One thing I love about Cowboys Nation is the abundance of fans who make it a point to be educated and informed on the ins-and-outs of the Dallas Cowboys. This time of year, a lot of fan discourse is centered around how the Cowboys might draft in a couple of months.
While there are lots of football nerds dedicating themselves to Cowboys content, many casual fans struggle a bit with draft talk. They're interested enough to keep up with big names and important events. Making their own predictions, however, presents a bit of a challenge.
There is a portion of the Cowboys fanbase that gets relatively quiet this time of year. They don't know enough about draft eligible players to contribute to conversations about the upcoming draft. With the amount of information Cowboys draft analysts bring to the table, sometimes it's hard to imagine even being able to keep up
And this is one point where my worlds intersect.
For those who don't know, I host a podcast that is part of a brand of which part of the mission is educating women who want to enhance their experience as sports fans. In our women-only Facebook group, the BLS Community, members recently asked for help keeping up with and talking about the upcoming draft.
So, the following is a written version of the recommendations in the BLS group. It has been tailored specifically for Cowboys fans, of course. If you're looking for a relatively quick and easy way to join in on Cowboys draft talk, this is the guide for you.
BEFORE YOU START
Before you get started, keep in mind that this all done for fun. There are no indisputably correct answers. There is no “right way” to keep up with the Cowboys or draft prospects. This is your hobby. Approach it in whatever way works for you.
As a pastime, discussing the draft is all about bringing information to the table and exchanging ideas. I've listened to Cowboys fans spend hours discussing prospects, what round it makes sense to take them in, whether their position is a team need, if they'd be a good fit, and so on.
Getting “good” at draft talk isn't about being right. It's about being informed, using that information to make predictions, and comparing your predictions to other people's. That's it. That's the game.
So if that sounds like a good time to you, please continue reading.
If you take disagreements over draft prospects personally: pic.twitter.com/McUa8sW1U7
#1 FOLLOW YOUR FAVORITE Cowboys Draft EXPERTS
A lot of sports content creators are creating draft content this time of year. Following the ones who create Cowboys-specific content will help you out when it comes to understanding what factors to consider for predictions and what draft scenarios make the most sense. Here are a few notable sources of Cowboys draft content.
- The Draft Show: This show is produced by the Dallas Cowboys. It's aired on their digital platforms and is available on the Dallas Cowboys YouTube channel. Every week the hosts discuss who the Cowboys should draft, usually one position at a time.One of the show's hosts, Kyle Youmans accepts question submissions via twitter. Just use the hashtag #TwitterOnThe20 and he might address your draft-related inquiries.
- BJ Nix of Pick 6 Sports hosts weekly Twitter Spaces discussing Dallas Cowboys draft prospects for 2023. Nix and other fans spend hours discussing their mock drafts and exchanging information.If you can't sit through the entire discussion, you can always listen to the recording at your leisure.
The Space is LIVE!!! https://t.co/iH2d9CgWya
- Jordan Tucker is both a professed Cowboys fan and NFL draft analyst. He tweets a lot about the Cowboys and the draft. Those same topics are covered on his YouTube channel. If you're looking for ways to casually get more draft content, turn on your Twitter notifications for @jtuck151.
#2 Be Prepared to NERD OUT A LITTLE BIT
Discussing the Dallas Cowboys' draft prospects beyond the hype of Bijan Robinson requires studying and research. You have to know draft eligible players, their tendencies, their histories, their pros, and their cons.
This means that as you're listening to or watching the the draft content you discovered in step 1, you're going to want to take notes. Passive listening won't get you very far.
Taking notes could be something as simple as creating a searchable document on your phone with names, positions, and a couple of points about each player. It could also be as detailed as creating a spreadsheet with a separate tab for each position and 8 columns of information to compare players.
You might have to try a couple of different methods to find the one that fits you best.
Just know that anyone you see discussing the draft regularly from an informed perspective is taking notes in some way. You shouldn't feel awkward or reluctant about doing this. It's both common and necessary.
Those discussing the draft also do some form of studying. If you're comfortable watching film, you can find film of most draft eligible players online.
If film watching isn't your thing, you can usually do an online search of draft eligible players and learn a lot from what others have written about them. This can be useful whether or not you evaluate film yourself.
If you aren't being paid for your opinion, feel free to use other people's observations to compare players and make predictions. If you do this, just be sure to shout them out and share their content sometimes.
#3 Know Your Team
If the NFL Draft was a college course, it would have two prerequisites: Free Agency 101 and Player Positional Attributes 201.
It's impossible to discuss how the Cowboys should draft without understanding team needs. Discussing team needs means discussing who may or may not need to be replaced. For 2023, there are a few perspectives from which you will want to think about the needs of the Dallas Cowboys.
The Dallas Cowboys currently have 24 pending free agents. Several of them contributed a lot to the successes of the team during the 2022 season. Tony Pollard, Dalton Schultz, Cooper Rush, and Leighton Vander Esch are a few players frequently debated when it comes to who the Cowboys should keep or let go.
Free agency discussions also involve who the Cowboys should acquire. For example, several people think the Cowboys should draft a cornerback or offensive lineman but look to free agency for a wide receiver.
Salary caps and contracts
When discussing team needs and free agency, some might suggest players who should be cut or have their deals restructured. These are players who are not free agents, but decisions related to them might affect free agency moves.
Right now, the contracts of Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott, and Demarcus Lawrence come up a lot in these conversations. This is another area where you can feel free to trust the takes of your favorite analyst instead of personally doing the digging and forming an opinion.
Not sure where everyone is with their understanding, but here's an article that explains some salary cap concepts. https://t.co/ys9dKGD37H
Know who the Cowboys already have in certain positions. Do you think they need better playmakers in certain positions? Are there any positions you think they absolutely should not draft for in the first round?
Keep the depth chart in mind and make adjustments to it based on your free agency and salary cap related predictions.
An updated depth chart for the Dallas Cowboys can be found on the ESPN website.
Some draft analysts make predictions based on who is considered to be the best available at a certain position. Others will go a step further and make predictions about who would be a good fit with the team's current coaches and personnel.
For example, maybe a particular running back or wide receiver is considered to be the “best,” but some analysts might believe a different player would fit better with what they think Mike McCarthy's offense will look like in 2023.
Iisha Morrison, one of the hosts of the Draft Show, is an absolute pro at evaluating players this way. When you're taking notes from her or any other analysts, listen for those specific comments and details. Make note of them. They make for very good points of discussion when talking about the draft with other fans.
#4 Do Some Mock Drafts
Contrary to what Cowboys Twitter might have you believe, you can do mock drafts without posting them.
If you're new to making draft predictions, mock drafts can be a good way to learn names that you aren't already familiar with. It can also give you an idea of where other people have players ranked. You might even uncover some questions about team needs or positional value from doing mock drafts.
Even if you don't share your Cowboys mock draft, completing one might lead you to ask other fans questions like, “Would you draft a receiver in the first round?” or “What do you think we should do if [insert player] is still available at the 26th pick?”
Use mock drafts as a learning tool. You can save them if you want to, but you don't have to share them unless you're comfortable opening yourself up to that kind of feedback and criticism.
#5 Pick your platform
Once you feel informed enough to start talking about the draft with other fans, decide what medium or platform you want to use to do that. Lots of Cowboys fans and content creators are active on Twitter. If you can deliver your takes in 280 characters or less, that might be a good place to start.
If you want to work with a smaller community first, consider joining a Twitter community or a Facebook group.
Starting with a handful of friends who are also Cowboys fans could be an option as well. Once again, this is a hobby and should be fun. Pick a platform you're comfortable with and go from there.
Advice from COWBOYS DRAFT ANALYSTS
BJ Nix and Dominic White of Pick 6 Sports shared a few more pointers for making informed draft predictions.
BJ Nix is a Cowboys content creator who hosts weekly Twitter Spaces. “I'm not a PFF guy,” he said, “but they do a good job of ranking prospects.”
According to Nix, Pro Football Focus has the best draft simulators. They do a thorough job of ranking prospects, and they list the positional needs of each team for each selection. Other features like having the ability to adjust settings and certain trade options make for an enjoyable user experience.
For those who may not have room in their schedule to monitor draft developments daily, Nix recommends joining the conversation at key moments during the offseason.
He pointed to: after the Senior Bowl (just passed), after the NFL Combine (February 28 – March 6), and after the free agency period ends (March 15). March 15 is also the day by which all NFL teams must be under the salary cap.
It's also a good idea, according to Nix, to pay attention to Pro Days as well as which players have visits, interviews, meetings, physical exams, workouts, or private dinners with the Cowboys. There are slightly different timelines for each type of interaction. Generally speaking, they can happen any time between March 7 and April 26.
A detailed list of important NFL dates is listed on the NFL Operations website.
Dominic White, who goes by Dom for short, is the head draft analyst for Pick 6 Sports. He says those new to draft talk should get acquainted with the rules of the draft. The NFL Operations website lists the components of the draft process and explanations for them.
For understanding compensatory picks and potential contracts for your picks, Dom recommends visiting the Over the Cap website.
He had a couple of other tips, too, but those will be saved for a follow-up to this post