Every year, the televised part of the NFL Combine focuses our collective attention on the physical workouts and tape measurements in Indianapolis. But one of the most important parts of the week is the player interviews, as Tom Ryle pointed out recently:
This is where representatives of the teams get to sit down and talk one on one to the prospects. It can be of great importance in deciding if this is a player to put on the team's board, since great talent can be offset by a player who has the wrong attitude or is just not sharp enough to play the game at the NFL level.
Of course, even these interviews are just one part of the overall evaluation process every team has already gone through and will continue to go through all the way to the draft - a process that includes extensive film study, campus visits, interviews with coaches and staffers who worked with a player at his college, various aptitude tests, extensive background checks, pro days, private workouts, other interviews, and later visits to the NFL team's facilities.
Be that as it may, each NFL team can chose up to 60 prospects at the combine to interview 15 minutes at a time. For the Cowboys, running backs are at the very top of the list as Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News writes.
Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones said Thursday that Dallas has plans to meet with "all those top backs."
"This draft is actually heavy as it has been in running backs," Jones said. "This is one of the strongest years it has ever been for running back."
But there are only 36 running backs at the Combine, so even if the Cowboys were to interview every single one, there are still lots of interview slots left. Here is a list of players confirmed for those interviews. We'll update it throughout the next few days as more names are added.
|9||Dante Fowler*||DE||Florida||Jon Machota|
|14||T.J. Clemmings||OT||Pittsburgh||Jeff Cavanaugh|
|15||Vic Beasley||DE||Clemson||Jon Machota|
|17||Bud Dupree*||DE||Kentucky||Jon Machota|
|20||Malcom Brown||DT||Texas||Charean Williams|
|21||Melvin Gordon*||RB||Wisconsin||ESPN Dallas|
|22||Todd Gurley*||RB||Georgia||ESPN Dallas|
|34||Owamagbe Odighizuwa*||DE||UCLA||Jon Machota|
|36||Eli Harold*||OLB||Virginia||Jeff Cavanaugh|
|52||Jay Ajayi||RB||Boise State||DMN|
|55||Mario Edwards Jr.||DE||Florida state||Jon Machota|
|72||Chris Hackett||FS||TCU||Charean Williams|
|179||Karlos Williams||RB||Florida State||DMN|
|216||Blake Sims||QB||Alabama||Jon Machota|
|237||Connor Halliday||QB||Washington State||CBSSports|
|* has not yet met with the Cowboys but interview scheduled
It's still early, but the list above suggests a focus on DL, RB and perhaps a late-round QB, with a hint of more offensive linemen. Does that sound about right?