On the heels of the NFL announcing that there will be a change to the NFL Combine format this season, teams are going to be in for another year of guessing and trusting the tape on players like they did for the 2020 NFL Draft. This season, though, they will also have to deal with new challenges such as on-field workouts being conducted at pro days only, medical exams will be virtual while team doctors travel to the prospects campus for an in person physical, and interviews involving the prospects and team officials can only be conducted virtually. That’s a tall task for a lot of teams with new head coaches, general managers and coordinators who like to meet face-to-face, and see how prospects move in live action.
But team personnel can’t be every where at once which is where trust in their scouting department comes in, and lately, the Cowboys staff has been one of the best in the league at finding players that can contribute early in the draft. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and president of player personnel Stephen Jones have placed a lot of faith in their vice president of player personnel Will McClay and their scouting department. Faith which has been rewarded with with young talent through the draft, and sometimes in (undrafted) free agency. They are doing it again this season as they are not sending the Cowboys coaching staff to the Senior Bowl, instead leaving that to the scouts and McClay.
The Cowboys did a pretty good job in the draft last season even with all the issues around the pandemic. The scouts identified players, the team was patient in their drafting, and ended up with Trevon Diggs in the second round, and Tyler Biadasz in the fourth, both considered value picks. They also picked up Aldon Smith and Greg Zeurlein in free agency.
They aren’t perfect, though, as they missed on players like Dontari Poe and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in free agency, among others; signing free agents from the pool of current NFL players has been an issue. This year, a year into Mike McCarthy’s system and culture, they will have a better idea of what they are looking for, and will hopefully continue to perform well in the draft while upping their game in free agency.
Things will also be a bit easier for the Cowboys thanks to drafting in the top 10 this season; we all know the earlier the pick the better chance you have of finding talent. So they have a very good chance to bring in talent that can come in and contribute to a team that was ravaged by injuries last season, but already has a talented roster on paper. We will see how things go over the next few months but in the meantime just remember this: In Will McClay, We Trust.