It’s a time-honored tradition here on Blogging The Boys, dating all the way back to 2011, to build a draft board populated with players the Cowboys have invited for official pre-draft visits or have otherwise had significant interaction with.
And that significant interaction has to be more than just some random players the Cowboys talked with on the sidelines of a pro day or a bowl game, or one of the 45 18-minute interviews allowed at the NFL Combine. Why? Because those are not sufficient to get to know a prospect well enough.
We can assume the Cowboys are legitimately interested in the players they’ve brought in for visits, or players they had private workouts with. Which is exactly what happened with Tyler Smith last year.
Tyler Smith, a local kid, wasn't a Dallas Day or one of the 30 day visits, but Mike McCarthy said he got high marks from film work with Cowboys coaches and private workouts. Will McClay said there was no need to do it.— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) April 29, 2022
We know the Cowboys traditionally whittle down the 450 or so draft-eligible players to roughly 130 names that populate their final draft board.
By adding up the players from the Top 30 visits and private workouts (with a smattering of Dallas day participants as well) we tend to get 40-50 names each year, and with that we should know 30-40% of the players on the Cowboys board, which is already some good information to work with.
In the past, we’ve summarized those names on what rabblerousr used to call a “Little Board,” a board only containing players the Cowboys had more than a fleeting interest in.
In addition, by looking at which positions receive the most invitations, we can get a better idea about which positions the Dallas brain trust is honing in on - not that that’s a big secret this year.
On to this year’s little board: I have whittled down the names of potential prospects to 41, which you will find below. The trickiest part of this exercise is correctly slotting the players by round, and my guesses may well be quite a bit off from where the team has a given player slotted on its board. A note on the color codes:
- Players in blue are official pre-draft invitees (“Top 30”)
- Players in red are all the known players the Cowboys have had a private workout with
- Players in yellow are “Dallas Day” participants that rank in the top 537 on the consensus big board at nflmockdraftdatabase.com
|OL||Darnell Wright||Steve Avila||JuicyScruggs||Antonio Mafi|
|WR||Quentin Johnston||Josh Downs||Marvin Mims||Jonathan Mingo||Malik Knowles|
|Zay Flowers||Tank Dell||Keilahn Harris|
|Jalin Hyatt||Rashee Rice|
|TE||Darnell Washington||Cameron Latu||Payne Durham||Brayden Willis|
|RB||Tyjae Spears||Zach Evans||Jarek Broussard|
|QB||Aidan O'Connell||Clayton Tune||Max Duggan|
|DE||Viliami Fehoko||B.J. Thompson|
|DT||Jaquelin Roy||Tyler Lacy||Calvin Avery|
|LB||Drew Sanders||DeMarvion Overshown||Marte Mapu||Dee Winters|
|CB||Emmanuel Forbes||Tyrique Stevenson||Tre'Vius Hodges-Tomlinson|
A few attendant thoughts.
Wide receiver seems an obvious, early-round target, while the offensive line feels more like an afterthought this year.
Offense vs. defense. There are 27 players listed on offense, but only 14 on defense. Could this year be a reverse of the 2021 draft, where 8 of 11 picks were on defense? It’s quite possible the Cowboys could end up with five players for the offense and just two for the defense.
The challenge of drafting at the bottom of each round. There are 11 players listed here as potential first- or second-round picks. But drafting at the bottom of each round means only a few, if any, of the players listed in each round will still be available at the bottom of each round.
The Cowboys might be well advised to think of their picks not as the bottom picks in each round, but the top picks in the next round. Some might argue that this is just a glass half full versus half empty distinction, but it does change the discussion from having limited options at the bottom of the each round to having almost unlimited options at the top of the next round.
The color scheme: Typically, the Cowboys spend most of their Top 30 visits on day one and day two prospects (marked in blue). They then supplement those premium prospects with later round options they worked out privately (green), and then bring in a lot of potential college free agents for Dallas Day (yellow).
But not this year. Half of their Top 30 visits were with Day Three or free agent prospects. That feels like a questionable allocation of those scarce Top 30 visits, especially considering the relative lack of Top 30 players in the middle rounds.
Taking all of these factors into consideration, here’s a mock based entirely on players from the little board above.
Don’t like Zay Flowers as your top pick? How about Darnell Wright?
What do you think, BTB Nation? Taking the names and general slots from the chart above, what would your ideal *no-trade* mock look like?
If you want to create your own draft board, create your own mock draft, or simply want to argue where a prospect should be ranked, here are all the prospects listed above as well as where they rank on four different draft boards: the consensus big board at nflmockdraftdatabase.com (537 prospects), CBS (400 prospects), NFL.com (319), and PFF (401).
|2023 Prospects with documented Cowboys interest|
|17||13||28||10||Quentin Johnston||WR||TCU||Top 30|
|25||23||20||35||Darnell Wright||OT||Tennesse||Top 30|
|26||20||16||29||Zay Flowers||WR||Boston College||Top 30|
|31||34||34||68||Darnell Washington||TE||Georgia||Top 30|
|35||40||42||31||Emmanuel Forbes||CB||Mississippi State||Top 30|
|38||65||10||77||Jalin Hyatt||WR||Tennessee||Top 30|
|40||42||9||54||Drew Sanders||LB||Arkansas||Top 30|
|48||59||77||78||Trenton Simpson||LB||Clemson||Top 30|
|49||46||15||40||Josh Downs||WR||North Carolina||Top 30|
|51||36||59||47||Steve Avila||OL||TCU||Top 30|
|68||99||78||46||Tyrique Stevenson||CB||Miami||Top 30|
|76||94||89||99||Tyjae Spears||RB||Tulane||Private WO|
|77||89||72||44||Tank Dell||WR||Houston||Private WO|
|79||103||68||109||Marvin Mims||WR||Oklahoma||Dallas Day|
|85||160||120||59||Tre'Vius Hodges-Tomlinson||CB||TCU||Dallas Day|
|87||81||155||76||Rashee Rice||WR||SMU||Private WO|
|89||187||175||112||DeMarvion Overshown||LB||Texas||Top 30|
|107||156||76||148||Jonathan Mingo||WR||Ole Miss||Top 30|
|108||154||73||135||Zach Evans||RB||Ole Miss||Top 30|
|111||100||202||126||Roschon Johnson||RB||Texas||Private WO|
|115||180||168||97||Kendre Miller||RB||TCU||Top 30|
|125||97||65||113||Jaquelin Roy||DT||LSU||Top 30|
|161||159||172||202||Aidan O'Connell||QB||Purdue||Private WO|
|165||194||139||233||Cameron Latu||TE||Alabama||Top 30|
|167||295||109||183||Tyler Lacy||DL||Oklahoma State||Top 30|
|170||149||203||121||Viliami Fehoko||DL||San Jose State||Top 30|
|171||175||226||168||Clayton Tune||QB||Houston||Top 30|
|179||210||151||103||Juice Scruggs||OL||Penn State||Private WO|
|193||291||242||194||Payne Durham||TE||Purdue||Top 30|
|212||313||307||339||Max Duggan||QB||TCU||Dallas Day|
|228||375||259||321||Michael Turk||P||Oklahoma||Dallas Day|
|240||374||186||232||Dee Winters||LB||TCU||Dallas Day|
|245||86||- -||139||Marte Mapu||LB/S||Sacramento State||Top 30|
|268||206||- -||190||Atonio Mafi||OL||UCLA||Top 30|
|276||223||268||295||Brayden Willis||TE||Oklahoma||Top 30|
|295||258||246||355||Malik Knowles||WR||Kansas State||Dallas Day|
|338||380||- -||231||B.J. Thompson||EDGE||Stephen F. Austin||Top 30|
|373||- -||- -||- -||Calvin Avery||DT||Illinois||Dallas Day|
|377||353||266||322||Alan Ali||OL||TCU||Dallas Day|
|435||- -||- -||- -||Keilahn Harris||WR||Oklahoma-Baptist||Dallas Day|
|458||186||- -||- -||Tanner McCalister||S||Ohio State||Top 30|
|460||- -||- -||- -||Jarek Broussard||RB||Michigan State||Dallas Day|
|- -||- -||- -||- -||Ilm Manning||OL||Hawaii||Top 30|
|- -||- -||- -||- -||Durrell Johnson||LB||Liberty||Top 30|
|- -||- -||- -||- -||Jimmy Phillips Jr.||LB||SMU||Dallas Day|
|- -||- -||- -||- -||Jason Shelley II||QB||Missouri State||Dallas Day|
|- -||- -||- -||- -||Logan Bonner||QB||Utah State||Dallas Day|