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Cowboys scouts are the real MVP of the draft as they exhibit great trust in their “we-think” board

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Inside the thought process of the Cowboys decisions on draft day reveals an overwhelming trust of their process.

NFL: NFL Draft Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

It’s always a fun time when your team gets a bunch of new players to cheer for. We love new things. It’s even more enjoyable when that list of players seems to just go on for days. The Dallas Cowboys started the draft strong and never let their foot off the gas as great pick after great pick was the consensus last weekend. It is hard remembering a time where there were this few head-scratching moments as the team kept collecting talent from this draft class.

There’s a lot of credit to go around for this one. Let’s start at the top, Jerry Jones floated along the coast in his mega yacht for the duration of these festivities. It’s fun to think about him just meandering out on the ocean without any Wi-Fi connection and having very little input on this draft. Surely, that’s not the case, but whatever all-mighty final say Jerry did have, he did a wonderful job trusting the experts he’s paying to make those quality picks.

This is Mike McCarthy’s first draft with the Cowboys. We have been told he’s a hands-off guy when it comes to player personnel decisions, but all the coaches provide insight on players that are taken into consideration before final the selections are made. And while some details have yet to come out, you can still sorta sense McCarthy’s influence from some of the choices that were made.

But the real heroes are Will McClay and the Cowboys scouting department. Executive vice president Stephen Jones calls McClay the MVP of the team’s draft, but McClay is quick to give credit to the team’s scouts.

“The MVP of the draft is the scouts, to me,” McClay said. “It’s a thankless job to go out and do that. We have an all-inclusive process that allows typically the scouts are in the meeting. They get to express their feelings about a player and do all that and that’s the way we’ve typically done that. Because of the conditions [virtual draft], we weren’t able to do that. They gave me and the college management staff all the information and trusted us to get that information to ownership. Ownership took that information, the coaches listened to all that.”

We wouldn’t expect anything less from McClay.

The Cowboys earned a lot of praise for this draft because of the continuous great value they received round after round.

  • CeeDee Lamb was no. 6 on their board, and they got him at pick 17
  • Trevon Diggs had a high second-round grade on him, and they got him at pick 51
  • Neville Gallimore had a second-round grade on him, and they got him at pick 82
  • Tyler Biadasz had a high third-round grade on him, and they got him at pick 146

And the great picks kept coming as McClay’s own personal “pet cat” Reggie Robinson was selected in the fourth round, and his size and traits make him an appealing project guy that could eventually be a fixture in the Cowboys cornerback group. And how edge rusher Bradlee Anae was still available at pick at 179 is a mystery.

Lamb and Diggs should be day one starters who both have All-Pro upside. Gallimore may be every bit as good as Maliek Collins and could offer the same amount of starting ability as the team’s former defensive tackle. While there’s a good amount of competition for the center position, it’s not inconceivable to think Biadasz doesn’t take over the job at some point. And who knows what Robinson and Anae’s potential offers as they could have meaningful roles down the road. It’s certainly way too premature to be making any real projections about the careers of these rookies, but we can’t help being excited about the possibilities.

This new class has a lot of work ahead of them if they are going to compare to the 2016 draft class. On paper, they look fantastic, and McClay is quick to acknowledge that there are no guarantees, but that doesn’t undermine the huge amount of trust he has in his guys.

“There are some times that you go, ‘Maybe we didn’t get this guy right,’ but then you go back and you trust it,” McClay said. “The thing you saw in this draft, when everybody doesn’t have all of the information and the extra road talk and all these other things, and then the media and everybody else doesn’t really know ... that kind of sets a we-think kind of a board. And what happens is when you’re all together, there’s more of an us-think board compared to what everybody else does. There was more concentration on what we value most, what we knew.”

What the Cowboys value sure aligned nicely with what a lot of their fans value as this was one of the more well-received drafts we can remember in quite some time. McClay and Co. might be on to something and let’s hope we see more of the same from future drafts.