A very interesting article from Alex Marvez of FoxSports describes a new approach the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff took when they headed up the North squad at the Senior Bowl. Jason Garrett and company decided against handing out scaled-down playbooks to their players, instead opting to hand them a blank notebook and asking them to take notes. For some players this wasn't a problem, but for others a little bit of a panic set in.
"Their whole evaluation for us was, ‘How well can this guy take notes?'" [Stanford linebacker Blake] Martinez said. "They didn't give us a playbook. They basically explained it on the board. They expected us to write down good enough notes to go back to our rooms, study, and have the diligence to step on the field the next day and perform at the high level they wanted."
This is tangible evidence of something the Cowboys must be looking for in the 2016 draft. Guys who are intelligent and can be proactive in taking their own game to new levels. The players at the Senior Bowl have been given playbooks for most of their serious football life, to ask them to suddenly do it another way, a way were you really need to rely on your own wits, is a tough task. Not to mention you have to go out and play a game at the end of the week that could affect your draft stock. That's pressure.
For the aforementioned Blake Martinez, it wasn't an issue. He had been keeping a notebook like that throughout college. But for other guys it took a while to get their footing.
"I feel like it was one of those things where a lot of guys maybe at the beginning struggled but as the week went on they learned or looked at other guys to see how it's done and what they needed to do. That kind of showed a type of player, a professional player, from that standpoint -- finding a way to get that done whether it's a weakness or strength."
The Cowboys have certainly had some issues with draft picks making questionable decisions lately. Joseph Randle and Randy Gregory come to mind. They may be using this as a tool to get better reads on some players, to see if the pressure might end up being too much for them, or if they don't have the seriousness to dedicate themselves to being a professional at the NFL level. More likely though, this is just something Jason Garrett or his staff thought up independent of previous draft pick's behaviors and thought it would help with evaluations.
On one hand, it's a good tool for the Cowboys to see about smart, self-motivated players. On the other hand, it might not have been fair to some of the players who were trying to raise their stock in the draft by showing what they can do on the field. Whether they had never taken these type of notes before, or just don't learn well without a playbook, they might not have felt so good about it. I'm sure there were a few players who weren't thrilled with the approach.
What do you think BTB? Good move or not by Dallas?