While the world adjusts to how COVID-19 is affecting them, the Dallas Cowboys are in a weird position. Their whole offseason habit has changed. There’s a new coaching staff, they’ve only had limited in-person contact with players and personnel for about a month and the only time they’ve spent with any prospects was the Senior Bowl or who they met with at the Scouting Combine. All of this leading up to what will likely be the toughest draft the Cowboys have ever had to do.
We all saw how free agency gave the sporting world a break from what was going on outside and allowed them to forget for a bit. Even though there were no actual sports on, the link to the NFL gave it so much attention. With that in mind, the draft will probably be paid just as much if not more attention to, even despite the changes to the broadcasting format.
Up to this point, the only in-person contact the Cowboys have had with prospects have been the 36 players they met with between the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine.
Aside from any of these players, all of this year’s official visits have come via Skype. It likely won’t be an all-day thing like most of the 30 official visits are and thus won’t be able to show off the facilities or some of the big names in the organization.
What’s worse is that what was going to be a smaller war room for the draft has all but ended. Originally, the idea was that Commissioner Goodell would announce the picks and each team would allow their facilities to host a draft day team of only a small, select group; likely the owner, general manager, head coach, both coordinators, assistant head coach, etc. in order to comply with the less than 10 person group rule.
However, it was announced on Saturday that not only would the draft still take place from April 23-25 as scheduled but now teams won’t be allowed in their facilities for it either. These drafts will essentially be done with everyone at home, away from everyone else.
More than likely Owners/GMs will invite the head coach and select personnel to their homes for the draft process but it still limits all the people they’d like to be in attendance, meaning phone calls both in and out of the organization will take up most of the time.
It looks as if Will McClay and the whole scouting department are really going to earn their money this time.
With limited contact with players, all of their picks will have to be largely based on film studies. They’ve done a great job in recent memory of picking great players, but this year they will be relied upon even more.
The number of reasons why this year’s draft will be different, bringing on new challenges, difficulties, and inability to be with people in-person is going to affect the Cowboys and the entire league. With this new draft format, no OTAs, relying on players to keep themselves in shape, and trying to come to an agreement among player selections when people can’t even be in the same room is going to show its ugly side.
Hopefully, the Cowboys are doing their homework more than ever.
There will always be challenges but when outside forces bring themselves into the room with you, only the strong survive.