It is a lot of fun to work up mock drafts and boards. It must be, because so many people do them.
But it isn't the mocks that matter. It is the board that each NFL team puts together. A team's future is largely dependent on how well it evaluates the available talent, and then how effectively it uses that evaluation. Do a poor job, and you wind up with the Dallas draft of 2009. Do a good job, and you get players like Sean Lee, Tyron Smith and DeMarco Murray.
One of the things that Jason Garrett has done is expand the scouting department for the Cowboys. There is a good deal of evidence that his predecessor, Wade Phillips, would see video of a prospect and, for lack of a better description, fall in love with the guy and overvalue him. JG5000 predictably wants a much more rigorous and analytical approach, given the stint his father Jim Garrett had as a scout with the Cowboys from 1987 to 2004.
Most of us know that Tom Ciskowski is the head of the Dallas Scouting Department. I wanted to find out more.
The first thing I discovered is that this is not easy to get to. As it was described to me, Garrett has become very secretive about how the whole scouting process works. I don't know, maybe it was partly due to some photos of the 2010 board that got some exposure on the web before he got the Head Coaching job. But I was able to come up with a few things.
See what I found out after the jump
These are the names and positions of the Cowboys' scouting department (got a peek, so to speak, at someone's phone for this).
Tom Ciskowski, Director of College and Pro Scouting
Chris Hall, College Scouting Coordinator
Drew Fabianich, National College Scout
Walter Juliff, National College Scout
Bill Dekraker, Midwest Area Scout
Sam Garza, West Coast Scout
Mitch LaPoint, Southeast Area Scout
John Wojciechowski, Northeast Area Scout
Judd Garrett, Assistant Director of Pro Scouting
Will McClay, Pro Scout/Director of Football Research
Jim Dodson, Pro Scouting Assistant
If you want to check some bios on these guys, the Dallas Morning News had an article covering some of them last year, but it only focuses on the college scouts.
The Dallas Cowboys Media Guide lists some additional names that are associated with the Scouting Department (thanks to the omniscient OCC for the additional info):
Todd Williams, Director of Football Administration
Connie Shaffer, Contract Administrator
Adam Prasifka, Player Personnel
George Jordan, Scout
Kevin Simon, Combine Scout
Rich Behm, Scouting Assistant
Alex Loomis, Pro Scouting Assistant
Justin Stuckey, College Scouting Assistant
The Guide no longer mentions Jim Dodson, so he may have been replaced by Loomis.
These are the known full time employees the Cowboys use for scouting. The list may not be totally complete, but this is very similar in scope to another team known for its success in scouting. One thing I was a little surprised to notice was that the team has separate staffs for college and pro scouting. Jason's brother Judd is in charge of pro scouting, which I would imagine is concerned with identifying possible free agent acquisitions and trade targets. Undoubtedly, these guys are working at a fever pitch right now.
What this also does not reveal is how many contract scouts are used. I was able to get some numbers on another team, and they hire thirteen outside people to come in and take a look at the draft prospects.
While I don't have the number of outside scouts hired by Dallas, they do use them. The outside scouts can serve as specialists who focus on certain positions, or they can fulfill an outside audit function to double check on the conclusions of the in-house staff.
One title that was intriguing to me is the second one next to Will McClay's name. He is listed as the Director of Football Research. Again, projecting from what is done on other teams, he may be the Moneyball guy, evaluating key statistics to find future acquisitions that are undervalued or misused on other NFL teams. It is likely he has a sub staff of mathematicians or statistical analysts to assist in this.
The big thing is that Dallas' draft board is not put together by Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett sitting down and throwing names out. It is researched by the staff listed above, with inputs from the coaching staff to help identify what players are best suited for the schemes Dallas runs. Jerry Jones is putting some pretty serious payroll into this effort, and that would give us hope that he is going to pay very close attention to what they tell him when the time comes to send those names up at the NFL Draft. At this time of year, these are some of the most important members of the organization.
We here at BTB are always interested in everything we can find out about the Cowboys' board, and apparently a lot of people check us out, so I thought you might like to see the scope of the effort the team puts into building it every year, and just who the draft order comes from.