FRISCO, Texas – Another sign of normalcy is in the works at The Star this week.
Starting Monday, the team is kicking its draft process into high gear with the first of its official Top 30 visits coming to the building. For the uninitiated, the NFL allows its members to host up to 30 draft prospects from each year's class to their facility to interview.
This year marks the first time those interview will happen in person, as the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020 forced the process to go virtual for two years. This will be the first time NFL clubs have physically hosted potential draft picks since 2019.
The Cowboys tend to invite players from all over the draft board to their facility for further evaluation, but each group includes some heavy hitters. That's no different in 2022, as big-time names like receivers Treylon Burks and Chris Olave, as well as offensive guards Kenyon Green and Zion Johnson are expected to visit this week. Top-tier defenders like defensive tackle Jordan Davis are on the visit list, as well.
Those types of names are important, because recent history indicates a high likelihood that the Cowboys' eventual first-round pick will be a guy they brought on a Top 30 visit.
Going back to 2014, when executive vice president of player personnel Will McClay took charge of the draft process, Zack Martin, Byron Jones, Ezekiel Elliott, Taco Charlton and Leighton Vander Esch were all Top 30 visits. The team didn't have a first-round pick in 2019, but Trysten Hill – their first pick in that year's draft – was a visitor.
CeeDee Lamb, whose fall to the No. 17 pick in 2020 shocked the NFL draft community, is a rare exception of an eventual first-round pick who wasn't linked to the Cowboys prior to being selected.
Of course, the Lamb pick is a reminder that anything can happen. The Cowboys also caught people off guard in 2012, when they traded up from No. 14 to No. 6 overall to select Morris Claiborne. There are no guarantees in the draft.
Still, Top 30 visits are an important piece of the Cowboys' puzzle. And starting Monday, the puzzle is starting to take shape.