Ever wonder what it’s like to attend Dallas Day and work out for the Dallas Cowboys? Or be a college player hoping to get drafted, but not sure if it will happen? We talked to SMU prospect Mason Gentry about his experience with both of those things. He worked out at the recent Dallas Day as he prepares for the 2018 draft. Gentry is in a unique situation, he spent his college days playing defensive line for SMU, but he’s been advised that his best chance of making it in the NFL is to switch sides and become an offensive lineman.
Gentry: Since being recruited out of high school it is something that’s been mentioned to me, even in college certain coaches would want me to do it. There was never a time to do it at SMU because the lack of depth at defensive line, it could have hurt our team. I saw it was a good opportunity for me, something scouts wanted, me at offensive line more than defensive line. That’s what I’ve trained at since the end of our bowl game until now.
I asked Gentry is he going to be an interior offensive lineman or tackle?
Gentry: I hear more at tackle but it really depends on the team. Some teams have said guard, or tackle, I’m more comfortable at tackle that’s what I’ve done more and they worked me out at more, but going in as a rookie I’ll do both.
So where do the Cowboys see him? We asked about his workout at Dallas Day, and it turns out he’s being looked at as a tackle in Dallas.
Gentry: I only worked out with [offensive line coach Paul] Alexander, he took all the tackles, and the guard and centers were working out with the other offensive line coach. We had five or six offensive tackles working out and he put us through drills pretty quickly.
Gentry had one advantage, even though he’s switching from defensive line to offensive line. He’s been working out at Chip Smith Performance Systems in Atlanta with former NFL linemen Jon Stinchcomb and Willie Anderson. Anderson played for Paul Alexander, so Gentry said that many of the techniques he learned with Anderson were the same Alexander used when he worked out at Dallas Day.
So what’s it like to attend Dallas Day?
Gentry: They give you an itinerary so you know what you’re going to do. There are a couple of different groups that will show up at different times. If you went to the combine you show up later because you don’t have to do the physical, because you do all that at the combine. The people that didn’t go to the combine, you show up and they give you the clothes they want you to wear, they take you to a room and give you paperwork to fill out, and then if you’ve had any injuries as most players have, they will evaluate you.
Once the preliminary stuff is taken care of, you move on to the real action.
Gentry: After that you go back to the locker room, there’s a good amount of people in there and they split you into offense and defense. You stretch and get ready, then go out on the field. The offense talks to the coaches while the defense was working out, then flip flop.
Jason Garrett and Jerry Jones both attend, but most of the on-field work is left to the assistant coaches.
Gentry: Before the defense started working out Coach Garrett brought everybody together, they circled up and Coach Garrett talked to us for a minute. He just told us what was going to happen and what we were going to do. At the end, after the offense and defense worked out, they brought us up and Jerry Jones talked to us for about five minutes.
The Cowboys brought in Gentry for a look as they try to create some depth along their offensive line. He knows that he’s at the back end of the draft, especially since he’s making a position switch. Still, he wouldn’t mind getting drafted even though he recognizes it might not happen.
Gentry: My goal is to get drafted like any other player, seventh round - that would be awesome because it’s hard when you are switching positions, they don’t have any film of you at that position. So it’s a lot of risk for teams. More than likely I could end up signing as an UDFA and that’s fine with me. All that really matters as a seventh-rounder or UDFA - I still have to go and make the team. It just comes down to how hard I work.
Making the change from defense to offense is a big move, so we asked what is the biggest challenge.
Gentry: Just understanding the position is the biggest thing. From the start the movements felt comfortable, that comes pretty easily. Understanding the position is a challenge, I watched a lot of film with John Stinchcomb, he would take me through situations and scouting the defense, everything like preparing for a game. The more time I spend understanding what to do in situations, the more reps the better. Athleticism, strength and size can take care of a lot of things, but knowing what you’re supposed to do, making those quick decisions, is something that is hard but I think I’m doing a really good job of picking that up.
We’ll see over the weekend how Gentry did, and if he becomes a Dallas Cowboy.