Changes in personnel roles are paying off

September, 5, 2013
9/05/13
9:30
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- In what could have been described as a subtle change in how the Dallas Cowboys do business, Tom Ciskowski was able to get pro personnel assignments taken off his plate so he could concentrate on college players and prepare the NFL draft board and Will McClay was asked to take over the pro scouting duties as the new assistant director of player personnel.

Ciskowski was in charge of both areas until this spring, when the Jones family decided to split the duties. Ciskowski is the director of scouting and McClay is the assistant director of player personnel.

McClay has made an impact, especially in the past 48 hours.

Earlier in the summer McClay was able to get the Cowboys to sign George Selvie and Nick Hayden, two free-agent defensive linemen who might start Week 1 because of injuries to starters Anthony Spencer and Jay Ratliff.

Then, on the eve of the regular season, the Cowboys made a flurry of deals in which they picked up draft picks through trades involving defensive tackle Sean Lissemore and tight end Dante Rosario. The team also claimed special-teams player Kyle Bosworth and acquired defensive ends Edgar Jones and Caesar Rayford in trades.

This isn’t to say Ciskowski wouldn't have made these deals, but the desperate nature of the team on the defensive line and the special-teams problems in the preseason fueled some of these decisions.

"I give Will a lot of credit and I don’t want to be negative toward Tom because some years [trades] present themselves," Cowboys executive director Stephen Jones said. "Tom had a lot on his plate trying to do college and pro and I think we decided, just like we’re doing a lot of things different, let's try to get better, let's divide up the role and let's get more out of both of them."

The switch also allows Ciskowski to scout more college teams and not worry about NFL teams.

McClay's background is diverse. From his time as an Arena Football League coach for the now-folded Dallas Desperados, he gained knowledge about Rayford, who used to play in the league. McClay also was an assistant director of pro scouting for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2001.

Ciskowski is a solid judge of college talent. Last year, the Indianapolis Colts wanted to interview him for their then-vacant GM gig. The Cowboys denied him the opportunity to do so because they value him.

So far this offseason, the Cowboys' changes in the personnel department have looked good.

"They’re important 365 days out of the year," coach Jason Garrett said. "We have pro personnel guys. We have college scouts and those guys do a fantastic job, really scouring the landscape to help us find the best players, guys who fit in to what we want to do on offense, defense and throughout our football team. And it’s really important for them to understand and know the league as you’re cutting your team down."
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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