Cowboys hope for power of pods

IRVING, Texas -- Oftentimes in the draft-evaluation process there can be a disconnect between a coach and a scout.

A coach has a feel for what specifics he wants in a player. A scout looks at the overall talent.

In order to help bridge the gap between the coach and scout, the Dallas Cowboys altered their process some leading into this year’s draft by putting the groups together in pods to work through any disagreements.

Executive vice president Stephen Jones said the move was not made as a result of last year’s decision to pass on defensive tackle Shariff Floyd. Despite being the fifth player on the Cowboys’ board, the team passed on him and traded down a year ago because Rod Marinelli did not believe Floyd was a fit for the three-technique.

“You’re always looking for ways to improve and get better, and it’s not ever that the coaches and the staff have a straight up disagreement on what a player is, sometimes we just don’t have enough information to understand why a scout docked a guy for this and a coach likes him a little more,” Jones said. “It’s just more, ‘How do we get to that point?’ Historically the coaches have had a short period of time to get on that page when they’ve been trying to win football games all year and the scouts have been out doing the heavy-lifting of understanding what these players are and how they can help us. It’s just un-turning every stone and figuring out ways that we can improve to get better about how we draft.”

How did it work?

The position coach, coordinator, area scout and position scout will group three or four players together and go through each player as a group to hear the how and why a player is a better fit or not a fit for the particular scheme or role.

At the end of the process they put the players in order so there is no confusion on draft day.

We, “really get a feel, for one, on what a coach needs to be successful, and then does that player really fit the criteria and what scout sees in him,” Jones said. “He may not and the coach may think he does. They have had the time to work through that this year.”

Said coach Jason Garrett, “A lot of healthy conversation, healthy discussion, challenge each other, have conflict to get everybody on the same page. I think that is critical. It’s critical within those rooms and across the entire building. We embrace that opportunity. I think we have done a good job of that on getting our board together.”