The Cowboys may or may not end up drafting a linebacker or a running back with their first pick in the 2015 draft, but you can't accuse them of not doing their due diligence on the available prospects.
Tony Pauline at DraftInsider.net and Rand Gatlin of Yahoo confirm that linebacker Benardrick McKinney and running back Melvin Gordon will come to Dallas for a pre-draft visit on April 8.
49ers respond to LB retirements by scheduling official visit with Benardrick McKinney/Miss St who's also visiting Cowboys, Broncos & Texans— Tony Pauline (@TonyPauline) March 17, 2015
One potential replacement the #Cowboys are considering for DeMarco Murray? RB Melvin Gordon. Has a pre-draft visit to Dallas on the books.— Rand Getlin (@Rand_Getlin) March 16, 2015
Every year prior to the draft, each NFL team is permitted to invite up to 30 national draft prospects for a pre-draft visit. These visits do not involve any workouts, they are strictly meet and greets where the team can get a better feel for the players and the medical staff can conduct more thorough medical checkups.
As we've seen in the past, these visits are usually pretty good indicators of which players and which positions the Cowboys were going to select in the ensuing draft.
After DeMarco Murray's departure, running back is likely high on the Cowboys' priority list heading into the draft, so a visit by Melvin Gordon is not particularly surprising - particularly since the Cowboys' interest in running backs is likely to extend far beyond the first round as David Moore of the Dallas Morning News notes:
Every quality running back with a pulse is expected to visit the club before next month’s draft.
The Cowboys' interest in a linebacker shouldn't come as a shock either, given their well-documented interest in Shazier in last year's draft:
The Cowboys had the 16th overall selection and were all set to draft Shazier, a 6-foot-1, 237-pound linebacker with eye-opening speed. They were even on the phone with Shazier’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, when the Steelers ruined their plans.
"It was just amazing to see the 412 area code on my cell phone," Shazier said. "Words can’t even describe it."
The Cowboys were speechless, too. The player they intended to draft with their No. 1 pick was snatched away one pick earlier by the Steelers.
"I’m in the middle of writing a text that Dallas is going to take him and the phone rings and it’s the Steelers," said Vernon Shazier, Ryan’s father who grew up a Steelers fan living in the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., area. "Good thing I didn’t send out that text."
We're still three weeks away from when those visits will happen, and over the course of those three weeks up to 28 additional names of visitors to Valley Ranch will emerge. We'll try to keep you updated on all of them.