At least some members of the Dallas Cowboys are practicing social distancing.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced millions of Americans adjust to remote working using teleconferencing software like FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Zoom, Skype, etc. and NFL teams are no exception.
A video was posted to the Cowboys’ official Instagram account this weekend showing owner Jerry Jones video conferencing with NFL Draft 2020 prospect Jalen Hurts.
“You’re better looking than Will, I’ve got the two of them up there, I see a before-and-after shot,” Jones joked of another member on the call while decked out head-to-toe in Cowboys gear.
Other members of the Cowboys’ coaching staff were present on the call including new head coach Mike McCarthy.
The video comes days after a social distancing faux pax surfaced showing Cowboys current quarterback Dak Prescott working out with out-of-work receiver Dez Bryant, among others.
“About the guys that I played with, one of my fears is letting them down,” Hurts told the Cowboys. “Not me messing up because that makes me look bad, me messing up because it could hurt the team.”
The post’s caption ended with the hashtag, “#StayHomeStayStrong”
The brief glimpse at the remote scouting process is a preview of how the 2020 NFL Draft will take place. The typically grandiose event set to take place on April 23 to 25 has been scaled down to a fully remotely televised ordeal.
It comes as a bit of a surprise that the Cowboys chose to post this particular clip in light of the fact that they already have a franchise QB. Earlier this offseason, the team exercised the exclusive franchise tag on 26-year-old Prescott worth $26.8 million. The two parties are actively negotiating a longer-term contract and have until July 15 to agree on a deal.
Most likely Jones and McCarthy are merely doing their due diligence by considering a late-round understudy for depth or insurance. It could also be an intentional message to Prescott, who is a prime example of how a later-round (fourth) quarterback could turn a franchise around at a low cost.
Hurts, 21, played three years under Nick Saban at Alabama before transferring to Oklahoma for his senior year. He was the Heisman Trophy runner-up in 2019 behind LSU’s Joe Burrow, amassing 3,851 passing yards, 32 passing touchdowns and a 69.7 completion percentage.
Hurts is a serious ground threat and tallied 1,298 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns last year. He recorded the second-fastest 40-yard dash among quarterbacks at the combine in February with a time of 4.59 seconds (behind Cole McDonald of Hawaii, 4.58 seconds).
The 6-foot-1, 222-pound Sooner has unquestionable talent and physical ability, but his pocket protection and decision-making has been less consistent at times. Still, he has drawn lofty comparisons to Prescott and Saints utility player Taysom Hill.
“People say there are things [Hurts] needs to tweak, and he holds the ball,” ESPN’s NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper said. “Bottom line is this kid produced and he is a great kid. He can go back to two big-time schools and be revered because of what he’s meant to those programs.”
Kiper projects he will be a “late-second or third rounder.”
“I don’t think he gets to day three. I think in the third round, somebody jumps at this guy with his intangibles through the roof. You run under 4.6. You saw the rushing touchdowns, he had 23 at Alabama, 20 this year at Oklahoma,” Kiper said. “He’s a dual-threat, great kid. You can use him like Taysom Hill. You would get significant contributions from him as a rookie. You can’t say that about some of these other quarterbacks.”