Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Dallas Cowboys [Print without images]

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Coaching background helps Will McClay

By Todd Archer

IRVING, Texas -- One element I was not able to work into Tuesday’s feature on Dallas Cowboys assistant director of player personnel Will McClay was his coaching background.

He was a defensive coordinator for five Arena Football League teams, including the Dallas Desperados, and served as the Desperados head coach from 2004-08.

At the NFL scouting combine in February, coach Jason Garrett said McClay’s background as a coach is helpful, but noted a number of the scouts have a coaching background.

The Cowboys have a number of personnel on their scouting staff. Director of Scouting Tom Ciskowski was a college assistant coach from 1979-91 before joining the Cowboys’ scouting department in 1992. National Scout Drew Fabianich was the defensive coordinator at Tennessee from 1993-96 and had a number of coaching stops before moving into scouting.

“The communication in our building is critical and Will’s been a big part of that,” Garrett said. “Coaches, scouting, the executive branch of our organization, we want to make sure everybody’s talking, everybody’s on the same page, and Will’s done a great job with that. I think philosophy’s are all the same, that’s a good thing. It’s given Tom Ciskowski an opportunity to really focus on the college stuff, so he’s obviously a big part of this whole dynamic that we have and has been for a number of years. Bringing players into your organization is a really important piece to having success, and if everyone’s on the same page about what kind of players and what kind of people you want to bring it, it gives you a great chance of doing what you want to do.”

As a pro scout, McClay was a quasi-assistant with the Cowboys, working in the offseason with defensive backs at different times.

“I think it’s a huge benefit not only in evaluating talent, but evaluating what’s behind the talent,” said Terry Gray, a scouting consultant and former assistant coach to McClay. “Who is the guy? What’s important to him? How does he compete? What is his daily work ethic? What is he thinking? What’s his reaction time? Can he process what he sees in a timely fashion to compete in the NFL? Will’s not just been a coach, but being a head coach gives him a deeper perspective on evaluating players and how they play on the field, but what they are built on and who they are and what their core principles are.”