Go for what suits you.
That's one of the first tasks of the staff that Garrett will lead, to find out the Xs and Os that fit his personnel the best and how he needs to use that line of thought for the Draft scouting and Free Agency acquisition.
But how is he supposed to do that?
One way is to look at your team's best players, see what they are best at and build around them. So, let's go that way:
Ware: Do you want one good reason for Garrett to keep the 3-4 as the main scheme? Ware is reason number 1, 2 and 3.
1 - Look at the Colts, they have 2 small DEs that are really good pass rushers, but they aren't consistent run defenders and their size is their big disadvantage. In one snap they may be too quick for the Tackle to handle and the play is stopped. In the next snap the same Tackle locks on them and drives him back away from the play. I've seen than happening with Ware (the Cowboys use a lot of 4 man fronts with Ware at one End), it doesn't happen much, but I don't want to see more of it.
2 - Ware takes advantage of the scheme. You know that he's better used as a rusher, and the most likely thing is that he's going to rush, but from where? Do you risk having the Tackle on his side to focus on him, even when he won't rush? Or not through him? How many times have you seen Ware abusing TEs and RBs one on one? I want to see more of that, Offensive Coordinators League wide would disagree.
3 - Ware is a perfect fit in the scheme. He can rush from the left and right side, can play in coverage and can stop the run.
Ratliff: The best word to describe him is explosive. He's perfectly suited to be a 1-technique (aligned in the shoulder of a Center) or 3-technique (aligned in the outside shoulder of a Guard) disrupting force. That's interesting, he can play as the nose in an attacking scheme and as a DT in a 4 man front. He's probably the main reason of why this team continues to use so many 4 man fronts and why they should continue.
Romo: Can take advantage of a moving pocket, improvise, gain more time and burn the DBs. Can look at his 1st, 2nd and 3rd option in a quick scan and recognize windows, even if they're small. Can also recognize soft spots that may be open with time.
Witten: Takes advantage of soft spots and has great chemistry with every QB on the roster.
Free: Versatile. Has LT feet in pass protection. Strong, can drive block. His pass protection feet are evident in blocks on the move and combos.
So, what can I tell from all this? That Ware and Ratliff make the 3-4 a good bet as the main scheme but lots of 4 man fronts are also possible, so look for players that are fits for both schemes (a 3-4 DE that can rush the passer may also be a fit as a 4 man front DE or DT).
And that the team may look for players in Free's mold for the OLine (he doesn't make you think Flozell, Colombo, Tuinei or Erik Williams), better athletes than strong guys, but strong enough to make plays as drive blockers. This kind fit the players around them better than the huge guys of previous generations. And that's because the current Cowboys should face a reality and I'll use a Parcelism:
You are what you are.
The Cowboys are what they do best and that's:
Area and Zone Blocks for the run: Look at Kyle Kosier, Leonard Davis is bigger and more powerful, but the better Guard has always been Kosier, because he does better what has become the bread and butter of the Cowboys running game, the combo blocks and blocks on the move required for most of the big plays that we have seen from Felix Jones and Choice. Free is also a really good blocker on the move. Colombo was named the Offense MVP in 2008 due to what he could do in the 2nd level and his pass protection. Gurode can move too, but he's more of a drive blocker.
Look for more of the same, athletes over power guys, Felix and Choice are the future at RB and they're good fits in an area blocking OLine, but don't go too far or you will have the 90s OLine of Detroit, one that could open lanes for huge gains by Sanders, but one that couldn't push Sanders for TDs in the red zone.
Versatility would be great.
A pocket that bends: That's another benefit of an athletes approach, it plays right to the strengths of Romo, he has the legs and vision to gain more time out of a pocket that seems to be collapsing and burn a Defense. Unfortunately, most of what we've seen of pockets collapsing it's the actual result of a collapse and a likely sack... Better athletes means combination blocks in pass protection, a Guard that loops to push an End wide (he adds an edge because a moving Guard has more inertia than a Tackle that just shoots from his stance) opening a lane for the QB to run through and gain more time. And that's just one example.
An attacking 3-4 isn't much if the DEs can't be disruptive: Teams know that they're in to play the run and teams go for the pass, the team then moves in the 4-man attacking front in pass rushing plays and teams run the ball if the distance goes from short to medium. DEs that can't attack make a 3-4 attacking scheme an easy to predict one. Look at the first game against the Eagles, Reid played with the Cowboys schemes, especially in the 4th Quarter, the Defense played exactly what he wanted to see. The same is true for the first half of the season with Wade, teams wanted to see the Cowboys blitz and it's clear that they knew when those blitzes would be coming.
Zone is a better fit: At his age, Newman is a better fit in a Zone scheme. Scandrick isn't a good press player because he lacks the instincts. And Jenkins needs a leash, he has the instincts, the aggressiveness, the speed and quick hips to be a really good press CB, but he gambles too much and paid dearly this season for it. Now, the team does need much better level of play from it's Safeties for the Zones to work and that's a big question mark, can you really replace 2 positions and expect better performance? Or the best bet is to see if Sensabaugh improves with better coaching and plays at the level in which he played in 2009? That way, you would only need to replace one safety and a 3 headed plan would be great, a competition between a Free Agent, a draft pick and AOA.
Beware of the red flags.
There are several kinds of red flags, they can be medical, of consistency, off the field and those that have to do with the attitude of the player regarding several things.
In this draft the medical red flag is highlighted by a First Round kind of prospect, Adrian Clayborn, the guy has a kind of palsy that weakens his right arm, the medical staffs of teams will be busy during the Combine and even if he tests well it's still likely that they will lower him a round or so.
The consistency flag is highlighted by Fairley, is he a one year wonder? Coming from 7 games with at least one sack, he showed that he's a dominating force from the middle, I would be more worried if he had accomplished those numbers in less games, dominating lower level competition. The same was true about Ware at it's due time. Consistency, even if it's in one year of great performance, is a big thing in the NFL.
Off the field problems would be highlighted by another of those West Virginia prospects... I dunno what's wrong with that College and all of the talented but problematic prospects coming from it... If you have a highly rated, but problematic prospect, lower him a round.
Not showing a good work ethic is an example of attitude. And if you see someone come up with the dreaded white gloves prospect in a Line be wary of him, that's a huge red flag, it tells you that the guy hasn't shown toughness, like playing through injuries (even if they're minor) or not showing a nasty side. An example would be Winston Justice, he has progressed nicely and has shown that he's a starting caliber prospect, but it took him more than 3 years and 1 Round as he had the physical skills of a 1st Round prospect but fell all the way to the 2nd Round.
Do you agree and feel the need to see if your Cowboys mock fits this criteria? If you don't agree, comment on it and let's discuss it.