The Dallas Cowboys raised eyebrows over the weekend when the team's official Instagram account released footage from the team's virtual visit with former Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Jalen Hurts.
The move was puzzling because the 2019 Heisman Trophy runner-up is slated to go in the second or third round of the 2020 NFL Draft. That would mean that the Cowboys could use one of their top-100 picks (51st or 82nd overall) on a backup quarterback.
Even though the Cowboys haven't reached a contract extension with starter Dak Prescott, the expectation is at worst he signs the tender to play ball for 2020 and then the two sides work out a contract extension once the season ends.
So, the Cowboys are using a top-100 pick to replace Cooper Rush at backup quarterback? Such a move would appear egregious when they need to fill holes at cornerback, safety, and along the defensive line. An early selection for a backup QB seems like a recipe for wasting draft capital that will catch up to them in the next two to three years.
The Cowboys could be using the publicizing of the visit to communicate to Prescott that they are willing to find his replacement if he isn't willing to sign a long-term deal with Dallas. After all, the Cowboys hastily elevated Prescott to succeed Tony Romo after the 2016 season when Dallas went 13-3 behind the rookie fourth-rounder from Mississippi State.
What's to say the Cowboys don't think they can have such fortune four years later?
One often overlooked element of the draft process is that teams build profiles on the prospects that are later converted into pro personnel files. The Cowboys did exactly this when they traded with the Oakland Raiders in 2018 for Amari Cooper.
Even though the Cowboys had the 27th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, and even though Cooper went No. 4 overall that year, Dallas still conducted its due diligence on the Alabama receiver in the ramp-up to the 2015 draft so that if the opportunity ever came to acquire him, they would have relevant materials to go off of.
In fact, former Arkansas Razorbacks defensive lineman McTelvin Agim said at his pro day on March 11 that the teams who show interest typically aren't that interested.
"I’ve talked to all of the guys who have come before me and they tell me the people that talk to you the most are probably not even going to be the people who draft you," Agim said. "It’s going to be the person in the back just sitting low-key."
That will probably end up being the same with Hurts. Dallas probably won't take him, but an opportunity could arise where they have to consider him for their quarterback room down the road. Better yet, the opportunity may arise where Hurts is the answer at quarterback for one of the Cowboys' division rivals.
Another realistic use of Hurts in Dallas would be in the Taysom Hill utility role that the former BYU Cougars QB plays for the New Orleans Saints. Both Hurts and Hill stand at 6’2” and there is only a four-pound difference between the two with Hurts weighing more at 225. Even though it was a critically panned question Hurts was asked at the combine if he would be willing to switch to receiver.
Of course, the former Oklahoma product sees himself as a quarterback, but what if he could bring a Hill-like facet to the Cowboys' offense? Hurts could be an integral part of the offense and draw interest in free agency to pick where he goes on his second contract, rather than having to go to a bottom-tier team as a QB where he’d hope that he doesn't get hurt if he isn’t regulated to holding a clipboard as a backup.
More than likely, the reason the Cowboys released portions of their interview with Hurts was the same reason owner Jerry Jones knocked the patina off the Blue Star and turned it into a multi-billion dollar franchise: it got Dallas in the headlines.
Do you think the virtual meeting with Jalen Hurts was subterfuge by the Cowboys or should they actually be interested in the 2019 Heisman runner-up QB? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.