The Dallas Cowboys hosted 29 national draft prospects earlier this week. They will fill up their quota of 30 allowed visits by hosting Prince Amukamara next week. In recent years, these visits have been a pretty good indicator of which players and which positions the Cowboys were going to select in the ensuing draft. The Cowboys' last five top picks — Bobby Carpenter, Anthony Spencer, Felix Jones, Jason Williams and Dez Bryant — all visited Valley Ranch as part of the Cowboys' pre-draft visits.
Today, the Cowboys are hosting "Dallas Days" for draft-eligible players with local roots. Rainer Sabin from the DMN explains that "local" appears to be defined by a map of the Dallas-Fort Worth region in the 2011 Rand McNally Road Atlas. Be that as it may, the player visits today will be headlined by Texas A&M's Von Miller and TCU's Andy Dalton leading a septet of prospects from TCU.
After the break we look at an updated list of which players visited the Cowboys this week.
The last top pick the Cowboys did not invite for a visit prior to the draft was DeMarcus Ware in 2005. Perhaps the Cowboys brass thought they knew all there was to know about Ware, perhaps it was all part of an elaborate plot to throw other teams off the Cowboys' scent. Who knows?
2011 could be the 6th consecutive year the Cowboys bring their top draft pick in for a pre-draft visit. If so, his name is on the table below that summarizes the known visitors to Valley Ranch this year by position. The numbers in front of the player names indicate their ranking on the CBS Sports big board.
The table contains all 30 invitees [Thanks to BTB member sgitr for providing the last two]. Additionally, the Cowboys have a private workout scheduled with Alabama QB Greg McElroy next week which doesn't count against the 30 names. Also, the names of the local players invited for Dallas Days are still trickling in, so the list is not complete yet for those players.
At the bottom of this post I've summarized all the players (that I could find) invited for pre-draft visits to Valley Ranch over the last three years. And with the benefit of hindsight, it's easy to say that the invite list is a good indicator of whom the Cowboys will draft. But can you tell which players the Cowboys will pick in three weeks from the table below?
|Offensive Line||Corner||Receiver||Linebacker||Safety||Running Back||Defensive Line|
|14||Tyron Smith, OT, USC||8||Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska||55||Jon Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh||38||Martez Wilson, ILB, Illinois||60||Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA||58
||DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma
||15||J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin|
|16||Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College||33||Aaron Williams, CB, Texas||84||Edmund Gates, WR, Abilene Christian||61||Bruce Carter, LB, North Carolina||67
||Quinton Carter, FS, Oklahoma
||173||Bilal Powell, RB, Louisville||53||Christian Ballard, DE, Iowa|
|20||(Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin**)||65||Brandon Burton, CB, Utah||171||Cecil Shorts, WR, Mount Union||134||Kelvin Sheppard, ILB, LSU||122||Da'Norris Searcy, SS, North Carolina||183||Stevan Ridley, RB, LSU||64||Kenrick Ellis, DT, Hampton|
|21||Mike Pouncey, OG, Florida||88||Shareece Wright, CB, USC
||407||Andre Holmes, WR, Hillsdale||144
||Nate Irving, ILB, North Carolina
||Eric Hagg, FS, Nebraska
|22||Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State||99||Johnny Patrick, CB, Louisville|
|24||Nate Solder, OT, Colorado||259
||Korey Lindsey, CB, Southern Illinois|
|78||Will Rackley, OG, Lehigh|
|Local prospects invited for "Dallas Day"||Other Positions|
||Marcus Cannon, OT, TCU*
||247||Josh Thomas, CB, Buffalo||162||Jeremy Kerley, WR, TCU*
||Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M*||473||Jonathan Nelson, FS, Oklahoma*||- -
||Phillip Tanner, RB, Middle Tennessee*||63||Andy Dalton, QB, TCU*
|133||DeMarcus Love, OT, Arkansas*||396||Jason Teague, CB, TCU*||287||Jimmy Young, WR, TCU*||- -
||Collin Zych, FS, Harvard*||169||Greg McElroy, QB, Alabama*
|228||Jake Kirkpatrick, C, TCU*||- -||Antareis Bryan, CB, Baylor*||656
||Raymond Radway, WR, ACU
||Zack Eskridge, QB, MWSU*|
|- -||Jessie Poku, WR EnMex*||594
||Evan Frosch, TE, TCU*
[**It appears Carimi wasn't at Valley Ranch after all]
In previous years, a good indicator of what the Cowboys were going to do on draft weekend was the amount of invites per position. The Cowboys were looking for a corner and a running back in 2008 and brought in eight corners and five backs. In 2009 they went looking for linebackers and found one. In 2010, the priorities appeared to be corner, receiver and a whole shopping list worth of offensive linemen. After only inviting three linemen in the two previous year, the Cowboys suddenly wanted to talk to eight of the big guys at once. The Cowboys did end up picking a lineman with the 179th pick in Sam Young, but that was perhaps not as high as their shopping list would have indicated.
Going simply by number of invites in 2011, the Cowboys will be going after offensive linemen, corners and receivers. That is, if the past three years are any indication of what they could be doing this year.
Pre-draft visitors to Valley Ranch, 2008-2010
|Pick||WR||Pick||OL||Pick||CB||Pick||S||Pick||DE||Pick||LB||Pick||FB||- -||- -|
|24||Dez Bryant||17||OG Mike Iupati||29||Kyle Wilson||37||Nate Allen||10||Tyson Alualu||55||Sean Lee||125||Clay Harbor||- -||- -|
|39||Arrelious Benn||18||C/G Maurkice Pouncey||27||Devin McCourty||49||Taylor Mays||28||Jared Odrick||91||Navorro Bowman||139||John Conner|
|78||Brandon LaFell||61||OT Vlad Ducasse||76||Chad Jones||71||Morgan Burnett||190||Travis Goethel|
|82||Emmanuel Sanders*||73||OG John Jerry||96||Brandon Ghee|
|90||Taylor Price||80||OC J.D. Walton*||126||Akwasi Owusu-Ansah|
|191||Dezmon Briscoe*||106||OT Bruce Campbell|
|194||OT Ramon Harewood|
|228||OG Reggie Stephens|
|36||Brian Robiskie||58||OT Sebastian Vollmer||42||Jairus Byrd||33||Louis Delmas||68||Jarron Gilbert||16||Larry English||101||Stephen McGee;||122||Anthony Hill|
|50||Mohamed Massaquoi||66||Bradley Fletcher||48||Darcel McBath||69||Jason Williams||174||Tom Brandstater||152||James Casey|
|83||Brandon Tate||166||Michael Hamlin||125||Lawrence Sidbury||- -||Chase Daniel|
|87||Patrick Turner||150||Jasper Brinkley|
|41||James Hardy||15||G Branden Albert||11||Leodis McKelvin||- -
||9||Keith Rivers||13||Jonathan Stewart||61||Martellus Bennett|
|51||Malcolm Kelly||26||OT Duane Brown||16||Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie||10||Jerod Mayo||22||Felix Jones|
|53||Limas Sweed||20||Aqib Talib*||104||Beau Bell||23||Rashard Mendenhall|
|105||Will Franklin||27||Antoine Cason||24||Chris Johnson|
|128||Keenan Burton||35||Brandon Flowers||73||Jamaal Charles|
* denotes players who count as a local prospects