NFL Draft: Is Cowboys Jalen Hurts Meeting A 'Message To Dak'?
FRISCO - We probably shouldn't call them "virtual meetings'' anymore, as the use of Zoom and Skype and the technological like is how we all meet nowadays. So it is with the Dallas Cowboys and their preparation for the 2020 NFL Draft.
The Cowboys traditionally do something else with technology, too, via DallasCowboys.com: They utilize the team website's tools and talents to showcase "America's Team,'' to offer Cowboys Nation a glance inside The Star.
The latest example: Video access (via Instagram) to the recent "meeting'' with draft prospect Jalen Hurts, the Oklahoma quarterback.
The clip made available is our first hint as to what's really going on here. It is a legitimate examination of Dallas' deep dives into player research, including one-on-ones with the prospects? Certainly.
But it is customary for owner Jerry Jones to be the point man in interviews with late-third-round prospects (that's where our respected buddy Dane Brugler slots Hurts in a recent NFL Mock Draft)?
No. That is not automatically customary. That is somewhat "made-for-TV,'' though Jones has over the years, according to a team source, "often spent 20 minutes talking with the kid,'' largely so Jerry can put a face with the name, should the prospect be drafted here.
Does this mean Dallas is automatically selecting Hurts in the third round (or whenever)? The Cowboys, under Jerry, really do love dropping Easter Egg hints as to their draft intentions for the benefit of the media. But ... no. It's been misreported that this Hurts video represents Dallas "first (virtual) visit'' with a prospect; that is far, far from true. He's not a "priority'' in that sense. He's just "the first one'' they've put on Instagram.
They are certainly investigating Hurts, as they are hundreds of other prospects. (Because of the COVID-19 shutdown, there is no "30 Visits'' limit this year.) And why not? Hurts experienced a stellar career in college, first winning SEC Offensive Player of the Year as a freshman for Alabama and later finishing second in the Heisman voting after transferring to Oklahoma.
His talents have drawn comparisons (for better or worse) to Tim Tebow ... and to Dak Prescott himself. Bucky Brooks, the former NFL scout who now contributes to the Cowboys’ website, cites the similarities between Hurts and Prescott, who is of course in the middle of contract negotiations with Dallas while presently dealing with the franchise tag.
Make sure you don't "over-draft'' Hurts and assign him a role as Dak's backup? If you believe in him as a prospect, that's a viable plan. Draft him based on the notion that he's going to become "Dak 2.0'' ... so you let Dak play under the tag this year and then say goodbye to him in 2021 while handing the job to Hurts? That's a stretch.
Create all of this - the interview, Jerry's presence, the dotcom cameras - as a way to, as some have suggested, "send a message'' to Prescott?
At the risk of "burying the lead,'' because I can factually report that Jerry Jones spend a lot of Sunday and Monday nights last season watching Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson and pondering, "How can we do that?'' ...
Hurts is a developmental prospect, not a threat. Prescott is this team's "franchise player,'' and he's been told that by the Joneses, in words and in actions - those actions being an offer sitting on the negotiating table that (in the range of $35 million APY and more than $106 million guaranteed) can make him the highest-paid player in NFL history. CAA agent Todd France is not, as you read this, hurriedly reacting to an Instagram video about a decent draft candidate by offering to sign a lesser Dak deal due to some "fear'' of Hurts.
Maybe this represents the best video the dotcom guys shot; maybe it's the one with the funniest Jerry quip. But the part of the Jalen Hurts interview that is "for show'' is meant to bring attention to "the brand.''
And Dak Prescott need not pay it any attention, given the fact that he's already the "centerpiece'' of that very brand.