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Friday, May 9, 2014
Communication worked for Cowboys

By Calvin Watkins

IRVING, Texas -- After what occurred last year in the draft, communication was clearly lacking in the Cowboys' war room. There was a split as to what to do with Sharrif Floyd, a defensive tackle from Florida, who became available in the middle rounds.

It seemed the scouts liked Floyd, but defensive line coach Rod Marinelli did not. So after a discussion, the Cowboys moved on, trading down in the first round and eventually selecting Travis Frederick, a center from Wisconsin.

It was a solid choice, but the process to getting there was flawed. The Cowboys made some changes in the war room, allowing assistant director of player personnel Will McClay to put the draft board together and taking some pressure off Tom Ciskowski, the director of scouting.

McClay, with the help of Ciskowski, implemented a pod system where coaches and scouts gather to discuss several players and then come to an agreement regarding the evaluation.

The objective it to minimize debates during the draft about players and to ease the burden on Jerry Jones, the general manager, who makes the final call on all personnel decisions. Jones makes his decisions based on what the coaches and scouts say.

McClay's goal is to make sure the scouts and coaches are on the same page before recommending a pick to Jones.

Thursday night, the only debating going on was whether or not the Cowboys should trade out of the No. 16 pick and telling Stephen Jones, the executive vice president, which button to push on the phone when the calls came in.

The Cowboys selected Notre Dame tackle Zack Martin with little debate in the war room.

"Ultimately [Jerry Jones] makes the call on who we're choosing as a football team," coach Jason Garrett said. "But the process that we go through with Will McClay and Tom Ciskowski and all of our scouts and all of our coaches, it's really a thorough process and that communication was outstanding."

As the Cowboys were discussing the Martin selection, Garrett spoke with passing game coordinator Scott Linehan. And with three other defensive players the Cowboys liked off the board, defensive coordinator Marinelli was also involved in the discussion.

It made for an easy first night of the draft for the Cowboys.

"We had targeted players, some of those players were gone," Garrett said. "Martin was a guy that we really liked. If we were going to sit there and pick, he was certainly one of the guys ecstatic to be able choose for our football team. It was almost reaffirming some of the conversations that we had had over the last few weeks and certainly over the last few days."