No Meeting, No Mario?

IRVING, Texas – If you're waiting for the Dallas Cowboys to use the 22nd overall pick on Mario Manningham, you might be left waiting.

Because from what I hear, that's exactly what the Michigan wide receiver did to Cowboys executives when they had a scheduled meeting at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis – left ‘em waiting.

Because Cowboys officials aren't commenting on the record on my nugget of information, I'm going to frame it as gossip. But I can tell you that the Cowboys are not enamored with the player. And I can suggest to you that the way I understand it, Manningham left Dallas representatives at the meeting-room altar last month, failing to show up and therefore placing a black mark on the resume of the first-round-caliber talent.

From what I can gather, the acrobatic Manningham – a 6-0, 187-pound dynamo who last year in his junior season caught 72 passes for 1,174 yards and 12 touchdowns – busied himself socially during his time in Indy. A ladies' man, you might say. (I told you this was gossipy.) He also busied himself by underperforming when running the 40. Manningham clocked just a 4.59, far too slow for a smallish pass-catcher.

There might be some good news for Manningham: The Detroit Free Press reports that he recorded a 4.39 in last week's Michican Pro Day, and that he also elevated his vertical leap from 32 to 35 inches. The respected Matt Mosely of ESPN Hashmarks suggests that the new 40 time is causing him to "definitely be on the rise again.''

He may be rising on some charts. But probably not on the Cowboys'.

Now, how important is missing a meeting, or even showing up but being unimpressed in one? Maybe a guy got a flat tire! Or the dog ate his homework!

On the one hand, the Cowboys were present at Michigan's Pro Day, studying assorted Wolverines, presumably of course including one Mario Cashmere Manningham. On the other hand, despite the mock drafts that connect Manningham with Dallas, there is no evidence that Manningham is on the long list of prospects who are being brought to Valley Ranch for a tour.

I'm reminded of the story I heard when draft prospect Randy Moss went to meet with the Chicago Bears. Team president Mike McCaskey himself was in the hotel restaurant for the scheduled breakfast, sitting at the table. … waiting. … waiting. Finally, McCaskey called Moss' room, and the kid sounded irritated to have his sleep interrupted. Moss eventually came downstairs, quite late, was dressed inappropriately for a job interview, and was generally disrespectful to his prospective employer.

And the Bears never considered drafting Moss, seeing him as lacking in the areas of accountability and responsibility and maturity.

My bet is that the Cowboys, while willing to roll the personnel dice in some areas, do not wish to do so with their two first-round picks in the NFL Draft. So, assuming they value accountability, responsibility and maturity, Mario Manningham – who didn't show up for a job interview with the Cowboys – is unlikely to end up with a job with the Cowboys.

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