Each week leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), the ESPN.com blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today’s topic: the decision-makers.
Everyone knows that owner/general manager Jerry Jones makes the final call in the draft room. But he receives plenty of input from son Stephen and the highly underrated director of scouting, Tom Ciskowski. If there are a couple of safeties the Cowboys are torn between, Jones might send for secondary coach Dave Campo. But in the end, Jones makes the final call. In '08, he turned to offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to get a final opinion on whether running back Felix Jones was the right pick ahead of Rashard Mendenhall, who eventually went to the Steelers. At the time, the Cowboys were in need of a complementary back to Marion Barber. Jones is actually a good listener, but he's making the final decision. When Bill Parcells was head coach from '03-'06, there was obviously a different dynamic. He had far more say than Wade Phillips currently has in the draft room.
Coach Tom Coughlin has a strong voice in the draft room, but general manager Jerry Reese is making the final call. Reese has a ton of trust in his scouting department, so he lets them do a lot of talking. But the mild-mannered former scout doesn't have any problem making a decision. Reese has a strong vision of what he's looking for in a player. And he almost never reaches. The Giants hit on a lot of picks late in the draft, in part, because Reese takes so much pride in the second day of the draft. Now that will be the third day in the draft, and he'll have more of an opportunity to re-set the board.
Coach Andy Reid is the main decision-maker, but he gets a lot of input from president Joe Banner and new general manager Howie Roseman. Reid was always Donovan McNabb's biggest defender, but obviously he came around to thinking it was time to move the veteran quarterback. Reid's one of the few coaches in the league with final authority in the draft room. He's very respectful, though, of his scouting department and doesn't often try to trump them with impulsive decisions. Reid has a clear vision of what type of player he hopes to produce. He lets the scouts bring him the best value and then he normally goes along with their recommendations. Some would argue that Reid has too much on his plate. But this is the way he prefers to work. And for now, owner Jeff Lurie's not looking to change that dynamic.
Mike Shanahan immediately became the most powerful head coach in the division. Coughlin and Reid have a lot of authority, but they don't wear it on their sleeves like Shanahan. He's made it clear that money's not an issue when it comes to dealing with belly-aching players such as Albert Haynesworth. Dan Snyder has stepped aside and given Shanahan the ultimate authority. Is that too much for one man to handle? Well, we're about to find out. Fortunately for Shanahan, Redskins general manager Bruce Allen seems to be a less impulsive personnel man. His expertise is in doing contracts and working with the salary cap, but he has enough gumption to challenge Shanahan on certain issues.