FRISCO, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys had their national visitors come to The Star this week to meet with coaches, medical staff, scouts and front office, most notably owner and general manager Jerry Jones.
The Cowboys have a couple of spots remaining for any last-second visits, but their list is usually a good barometer of whom they will eventually select. Since 2005, the Cowboys have used their first selection on a player to visit Valley Ranch or The Star all but three times: LB DeMarcus Ware (2005), CB Morris Claiborne (2012) and WR CeeDee Lamb (2020). Lamb’s case was different because players were not allowed to make in-person visits to facilities because of the pandemic. He said the only contact he had with the Cowboys prior to that draft was at the combine. Last year’s first selection, linebacker Micah Parsons, had a virtual visit with the Cowboys.
The Cowboys had first-round talents at defensive tackle (Georgia’s Jordan Davis) and linebacker (Utah’s Devin Lloyd) in for visits, but they had multiple first-round prospects in the building at wide receiver and offensive line.
Why those spots?
At receiver, the Cowboys traded Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns and lost Cedrick Wilson to the Miami Dolphins in free agency. They re-signed Michael Gallup, who could miss the first few games as he recovers from knee surgery, and added James Washington.
On the offensive line, left guard Connor Williams joined the Dolphins and the Cowboys released right tackle La’el Collins, who signed with the Cincinnati Bengals. They have not added an offensive lineman yet in free agency.
When asked at the NFL owners meetings about taking an offensive lineman early, Jones told reporters: “Famous last words: We’ll get one unless Lamb or Parsons is there.”
With the help of ESPN draft expert Jordan Reid, here is a look at the fits of the receivers and linemen who stopped by The Star this week:
WR Chris Olave, Ohio State: “I’d be surprised if he got past Green Bay at No. 22. Just smooth overall. That’s how I’d describe him: very smooth route runner, very deceptive, has plenty of vertical speed. He’s got good hand-eye coordination to track the ball. I don’t think he’ll be there at 24, but he’d be a good fit. Complements Lamb and Gallup well because those guys don’t attack the deep part as consistently as he does. He’d unlock that third level.”
WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas: “He’s a little bit underdeveloped compared to some of the others just because they had him play — outside of the offensive line — anywhere when he was at Arkansas. You had to pause the screen to find 16. He’d be at quarterback, running back, the slot, even H-back. They used him in a multiple of ways, but in some ways that was a disservice to him because he didn’t get to develop as a route runner. That’s something you notice a lot on tape. He moves around a lot so he’s a jack of all trades but a master of none. But if you get him with a creative offensive coordinator like Kellen Moore, utilize his skill set, he’ll be fine.”
(ESPN NFL analyst Matt Bowen tabbed Dallas as a good landing spot for Burks based on scheme, team needs and value.)
WR Drake London: “He’s probably the most polarizing guy of the group because obviously we’ve not seen him do any pre-draft stuff. His pro day is April 15 so we’ll know more. But he’s a big body [6-foot-4, 219 pounds]. He reminds me a lot of Mike Williams when he came out of Clemson and is now with the Chargers. He’s big. He’ll go get it. Right now, I think he’s a little bit of an underrated route runner. He can give you plenty after the catch. That’s what’s different with some of these other guys.”
OG Kenyon Green, Texas A&M: “Without question, he is a Day 1 starter at left guard. Just the experience he had at A&M. He pretty much played every position outside of center, but he did some snapping at the combine, so maybe some view him as a center/guard. He played left tackle but I don’t see him doing that at the next level. I think he gives you real value on the interior and he walks through the door [as the starter] if you’re playing him at center or guard if you’re not confident in [Tyler] Biadasz or if he’s Connor Williams’ replacement. I think that is more realistic.”
OG Zion Johnson, Boston College: “He’s one of my favorite players in the whole class. I’ve been impressed with him throughout the pre-draft process from start to finish. He played guard and tackle at BC and we’ve seen him play center through the pre-draft process and at the Senior Bowl. He played there for the first time and there was not a drop-off at all. He can play center and guard. I don’t think he’s a tackle, but him, [center Tyler] Linderbaum and Green, I feel confident being interior guys from Day 1. If [Johnson] is there at 24, I run the card up as fast as I can.”
OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State: “I see him going in the top 15. I don’t think he gets past the Saints at No. 16 or the Chargers at 17 since both have needs at tackle. He’s not going to be for everybody just because of his inexperience as a run-blocker. With [Mississippi State coach] Mike Leach’s system, it was 81% to 19% as far as pass to run. He’s very inexperienced as a run-blocker. He can do it, but it’s just that he’s not as experienced doing it. As a pass-protector, he’s more polished. If you’re more pass-happy and want to put the ball in the air, you’re going to be interested in Cross. If you’re Pittsburgh or Baltimore, a ground-and-pound team, I don’t know.”
OT Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan: “There’s a lot of mixed opinions right now. I see him more in the second round, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he goes in the first. He’s going to be a little older, a 25-year-old rookie. He’s going to be 25 once he starts his first year and there will be some teams that have age thresholds that they’re going to be out on that, especially talking about longevity and a second contract on a 30-year-old. He might be down the board a little bit but he started off as a tight end, then transitioned to tackle. He has plenty of strength. I think he’s a right tackle only right now but it wouldn’t surprise me if someone thinks he can play left tackle.”