Every year in early April, the Cowboys are allowed to bring in up to 30 usually high-profile, national draft-eligible players for official pre-draft visits. Additionally, they also bring in as many draft-eligible local prospects as they like for visits and workouts during "Dallas Day", also sometime in April.
Over the last nine years, eight of the Cowboys' nine top picks in the draft all visited Valley Ranch as part of the Cowboys' official pre-draft visits. Bobby Carpenter ('06), Anthony Spencer ('07), Felix Jones ('08), Jason Williams ('09), Dez Bryant ('10) and Tyron Smith ('11) were all brought in for pre-draft visits, while Morris Claiborne ('12) became the exception that confirms the rule: Claiborne became the first Cowboys top pick since DeMarcus Ware in 2005 who wasn't invited to Valley Ranch prior to the draft. But the Cowboys got right back on track when they invited Travis Frederick for a pre-draft visit in 2013, and then brought in Zack Martin for an official visit last year.
In 2014, the Cowboys the Cowboys brought in their top two draft picks, Zack Martin and DeMarcus Lawrence, for pre-draft visits, and also brought in 7th-round pick Ken Bishop as well as UDFA signings Davon Coleman, Chris Whaley, Ben Malena and Dashaun Phillips to Valley Ranch.
In 2013, the pre-draft visitors proved to be a veritable bonanza for the Cowboys personnel department: Cowboys draft picks Travis Frederick, Terrance Williams, J.J. Wilcox, B.W. Webb, and Joseph Randle were all brought in for pre-draft visits, as were six UDFA signings (Jakar Hamilton, Brandon Magee, Kendial Lawrence, Taylor Reed, Lanear Sampson and Devin Smith).
In 2012, they brought in Kyle Wilber, Matt Johnson, Ronald Leary, and UDFA Lionel Smith, the year before it was the top three draft picks Tyron Smith, Bruce Carter, and DeMarco Murray along with UDFA Andre Holmes.
So we know that the predictive value is pretty good when we look at the list after the fact. But is there something we can glean from the invitation lists ahead of time? Here are the players we know of so far:
|Cowboys Pre-draft Visitors per 4/9/2015|
|CBS Rank||Name||POS||College||Proj. Rd||Status|
|16||Bud Dupree||DE||Kentucky||1||Official Visit|
|29||Owamagbe Odighizuwa||DE||UCLA||1-2||Official Visit|
|36||Eli Harold||DE||Virginia||1-2||Official Visit|
|50||Danielle Hunter||DE||LSU||2||Official Visit|
|69||Mario Edwards||DE||Florida State||2-3||Official Visit|
|278||Frank Clark||DE||Michigan||7-FA||Official Visit|
|24||Kevin Johnson||CB||Wake Forest||1-2||Official Visit|
|37||Byron Jones||CB||Connecticut||1-2||Official Visit|
|44||P.J. Williams||CB||Florida State||2||Official Visit|
|72||Jalen Collins||CB||LSU||2-3||Official Visit|
|89||Josh Shaw||CB||USC||3||Official Visit|
|822||Tray Walker||CB||Texas Southern||- -||Official Visit|
|18||Todd Gurley||RB||Georgia||1||Official Visit|
|22||Melvin Gordon||RB||Wisconsin||1||Official Visit|
|62||Tevin Coleman||RB||Indiana||2||Official Visit|
|86||T.J. Yeldon||RB||Alabama||3||Official Visit|
|119||Javorius Allen||RB||Southern Cal||3-4||Official Visit|
|34||Shaq Thompson||LB||Washington||1-2||Official Visit|
|35||Eric Kendricks||ILB||UCLA||1-2||Official Visit|
|45||Benardrick McKinney||ILB||Mississippi State||2||Official Visit|
|336||Gabe Martin||LB||Bowling Green||7-FA||Official Visit|
|56||Devin Smith||WR||Ohio State||2||Official Visit|
|75||Damarious Randall||FS||ASU||2-3||Official Visit|
|Dallas Day Visitors|
|41||Jay Ajayi||RB||Boise State||2||Dallas Day|
|96||Daryll Williams||OT||Oklahoma||3||Dallas Day|
|117||Bryce Petty||QB||Baylor||3-4||Dallas Day|
|138||Kevin White||CB||TCU||4-5||Dallas Day|
|169||JaCorey Shepherd||CB||Kansas||5||Dallas Day
|171||Ty Montgomery||WR||Stanford||5||Dallas Day
|233||Chris Hackett||FS||TCU||6-7||Dallas Day|
|240||Adam Shead||OG||Oklahoma||7||Dallas Day
|376||Marcus Murphy||RB||Missouri||- -||Dallas Day|
|439||Quentin Hayes||SS||Oklahoma||- -||Dallas Day|
|590||Valerian Ume-Ezeoke||C||New Mexico State||- -||Dallas Day|
|690||Darius White||WR||Missouri||- -||Dallas Day|
|764||Ross Apo||WR||BYU||- -||Dallas Day|
|883||Sam Ajala||WR||Fordham||- -||Dallas Day|
|925||David Porter||WR||TCU||- -||Dallas Day|
|953||Darius Davis||WR||Henderson State||- -||Dallas Day|
|- -||James Hairston||K||Rice||- -||Dallas Day|
|- -||Cody Rademacher||K||SMU||- -||Dallas Day|
|- -||Charles Cook||S||Yale||- -||Dallas Day|
|- -||Lyndell Johnson||S||Emporia State||- -||Dallas Day|
|- -||Glen Coleman||WR||Florida International||- -||Dallas Day|
|- -||DeMarcus Thompson||WR||Abilene Christian||- -||Dallas Day|
|CBS Rank||Name||POS||College||Proj. Rd||Status|
|55||Quinten Rollins||CB||Miami (Ohio)||2||Private Workout|
|66||Ronald Darby||CB||Florida State||2||Private Workout|
|122||Chris Conley||WR||Georgia||3-4||Private Workout|
|134||Tyrus Thompson||OT||Oklahoma||4||Private Workout|
|232||Jeremiah Poutasi||OG||Utah||5-6||Private Workout|
|166||Laurence Gibson||OT||Virginia Tech||6-7||Private Workout|
|280||Hutson Mason||QB||Georgia||7-FA||Private Workout|
|351||Chaz Green||OT||Florida||- -||Private Workout|
|613||Vernon Johnson||WR||Texas A&M Commerce||- -||Private Workout|
|- -||Visesio Salt||OL||Utah||- -||Private Workout|
|- -||Travis Lee||CB||Miles College||- -||Private Workout|
|- -||Darius Allen||LB||Colorado State-Pueblo||- -||Private Workout|
Focusing only on the prospects brought in for a pre-draft visits a few things stand out:
After failing to see any defensive linemen on the early versions of this visit tracker, some observers were poopooing the idea of of the Cowboys bringing in any defensive linemen. With Bud Dupree, Owamagbe Odighizuwa, Eli Harold and Danielle Hunter now on the list, that particular train of thought was badly derailed. Interestingly, these four guys are not mid- or late-round prospects.
There's a convincing argument to be made that the Cowboys have enough mid- to late-round equivalent defensive linemen on their roster already, and that only first- or second-day picks would provide a worthwhile talent upgrade.
At cornerback, the Cowboys may be looking for upgrades across all rounds - if the CBSSports rankings I used above are anything to go by, and that's a big "If". Teams will almost certainly have different grades on these prospects, sometimes perhaps even wildly different assessments, as this Tweet would seem to indicate:
Damarious Randall finished his visit with the #Cowboys today. I've been told they love him and consider him the best safety in the class— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) April 7, 2015
The other thing that's noticeable - but which may mean absolutely nothing - is that there seem to be a lot of players on this list who could see their name called in the second round. Obviously, the Cowboys' 27th pick is already almost a second-round pick anyway, but how many players do you see here who really have a first-round grade. Four, maybe five? Are the Cowboys preparing to trade down, or are they simply reflecting the fact that there probably won't be many (any?) players left at No. 27 with a first-round grade.
Lots of things to ponder here. What's your take on this list so far?