Offensive tackle Billy Turner from out-of-the-way North Dakota State is set to meet the Cowboys, not once but twice, according to Gil Brandt:
The two visits are most likely a private workout followed by an official pre-draft visit in Dallas as part of the Cowboys' quota of 30 national draft prospects they are allowed to bring in prior to the draft. But this is nothing more than informed speculation on my part, the two dates could be something else entirely.
But keep in mind that the official pre-draft visits in Dallas are nothing more than glorified meet-and-greets. The Cowboys show the players around Valley Ranch, impress them with a visit to AT&T stadium, and have the prospects go through a series of medical tests and interviews. However, these pre-draft visits in Dallas do not involve any workouts. If the Cowboys want to run Turner through some drills, they'd have to do it at a private workout, hence perhaps the second date.
So why am I making such a fuss about the two dates? Because the Cowboys went through the exact same drill with Ronald Leary. Bill Callahan flew to Memphis for a private workout with Leary, and the Cowboys later also brought him in for a pre-draft visit. As it turned out, the Cowboys had a third-round grade on Leary, and that also seems to be where Turner is expected to be drafted.
NFL Draftscout has him projected as a second to third round pick, as does CBSSports. Gil Brandt thinks Turner is "probably a second-day draft pick down near the end of the third round", an assessment that Drafttek also shares.
As you can see from Brandt's tweet above, the Cowboys are not the only team interested in Turner, and that interest in the 6-5, 315-pound offensive lineman has seen Turner steadily climb up draft boards. At the end of August last year, CBSSports had him ranked 536th overall. By the end of September, Turner had climbed to 187th. By the end of January, Turner had moved to 97th on the strength of a Senior Bowl performance that impressed a lot of scouts, one of whom was Bryan Broaddus:
I understand this club has not had a great history of drafting small school offensive linemen, but this player might be different. During the week, he lined up at left tackle, but he also got some work at guard as well.
I believe I would play him at right tackle and let him go to work from that position. The jump in competition did not look too much for him and his play was consistent throughout. He played with nice power in the running game and was able to get some good push off the snap. He showed good quickness, and once engaged, he worked to finish.
He was good on his cut off and reach blocks. His pass sets were good, but there were some reps where he needed to be a little quicker to get to the outside and get set up.
Turner has moved up even further on the CBS board since then, and today sits comfortably at number 76.
Our own rabblerousr made an interesting point about the Cowboys' tackle situation in his "Follow The Money" post yesterday: rabble argued that the Cowboys have shown a tendency to draft younger replacements in advance as they phase out older players on bloated contracts, and one such older player is Doug Free, who is on the last year of his contract. Could the Cowboys be looking at Turner as an option to replace Free in a year's time? That's excatly what this scouting profile from Detroitlionsdraft.com suggests NFL teams should do:
An NFL team who needs an immediate impact could slide [Turner] into a guard position and get solid returns, but Turner’s upside could be maximized by being given a year behind an aging left tackle to develop technically before being slotted into a lineup in 2015. The situation is more important than where exactly he’s drafted, but a second round investment makes sense.
I'm not sure that the Cowboys would invest a second-round pick in a developmental tackle, but Turner definitely is in play for the Cowboys' third rounder. I'll leave the final thoughts to rabble once again:
Unless they are absolutely certain that Jermey Parnell or Darrion Weems is the long-term answer at right tackle (and how could they?), expect the team to draft one in a little over two months - and higher than we'd expect. If they are looking to find a starter by 2015, they'll have to spend a first or second day pick. Thus it should not surprise us to see several offensive tackle candidates come to Dallas for mid-April visits, much like WRs did this time last year.