Almost two weeks after the draft and a day removed from rookie minicamp, you know a lot of things about the Cowboys rookies. You know more than you care to admit about the peroneal nerve; you know that Dak Prescott is wearing a number in memory of his mother; you're suddenly sure that a strong running game will improve the defense; you've already made a list of puns you'll use when Charles Tapper records his first sack; you've even tried to scout a prospect by using basketball film.
But no matter how much time you've spent observing the 2016 draft class there are still things you don't know about them. Here are six things you might not have known:
Oh Captain, my Captain!
We know that Jason Garrett and the Cowboys have a fondness for college team captains. Five of the nine draft picks were team captains in college. Jaylon Smith, Maliek Collins, Charles Tapper, and Dak Prescott were all regular captains, Kavon Frazier was honorary captain twice last year. Frazier's coaches at Central Michigan had decided to rotate the 21 jersey as a way of remembering former teammate Derrick Nash, who passed away from Leukemia last summer, and Frazier wore the jersey twice, including in the team's bowl game.
The best ability is availability.
Odd subheader for a team that drafted Jaylon Smith, no? After all, he'll most likely miss the entire 2016 season. But while it's true Smith suffered a serious knee injury in his final college game, he had not missed a game in the two years before that due to injury. And neither did any of the other drafted rookies. Even Rico Gathers played in 66 of a possible 68 basketball games, and the two he missed were not due to injury.
A smart bunch
We don't have the Wonderlic scores for all rookies, but those that we do have show that this draft class did very well in that test.
The Senior Bowl dividend.
Much was made of the fact that the Cowboys coaches got to coach the 2016 Senior Bowl, and how that would give them an advantage in the scouting process.
Turns out, they only drafted one guy who played at the Senior Bowl, Dak Prescott, and he wasn't even on the team they coached. They also brought in WR Ed Eagan as an undrafted free agent. Eagan had been a late injury substitute and only joined the Senior Bowl practices on the Thursday of Senior Bowl week.
Perhaps the real dividend here is they decided NOT to draft any of the players they coached. Who knows?
The pre-draft visit oracle malfunctioned.
Last year, the Cowboys brought in their top six picks for pre-draft visits. This year, the pre-draft visitor list was less predictive of who the Cowboys would end up drafting. Ezekiell Elliott and Dak Prescott were the only two draft picks brought in for an official pre-draft visit. UDFAs Rodney Coe and Deon King also had an official visit.
No small-school players.
The Cowboys did not draft a single small-school prospect as they've frequently done in the last few years. The eight football players they drafted all hail from FBS programs. Seven of the nine picks are from the Power 5 conferences (SEC, ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 + Notre Dame). Of the two remaining guys, Kavon Frazier and Darius Jackson played in the MAC. All eight football players (and even the basketball payer) are from Div-I conferences.
That's not always been the case. Between 2009 and 2013, the Cowboys drafted eight players, just under two per year, from non-Division I schools. Here's an overview of those draft picks:
|Non- FBS players drafted by Cowboys 2009-2016|
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*Georgia Southern University only moved to the Division I Sun Belt Conference in 2014, a year after Wilcox left school.
As you review the names on the list above, you can't be very happy. J.J. Wilcox is the only player from that group who became a starter. That's not good, and what is particularly galling is that the list above contains six 3rd- or 4th-round picks. That's still premium territory as far as the draft is concerned. Those types of picks have netted the Cowboys players like Jason Witten, Brady James, Chris Canty, DeMarco Murray, Doug Free, or Marion Barber in the recent past. Certainly nothing to sneeze at, and perhaps a reason why they haven't drafted any small-school guys in the last three drafts.