Welcome to the NFL, rookies.
Friday marks the start of minicamp for 29 NFL teams, including the Cowboys. Drafted prospects, undrafted free agents, and others simply invited for tryouts- 31 players in all- will go through three days of initial evaluation at The Star in Frisco as they prepare to compete with the team’s veterans for a spot on the final roster.
Will McClay, the Cowboys’ vice president of player personnel and the man who had a hand in each one of them being given the opportunity, had a final word of advice for the youngsters.
“This isn’t college anymore,” McClay said, in part. “Now it’s a job.”
ESPN’s Todd Archer got McClay’s scouting report on all 11 of the Cowboys’ draft picks as they prepare for their first day on the company payroll. Here are excerpts from his comments:
First-round LB Micah Parsons
Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons (11) in action against Purdue during an NCAA college football game in State College, Pa., on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)
"At the end of the day, he can play all three downs, sideline to sideline. He's impactful with his speed, his physical play inside the box, playing off blocks, exploiting gaps from a pressure standpoint, as well as pressure off the edge. Then there's the intensity that he plays with. When you're making an investment in a player... you want a player who can do multiple things. That provides you with the flexibility in how to use him now and what he grows into in the future."
Second-round CB Kelvin Joseph
Kentucky defensive back Kelvin Joseph (1) makes an interception in the end zone against Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Mickey Welsh/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP)
"He's got first-round coverage ability. When we were rating the corners throughout the year, he stood out with his ability to be able to cover in press and in man-to-man... His speed is No. 1. His competitiveness, playing press, off, zone stuff, man, getting the football, the ability to cancel his guy out, he's a natural cover guy."
Third-round DT Osa Odighizuwa
Fresno State quarterback Marcus McMaryion, right, is tackled by UCLA defensive lineman Osa Odighizuwa during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
"The first thing was the way he played, the motor he played with, and the ability to be versatile. With his size and length, he has the flexibility to play all across the line while having the 3-technique quickness and traits. He's got large hands, long arms. He's got that natural leverage."
Third-round DE Chauncey Golston
Iowa left end Chauncey Golston hits Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez to force a fumble late in the game at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Friday, Nov. 27, 2020.
"The more you watched the guy, the more you loved the way that he plays the game. He's a smart player. He's got that athleticism. He has length. You watch him, and he's a tone-setter type of player from a standpoint of how physical and how hard he plays. How he plays the game was the biggest key for us in looking at how he fit what we want."
Third-round CB Nahshon Wright
"One of the things you talk about when comparing players is, 'Name me another one, a 6-foot-4 corner.' There's only been a couple... The No. 1 thing is the way he competed. The other thing was he's a former receiver. You won't get turnovers miraculously. People have to have that ball instinct. Being a receiver first, you know that he knows how to catch the ball."
Fourth-round LB Jabril Cox
LSU defensive back Jabril Cox returns an interception against Arkansas during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)
"This game is becoming more of a space game with tight ends and backs. There is value in that because you need guys that are able to cover, able to play in space and able to play in the run game. He's a guy that fits what we're trying to go as well as where the league is going. "
Fourth-round T Josh Ball
Courtesy of Marshall University
"He has the size, length, and athletic ability to play right tackle or left tackle, the demeanor he plays with, he plays with length and effort, he's got really, really good football character. He plays with a nasty disposition... [His off-the-field issues from Florida State] are serious and we take them serious. We know our people don't feel like it's going to be something we need to worry about. We feel like we put the puzzle of who this guy is together and we're comfortable."
Fifth-round WR Simi Fehoko
Oct 5, 2019; Stanford, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal wide receiver Simi Fehoko (13) catches a pass ahead of Washington Huskies defensive back Elijah Molden (3) during the first quarter at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
"He's one of those players you continue to watch and you see the upside, you see the way he impacted the team at Stanford. Then you see the things he needs to work on, but all the tools are there... At the level you're drafting, it's, 'Hey, he's a backup that can develop into a starter that can help on special teams,' and you see that impact."
Sixth-round DT Quinton Bohanna
Tennessee defensive lineman Quay Picou and Kentucky defensive lineman Quinton Bohanna block each other during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017, in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/David Stephenson)
"We saw some flashes of a big, athletic guy with the ability to be an enforcer on the inside. He's not a finished product, but all of the abilities are there, 6-4, 327 pounds, 34-inch arms, big hands. He's got some instincts and there's a sneaky athlete in there, too. There's not a lot of [true nose tackles in college football these days]. They have to be dominant."
Sixth-round CB Israel Mukuamu
South Carolina defensive back Israel Mukuamu intercepts a pass intended for Georgia wide receiver George Pickens during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct., 12, 2019, in Athens, Ga. Mukuamu returned the ball for a touchdown. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
"A big, long corner that has also played some free safety that gives you position flexibility, gives you ball skills. His arms are 34 inches, which is the length of most offensive linemen. I always say offensive lineman are like defensive backs because they do the unnatural thing: they have to play backwards... Athleticism and length allows you to play in those unnatural positions."
Seventh-round G Matt Farniok
Nebraska offensive lineman Matt Farniok (71) plays against Purdue during the first half of an NCAA college football game in West Lafayette, Ind., Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
"He's a guy that played all over the line at Nebraska... When you're looking for tough, physical guys on the offensive line, the fact he can play all three spots, have that versatility is a key. You look at the ability to compete for a roster spot, so when you look at maybe what your position needs are and who best fits that ball, who can come in and compete, he was the guy to take."