Here’s why the list of Cowboys’ combine meetings matters so much
The NFL Scouting Combine is a great time for fans to watch their favorite NFL prospects test and measure. It helps draft boards take shape and puts college media guides to task. For as enlightening as the testing and drills can be for fans and media, their impact for most NFL teams like the Cowboys can be a little overblown.
Dallas will undoubtedly use player measurements to determine if prospects will meet their minimum thresholds, but the most important part of the combine is what’s happening behind the scenes.
Medical checks and team interviews are arguably the high-priority elements of the combine for most teams. Many of the players participating have already proven they have the athletic ability to compete at the highest levels. What teams want to know is if their body and their mind are up to the task.
Attitude and intelligence go a long way in determining success. A great interview can do wonders for a player’s stock just like a bad interview can remove someone from a team’s draft board entirely.
Thanks to the diligent tracking efforts by several in and around the combine, Cowboys Wire has been able to keep a running tally of the Cowboys’ interviews. With only 45 total official meetings allowed, each interview is important and each provides insight into Dallas’ plans for the draft.
Understandably, the Cowboys are interviewing more players at certain positions and less players at others. Dallas notoriously fills holes with the draft (as opposed to free agency) so many of the holes today will be the same holes on April 27 when the draft kicks off.
Positions the Cowboys are targeting
It should be of no surprise cornerback tops the list as the Cowboys’ most interviewed position. 2022 starter, Anthony Brown, is a free agent and coming off an Achilles injury.
As things look now, Dallas is in the market for a starting cornerback and the draft is the most cost-effective place to fill that need. With Trevon Diggs looking for a new deal, cost-effective solutions are critical and many expect the Cowboys to be hunting for an immediate starter early.
As one of the deepest position groups in the draft, it’s a good year to be hunting for cornerbacks and Dallas seems to be doing their due diligence, scouting multiple cornerbacks in multiple rounds.
Coming in second on the “most scouted position list” is safety. Even though Jayron Kearse and Malik Hooker are under contract for one more season, the Cowboys are waist-deep in safety prospects this year. Dallas leans on the safety position heavily in their scheme so it’s understandable they’re sifting through the prospects.
Next on the list is receiver. The Cowboys were thin at receiver last season and appear to be thin heading into next season. While they hope Michael Gallup and Jalen Tolbert will take steps forward in 2023, they can’t bank on it.
Looking through the list of interviews, Dallas is scouting receivers of all types. From first rounders, to late rounders; from big, to small; it appears the Cowboys are keeping their options open, even if they have a well-documented penchant for big-bodied pass-catchers.
Dallas scouts the entire draft
It’s important to note, just because the Cowboys are scouting cornerback, safety, and receiver the most, doesn’t mean they’re targeting those three positions with their first three picks.
Some positions they’ve scouted are made up of more middle-and-late-round players; positions like safety.
Like most teams, Dallas would like to know the players they’re selecting in every round. Ideally, they would speak to most of their future players at some point in the draft process, which means interviewing players who are predicted be late round picks.
Based on the players the Cowboys have met with and their expected draft positions at this moment, it looks like Dallas is targeting cornerback, receiver, and running back with their first three picks. But multiple offensive and defensive linemen also fit into that top-100 range so one can assume they are keeping all their options open at this point.
The Cowboys were in full-on work mode in Indianapolis this past weekend. The combine is one part player evaluation, one part meet and great, and one hundred parts business. Who the Cowboys decide to meet with is very telling of their intentions and their targets.
They don’t have meetings with players who aren’t options (minus the occasional misdirect) so keeping track of the meetings is of the utmost importance. It doesn’t just tell who Dallas is scouting, but what positions they are targeting and what types of profiles at said positions are they focusing.