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The importance of the 2021 draft for the Dallas Cowboys cannot be understated. The club is coming off a second-straight season without making the playoffs and is trending in the wrong direction. A winning streak down the tail end of the year kept the Cowboys from having a top-5 selection, but make no mistake, this was one of the worst teams in football for much of the season.
Now, there were certainly mitigating circumstances. Injuries hopefully will not have as severe an impact and the club moved to replace the majority of the defensive coaching staff. Still, salary cap issues could prevent the club from making any impactful waves in free agency depending on whether or not they can work out a long-term agreement with quarterback Dak Prescott. That’s why the NFL’s restrictions on draft prospects laid out this week are going to be extremely detrimental to the Cowboys’ cause. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, there will be no private workouts, timing, testing or in-person interviewing with any of the prospects outside of collegiate Pro Days or all-star games.
The Senior Bowl is happening this week in Mobile, AL. It is normally one of the four major tenets of the pre-draft process, but now the combine and individual workouts are out of the picture. That means that the underclassmen who declared and those players who were not invited to the all-star games will not get a chance to meet with teams and get any measurables on file until their Pro Days.
Pro Day numbers are notoriously discounted because they are on fields and tracks the players are normally accustomed to, and don’t allow a uniform comparison against the rest of the draft classmates who will all test in different environments.
NFL teams won’t be flying blind, but they will be severely restricted from their normal amount of information gathering, and for a team that is going to be reliant on the draft like Dallas is, that’s very limiting.