Cowboys 1st & 10: 'Uncharted Territory' For Future Of NFL Draft
You can be forgiven as an NFL fan for keeping your eye on training camp and not on college football. But what’s happening in college football right now is worth tracking. We do that in Dallas Cowboys 1st and 10 ... the top 10 stories of the week ....
1. UNCHARTED FUTURE
As of Aug. 8 the NCAA Division II and Division III postseasons had been postponed. The majority of Division II and Division III conferences had either postponed or canceled fall football. Nearly half of FCS had done the same. UConn was the first Division I FBS program to postpone or cancel for the fall. The, on Aug. 8, the Mid-American Conference became the first FBS league to postpone football until the spring.
The dominoes keep falling and it’s getting harder and harder to see a pathway for college football this fall, except for perhaps the biggest schools who think they can play a conference-only schedule.
That would be a huge loss for those of us who love college football. But it would also present a huge challenge for the Dallas Cowboys and the NFL down the line. Why?
Imagine no college football game tape to break down from the 2020 season? That’s the prospect every scouting department may have to deal with.
During the ramp-up to the 2020 NFL Draft the league shut down all sponsored scouting activities after the Scouting Combine. Teams stopped going to pro days and interviews with players became a virtual experience. But, at least teams had 2019 game tape to lean on. In fact, it helped streamline the process for teams that already believed that “tape don’t lie.”
Now think about a scouting cycle where there is no recent tape to break down? Sure, you can go back and look at 2019 tape. It’s there. But it won’t show whether players have progressed from 2019 to 2020, which in some cases it exactly what scouts want to see once they’ve broken down tape on, say, a junior who is heading into his senior year.
There may not be any of that going into the 2021 NFL Draft. And if you don’t think that matters, look at the Cowboys roster. Thirty-one players on the training camp roster played for schools outside the Power 5 and Notre Dame. Sometimes game tape is the only way these players get noticed by teams like the Cowboys.
I’m not sure the Cowboys are any better equipped to handle this scenario than any other NFL team. Like just about everything in 2020, it’s uncharted territory.
But as the college football season contracts (and potentially gets postponed to the spring, which is another scenario entirely), it’s worth watching how the Cowboys try to deal with what seems the inevitable — a truly unique scouting experience, for better and for worse.
2. TIME TO GET A BUBBLE
The NBA and the NHL are playing in a ‘bubble’ and they’re not having any issues with the coronavirus or COVID-19 (at least not at the moment). Major League Baseball, meanwhile, opted for no bubble and they continue to have to postpone games due to coronavirus cases. Is the NFL taking notes?
I hope so. I wrote a piece earlier this week, an open letter to the Cowboys and the NFL, to work on getting a bubble in place. Impractical? Maybe. But do you want a fall without the NFL? A bubble may be the only way to make it work.
3. THIS WEEK AT TRAINING CAMP
This is a much different training camp than we’re used to, but we’re still getting plenty of stories coming out of The Star.
New Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy took to the mic for an extensive interview that included him calling quarterback Dak Prescott “upbeat and driven,” talking about the challenges of coaching a team in a COVID-19 world and what he loves about the mentality of this team.
McCarthy gave his first message to the team when training camp started, and the team released the video for all fans to view.
Amari Cooper had his turn with the media. Among the things he talked about was his offseason work habits, which included workout time with one Dak Prescott.
“In terms of the team, I feel like everybody has been training, everybody has been working hard in the offseason,” Cooper said. “And everybody is on an even playing field because all the teams are starting late, so whatever the situation is and whatever the circumstance is, I feel like we’re going to be ready. I know I’m going to be ready.”
He also broke down the development of rookie wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (and Cooper is impressed).
It was first labeled as a "stinger.'' Then it became a "herniated disk.'' And finally, in mid-January, Leighton Vander Esch underwent neck surgery to deal with "cervical spinal stenosis.''
And now, as Dallas Cowboys training camp trudges on inside The Star in Frisco?
4. COWBOYS BLITZCAST: A 'SOFT OPENING,' BUT 10 HARD CHALLENGES
We'll call this a "soft-opening'' to training camp. But that doesn't mean the questions — 10 of them — are anything but hard.
Welcome to the ‘The Blitzcast — A Dallas Cowboys Podcast by Drunk Sports in partnership with CowboysSI.com. “BigRed” Lance Dorsett and Timm “IndyCarTim” Hamm are your hosts as we discuss all things Dallas Cowboys and all things NFL. Special thanks to our sponsors, CowboysSI.com and The Maverick Bar at 1616 Hebron.
On this edition, Colby Sapp and Chris Bussell pitch in to discuss if Jamal Adams really was a good fit for the Cowboys, both on the field and financially, and since he’s not coming to Dallas, who might step up so we can forget he was ever an option.
Then, with the soft-opening to training camp, we’ll look at 10 specific concerns we have moving forward.
5. AMARI’S ‘3K’ MATH
It’s happened before, you know? A team with three 1,000-yard receivers in the same season. Here’s the list:
The 1980 San Diego Chargers (Kellen Winslow, John Jefferson and Charlie Joiner). The Chargers should get bonus points for doing it with a tight end.
The 1989 Washington Football Team (Art Monk, Ricky Sanders and Gary Clark). The latter day ‘The Fun Bunch.”
The 1995 Atlanta Falcons (Eric Metcalf, Terance Mathis and Bert Emanuel). June Jones, then the head coach, finally unleashed his vision for offense in the NFL.
The 2004 Indianapolis Colts (Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Brandon Stokley). You can do a lot when you have Peyton Manning.
The 2008 Arizona Cardinals (Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston). Any questions about why the Cards went to the Super Bowl that year?
Well, guess what? Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper wants to add the Cowboys to that list in 2020.
"The expectation,'' Cooper told the DFW media in a Tuesday conference call, "is to have three 1,000-yard receivers this year.”
Cooper believes that with him, Michael Gallup and rookie CeeDee Lamb, along with quarterback Dak Prescott, the Cowboys have the tools to do it.
As a side piece, our Richie Whitt broke down the impact Lamb could have on the 2020 season, the data on the three sets of wide receivers that accomplished the 3K feat (remember that Winslow was a tight end and Metcalf was a running back) and highlighted the best trios in Cowboys history.
And, just for information’s sake, Prescott threw for 4,902 yards last year and Whitt highlights the impact that had on last season’s receiving numbers.
Cowboys COO Stephen Jones is bullish on acquiring Lamb in the first round as well (of course, one would expect that).
And, just in case you’re wondering whether running back Ezekiel Elliott is worried about his touches, well he tweeted earlier this week that “We all gonna EAT.”
6. COVID-19 OPT-OUTS
The opt-out deadline for the coronavirus and COVID-19 came and went earlier this week. The Dallas Cowboys lost three players in the opt-out process — cornerback Maurice Canady, wide receiver Stephen Guidry and fullback Jamize Olawale. Here’s the complete list.
7. HOW'S RANDY?
Some Randy Gregory news hit this week and Gregory wasn’t happy with how the news was portrayed. So what did he do? He visited with our Mike Fisher to get his story out there, and then released a statement after that. Turns out, Gregory believes that COVID is playing a role in the delays of his reinstatement.
8. DAK’S GONNA MAKE THE COWBOYS PAY, SAYS MOOSE
Earlier this week former Cowboys fullback and current Fox broadcaster Daryl “Moose” Johnston talked with Colin Cowherd about a host of NFL and Cowboys issues. One of them concerned Dak Prescott, the Cowboys’ starting quarterback who will play under a $31 million franchise tender in 2020.
"You better believe you're a little bit frustrated and a little bit bitter. ... It’s really how you handle it and how respond to it,” Johnston said on FS1. "Dak has a lot of those (high) qualities and character values, so I see him embracing this and making the Cowboys pay for the fact that they franchise tagged him this season.”
In case you missed it, I did a series of articles about Prescott’s future in Dallas, the last of which noted that the Cowboys need to Prescott locked into a long-term deal as soon as they’re able, which is next offseason.
So when Johnston says he believes Prescott is going to make the Cowboys “pay,” you should hope that means the Cowboys are going to overpay to keep him.
9. CHEERLEADERS BUBBLE & COVID IN THE BOOTH
This week, our Richie Whitt talks with someone you likely don’t know — Ted Nichols-Payne. An engineer for live radio broadcasts at The Ticket and The Fan, he has one of the best seats in the house most nights, especially for Texas Rangers games. He also has COVID-19, as does Rangers broadcaster Matt Hicks. Whitt talked with Nichols-Payne about his struggle with the disease, and so much more in this week’s Whitt’s End.
10. TWEET OF THE WEEK
Get a College Football America Yearbook today and see what college football stars might be Cowboys in 2021.