With the 2018 NFL Draft coming into focus more and more each day, and the new league year set to enter April and proceed towards April 26th-28th's event from AT&T Stadium, the realization that this 2018 Draft class is shallow compared to recent years has brought things full circle.
Typically, the prospects linked to a team by either their fans or reporters at the beginning of the offseason are washed away in the month actually leading up to the draft. In the Cowboys' case, their recent presence at some of the top schools in the nation for pro days links them to a number of exciting prospects that have been on Cowboys Nation's radar for a while now.
Inside The Star at Frisco, preparations for the draft will be constantly moving forward, though we can take the luxury here to look back at the importance the week so far has had on the Cowboys.
Alabama Crimson Tide Pro Day
Top Draft Eligible Prospects: WR Calvin Ridley, LB Rashaan Evans, DT Da'Ron Payne, CB/S Minkah Fitzpatrick, S Ronnie Harrison
In the aftermath of the Cowboys using their 28th overall pick on Taco Charlton a year ago, it was revealed that this “controversial” pick was mostly fought for by Head Coach Jason Garrett.
On Wednesday, Garrett and the Cowboys' staff departed from the annual NFL coaches meetings to attend Alabama's pro day – Garrett's first formal stop of the season.
Jason Garrett & a Cowboys contingent of coaches & scouts will be in Alabama on Wednesday for the school's 2nd Pro Day. It will Be Garrett's first campus trip leading up to April draft.
— David Moore (@DavidMooreDMN) March 27, 2018
The possibilities are endless when it comes to Crimson Tide prospects that the Cowboys could be interested in. My most recent roundup of national mock drafts pegged both Linebacker Rashaan Evans and Defensive Tackle Da'Ron Payne to the Cowboys. Wide Receiver Calvin Ridley also remains in play for pick #19, even with the team adding Allen Hurns.
Though no formal interest has been announced between the Dallas Cowboys and DT Da'Ron Payne, they do have a 30 visit set with Rashaan Evans, and met with Ridley at the Scouting Combine.
Both defenders have the floor to make an immediate impact on this team's front seven, adding an overall toughness to the unit.
Payne fits the Cowboys' “box” for 1T DTs, with the ability to dip his shoulders and get up the field against the pass. Evans would be an ideal compliment to Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee, an instinctive linebacker with the upside to become one of the biggest steals in this draft.
Florida Gators Pro Day
Top Draft Eligible Prospects: DT Taven Bryan, CB Duke Dawson, WR Antonio Callaway, TE DeAndre Goolsby
Staying in the SEC, Cowboys Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli was spotted at the pro day of the Florida Gators.
Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli with #Gators DT Taven Bryan. pic.twitter.com/u2vti68aWm
— Ryan Young (@RyanYoungRivals) March 28, 2018
To nobody's surprise, Marinelli was taking special interest in Defensive Tackle Taven Bryan. A true Marinelli prospect all the way, Bryan is a budding prospect that's risen up draft boards given his incredibly high ceiling.
Profiled as a potential pick for the Cowboys here, Bryan is raw in his overall game as a 3T DT, but was disruptive enough against top college competition to warrant an early pick. Bryan would fill a need for the Cowboys, as the team did not address their defensive front at all in free agency.
Come draft night, it will be fascinating to see just how much pull Rod Marinelli will find in the Cowboys' war room. It is widely believed that 2018 will be his last season in Dallas, and a wealth of potential replacements – along with new coaches on offense – will all be fighting for “their guys”.
Taven Bryan is going to be one of Rod Marinelli's guys.
Maryland Terrapins Pro Day
Top Draft Eligible Prospects: WR D.J. Moore, CB JC Jackson
The D.J. Moore train is full steam ahead! Even before the dynamic Maryland receiver blew up the Scouting Combine, the fit between Moore and the Cowboys has made a lot of sense.
As mentioned with Calvin Ridley, who should come off the board before Moore, the Cowboys should absolutely still be in the market for a WR with their first pick. Using this pick on Moore would fully upgrade Dak Prescott's stable of pass catchers, with the addition of a speedy rookie that can separate down the field and make defenders miss easily in the open field.
Eagles, Bills, Chiefs, Cowboys, 49ers, Texans, Seahawks, Vikings, Falcons, Jets, Dolphins, Saints, Redskins, Raiders, Giants, Bucs, and Colts are all here for Maryland pro day. WR DJ Moore is the featured prospect.
— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) March 28, 2018
In watching D.J. Moore at his pro day, the Cowboys are doing their due diligence on a prospect that will also visit The Star for a pre-draft visit. Moore met with the Cowboys at the Combine as well.
Texas Longhorns Pro Day
Top Draft Eligible Prospects: S DeShon Elliott, DT Poona Ford, LB Malik Jefferson, CB Holton Hill, OT Connor Williams
Last but certainly not least on the Cowboys' recent flurry of activity is of course their stop at Texas' local pro day.
Decent amount of draft-caliber dudes at Texas' pro day today. As far as the Cowboys are concerned, the guys that stick out to me are LB Malik Jefferson and S DeShon Elliott.
— David Helman (@davidhelman_) March 28, 2018
Most Texas Longhorns prospects will be eligible to participate in the Cowboys' “Dallas Day” – an opportunity to workout local players without burning valuable 30 visits.
This will be the case for Linebacker Malik Jefferson and Safety DeShon Elliott. In which rounds the Cowboys could target both players remains to be ironed out, but they have shown special interest in Elliott, meeting with the athletic safety already.
I would also add Longhorns' prospect Connor Williams to any list of potential Cowboys targets, as Williams was once considered a top OT (and overall) prospect in 2017. Returning to school off of an injury, Williams did struggle at times this season, and has been projected by some as an interior player now.
In the market for a starting left guard still, along with as much depth as possible up front, the Cowboys could see plenty of value in taking their chance on Connor Williams.
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Just in Texas alone today, three more pro days will take place at SMU, Houston, and Rice. With the full circuit of pro days concluding on April 6th, it is important to step back and check in with the Cowboys' decision makers this week.
Presented with the opportunity to put the Cowboys back in contention quickly, with ten total picks in their home draft, the brain trust of the Dallas Cowboys has been out in full force to – excitingly – look at prospects that even casual fans should have a handle on.
With plenty of work left to be done around the league before the Cleveland Browns go on the clock, do not be surprised when the latest rookie to earn his star as this team's first round pick is one mentioned above.