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Cowboys pull from the MLB for their latest analytics hire

If you’re getting the feeling Dallas is hiring a lot of analytics people recently, you would be right.

NFL: DEC 04 Colts at Cowboys Photo by Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Cowboys are really starting to build something this offseason. Just this week, they added William Britt from the Steelers as a Strategic Football Analyst and Max Lyons as their new Football Data Engineer. Make it one more, as the Cowboys on Friday added Bryant Davis as yet another Strategic Football Analyst.

Davis might be the most intriguing hire of them all, because he joins the Cowboys from the Tampa Bay Rays of the MLB. Davis has spent the past four seasons working with the Rays as a research and development analyst.

While analytics are much more common around MLB than in the NFL, the Rays have been one of the most analytically inclined teams in baseball for quite some time; their current VP of Baseball Operations started out working at analytics heavyweight Baseball Info Solutions (now known as Sports Info Solutions) before the Rays snapped him up.

The Rays have also enjoyed plenty of success since embracing analytics, even being dubbed the new Moneyball. Tampa Bay has won at least 90 games in three of their past four full seasons, and they reached the World Series in the COVID-shortened 2020 season. They also currently boast the best record in the American League and were the last team to lose a game at the start of this season.

Davis has been part of that process for quite some time now. He first joined the team as an R&D intern during the 2019 season and was then hired on full time following that season. During his internship, Davis was also attending the University of Florida for his Ph.D. in statistics. Prior to that, Davis had attended Wake Forest and earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree, both in mathematics.

Davis is not the first analytics staffer to jump from baseball to football. Paul DePodesta, the architect of the original Moneyball scheme with the Athletics (and upon whom Jonah Hill’s character in the movie is based), had stints with five different MLB teams before jumping to the Browns as their Chief Strategy Officer. In that role, DePodesta has turned Cleveland into one of the most analytics-friendly teams in the NFL.

Don’t expect that from Davis, as he’s just one of three Strategic Football Analysts the Cowboys have hired this summer alongside Britt and Sarah Mallepalle. But Davis is certainly going to be part of an analytics department in Dallas that has expanded quite rapidly this summer. While Britt and Mallepalle, as well as Director of Strategic Football Operations John Park, came from analytics roles with other NFL teams, Davis brings a unique perspective coming from baseball that is sure to add some diversity of thought to the department.

With Davis on board, the Cowboys now have six members in their analytics department, as well as three coaches with analytics responsibilities. Only five NFL teams had six or more full-time analytics staffers during the 2022 season, putting into perspective just how much the Cowboys have grown in the last two months. There is no question that the Cowboys have one of the larger analytics departments in the league now, but time will tell how much head coach Mike McCarthy - a self-described believer in the practice - actually relies on them.

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