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Trying to figure out what the Cowboys pre-draft “visits” tell us

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In a normal year, the 30 visits would often give us some significant hints. Do the video visits do the same?

College Football Playoff National Championship - Clemson v LSU
Kristian Fulton is one of the highest rated prospects so far for the Cowboys.
Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

The NFL is proceeding with the draft, although under very different circumstances than we are used to. That extends to the pre-draft visits. Those have been limited to 30, but cannot happen in the current environment. Instead, NFL teams, including of course the Dallas Cowboys, are able to conduct an unlimited number of video visits with prospects. Normally we drill into the 30 visits as we find out about them to seek some insight into what is coming on draft day for our favorite team. We are attempting to do the same as the team releases information on who they have “met” with, which you can check up on at our tracker.

Things are hardly done, but the list at the time this is written might show us some hints. There is one big caveat, however. We have no idea what visits might have happened that the team has not seen fit to share with us. We don’t know what we don’t know, but that isn’t going to stop us (me) from trying to figure some hints out.

Here is what has come out to date (again, as this is written) with the overall ranking from the CBS Sports big board used to try and sort out where these players might go in the draft.

Cowboys visits

Player Position School CBS ranking
Player Position School CBS ranking
Kristian Fulton CB LSU 22
Kenneth Murray LB Oklahoma 23
Tee Higgins WR Clemson 33
Zack Baun LB Wisconsin 34
Denzel Mims WR Baylor 39
Jalen Reagor WR TCU 43
Marlon Davidson DT Auburn 55
Justin Madabuike DT Texas A&M 62
Raekwon Davis DT Alabama 94
Jalen Hurts QB Oklahoma 103
Cordel Iwuagwu G TCU 255

Just to remind you, here are the overall spots where the Cowboys are currently slated to pick.

  • 17
  • 51
  • 82
  • 123
  • 164
  • 179
  • 231

First, let’s point out right at the start that one of these things is not like the other. Ten of the names are projected to go somewhere in the first three rounds or early in the fourth. But Cordel Iwuagwu is a late day three or UDFA prospect. That may reflect that the Cowboys are not looking very hard for interior OL help. There also may be a more practical reason. He was the very first visit announced by the Cowboys, and it is possible he was the guinea pig for the process. He was almost certainly on the Dallas radar as a likely Dallas Day visitor, so they did want to talk to him. But it makes a lot of sense to iron everything out with him before getting to the higher ranked players they wanted to speak to. We may see more like Iwuagwu before the visits wrap up, but logically those should be done later in the time left.

Now for the others. And there are definitely some things that may be emerging.

First, this is a defense heavy group. The split is only six to five in favor of defense, but note that two of the offensive options are the lowest ranked players on this list. That makes the split among those that are likely day one or day two choices six to three.

There are two position groups where the Cowboys are doing a lot of work. DL and WR each have three possibilities in this group. And both the linebackers included in this list may be under consideration for their pass rushing ability. With Mike Nolan now in charge of the defense, we might see some new things, and a college linebacker that can be employed more as a stand-up pass rushing specialist might be one of them. In any case, there is a lot of interest in front seven players. Only talking to one CB in this early group is a bit of a surprise, and that may be a position that is addressed heavily in the last couple of weeks of the interviews.

Wide receiver is clearly the other spot where the Cowboys plan to get someone. And if this list is any indication, that is going to be early, with all three of the interviewees at that position being projected as first- or second-round talents.

Which brings us back to the list of Dallas picks. While the CBS rankings may not necessarily have any relationship to how the Cowboys’ own board will shape up, it does give us an interesting view of the players the team has talked to. According to that, six of the eleven players so far could be expected to go between the Cowboys first and second picks.

Did someone say trade back?

That certainly looks like the case here. While they still have plenty of opportunity to start talking to players in that 10 to 17 range, and may well have done so without sharing, these names look like a really good group to trade back a few spots from 17 and maybe net an additional third- or fourth-round pick. (A second would be great, but this may be a year when you can’t get as much for a first-round slot due to the greater uncertainty in the evaluation process, which could depress the value.) Trading back would have the corner, both linebackers, and all three wide receivers still likely available. Then that extra pick would allow them to get a young defensive tackle to fortify that position, while still having ammo for the other positions of value.

Hurts looks like a possible fourth-round flyer if he slides, but that usually doesn’t happen with QBs. If they are thinking about him at 82, I personally would cringe a bit. But Mike McCarthy likes to draft quarterbacks just about every year. We will see.

What is missing here are any true EDGE rushers, unless they are looking to mold Murray or Baun into one. Baun is probably a better option. If they are not looking to do that, my preference is to go for Fulton. Using a premium pick on a traditional linebacker just doesn’t seem wise. The WR group this year is very deep, and using a first-round pick, even in a trade back, also seems too rich. But if you are Team Forty Burger, this might make you very happy.

This is horribly incomplete, and once we get closer to 25 or 30 visits, if we find out that much, the picture might change a lot. But this may be a hint at how the team is leaning.