IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys' coaching staff won't be on hand to witness it, but they won't need any reminding of the importance of next week's Senior Bowl.
This time last year, when Cowboys executives and coaches reported to Mobile, Ala., for the college all-star game, Zack Martin was one of the marquee seniors in attendance. A long-time starter at left tackle, Martin shined as a guard during Senior Bowl practices.
Of all the offensive linemen to square off against highly-coveted defensive tackle Aaron Donald, Martin perhaps fared the best.
The rest doesn't need to be recounted. The Cowboys took Martin No. 16 overall in last May's draft. He started from the get-go and earned Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors as a rookie.
"My memories of him come from watching tape and being so impressed by him," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "When we watched his tape, I know how good of a player he was – just all through the process, whether the time at Indianapolis or when he came down here, he just was one of those guys for everybody that was just a consensus player."
It's hard to predict the presence of a future All-Pro, but there will be no shortage of prospects for the Cowboys to consider. As team that needs help upgrading the pass rush, the Cowboys will be sure to look at defensive linemen like Ohio State's Michael Bennett, Missouri's Markus Golden, UCLA's Owamagbe Odighizuwa and others.
There will also be no shortage of cornerbacks to consider, and a few highly-regarded running backs like Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah and Minnesota's David Cobb – should a need arise.
Garrett and his coaches will be in Glendale, Ariz., coaching the Pro Bowl while this year's crop of seniors report to Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile. Without them in attendance, the task falls to the Cowboys' personnel department to begin the scouting and interviewing process.
"We'll be able to get that film and obviously we'll be able to get the film of the game," Garrett said. "Then, our scouts and other people who were down there will start that interview process with some of these guys. But we'll continue really throughout the spring."
When the Senior Bowl kicks off on Tuesday, the 2015 NFL Draft will be just 100 days away. The season isn't yet a week old, but the Cowboys' process of identifying their next batch of selections has already begun.