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The Cowboys Are Doing Their Homework On 2018 Wide Receiver Class

INDIANAPOLIS –Whatever their plans might be for Dez Bryant, the Cowboys aren't ready to say. That much has been established during a long week at the NFL Combine.

If uncertainty surrounds their veteran wide out, though, there's no doubt that they're looking at this upcoming crop of talent.

The wide receivers of this year's draft class took center stage on Friday, as they began their sequence of Combine workouts and media interviews. In speaking with them, it became clear that the Cowboys intend to get to know them, as well.

Take a look around the cream of this year's draft crop, and it's obvious. Alabama's Calvin Ridley and Maryland's D.J. Moore – two of this year's top prospects – both confirmed they had Friday night meetings scheduled with Dallas.

Add Texas A&M standout Christian Kirk to that list, as well. The 5-11, primarily slot receiver said he has met informally with the Cowboys' coaches.

There's also Oklahoma State's James Washington and SMU's Courtland Sutton, both local prospects who are bound to have contact with the Cowboys at one point or another. In some cases, that could even be a fulfillment of a lifelong wish.

"That would be amazing," Sutton said. "I grew up a Cowboys fan. Me and my dad, huge Cowboys fans."

Whatever their backgrounds, it's not surprising the Cowboys are investigating receivers. For all the other needs on this roster, wide receiver just might be their most-discussed problem spot.

Bryant suffered through the most disappointing season of his career, finishing with just 69 catches and dealing with drops. Terrance Williams failed to score a touchdown for the first time in his five-year career. Cole Beasley saw his involvement in the offense.

The result is a loud conversation about the need for weapons on offense – and there's no shortage of options.

Ridley is the name that tends to come first, as Florida native is widely considered the best receiver in this draft class. For his part, Ridley agrees with that assessment, and he wasn't shy about showcasing his confidence on Friday.

"I feel like whoever chooses me, I'm starting on that team," he said. "I'm not trying to sound bold or anything, I want to be the humble guy. But I feel like whoever chooses me, I'm coming in and starting, playing right away."

If he's as good as he thinks he is, Ridley might not even make it to the Cowboys at pick No. 19. That's where the rest of these prospects come into play, and they cross the spectrum.

There's Moore, who measured in at 6-0 during his weigh in – roughly two inches taller than many expected.

"When people see me outside of pads, they'll be like 'Wow, you're really taller than what you play at,'" he said.

Then there's the bigger guys. There's 6-3 LSU receiver D.J. Chark, who said he met informally with Dallas receivers coach Sanjay Lal. And there's Sutton, who represents another freakish athlete in the same mold as Bryant, checking in at 6-4, 216 pounds.

"There's a lot of benefits to being that guy. I try to make sure I'm maximizing that," Sutton said.


This whole conversation raises the question of what exactly the Cowboys might be looking for. If Bryant's status is up in the air, then perhaps they're looking for another downfield threat. Or, with Cole Beasley entering into a contract year, might they be looking for a weapon in the slot?

In a lot of these cases, they might be drafting two players in one.

"Within the Memphis offense, I moved all over the place," said Anthony Miller. "I played outside, slot. I even got handed the ball a couple times. So they know that. They know I'm capable of being outside or inside."

In some cases, it's more of a projection. Kirk worked primarily in the slot while at Texas A&M, but he was beyond confident he can play outside in the NFL.

"That's definitely some of the questions in my formal interviews – if I can do it. And I know 100 percent I can do it," he said.

It's a lot to consider, about a lot of different players. And as it stands in early March, it's hard to figure out what it all means. But it certainly seems evident that the Cowboys are doing their due diligence on some downfield draft prospects.

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