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Cowboys add to analytics department by hiring Sarah Mallepalle from Ravens

The Cowboys are beefing up their analytics department.

NFL: DEC 24 Eagles at Cowboys Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Cowboys are getting very serious about their analytics department heading into Mike McCarthy's fourth season as the head coach. A couple of weeks ago they hired John Park, a rising star in the football analytics community, away from the Colts as their Director of Strategic Football Operations. Now, they’re adding another prominent analytics staffer in Sarah Mallepalle.

Mallepalle joins the Cowboys with the title of Strategic Football Analyst, which would seemingly make her the second-in-command under Park in the Cowboys’ football analytics department.

Mallepalle comes over from the Ravens, where she has been a Player Personnel Analyst for the past four seasons. She was one of a handful of analytics staffers hired in Baltimore after the 2018 season, as the organization sought a revamping of sorts that made them one of the most analytically-inclined franchises in football. Since then, the Ravens have gone 43-23 with three postseason trips, in addition to fueling a furious debate over the role of analytics in football decision-making.

While Mallepalle was not the one in charge of the Ravens’ analytics department during that time, she was a key cog in the machine that created one of the NFL’s most efficient teams over the last four years. She assisted with analytics research in a variety of areas, including game planning and draft preparation. General Manager Eric DeCosta singled her out for undertaking a project in determining the best receiver prospect fits for the team ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Mallepalle joined the Ravens right after graduating from Carnegie Mellon, and having interned with the Philadelphia Phillies her senior year. Over the four years, she has become a key resource for the Ravens, a model of modern day football processes.

This addition signifies a meaningful commitment from the Cowboys in building out their analytics department, something McCarthy had talked about shortly after his hiring. Park replaced Tom Robinson, who had run the team’s analytics department since 2010 but parted ways with Dallas prior to this year’s draft. As a rising star in the analytics community, Park’s hiring offered a feeling of a more modern approach to integrating analytics into the football decision making, but it wasn’t immediately clear how much the department would actually expand.

By bringing in someone of Mallepalle’s reputation, this sends a clear message that the team is getting serious about having a football analytics arm that goes beyond the coaches on the staff who have analytics backgrounds. The Cowboys may not be going as all-in on analytics as the Ravens did four years ago when they first hired Mallepalle, but this is still a sizable shift for the organization as they look to break their long-lasting streak of early playoff exits.

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