Cowboys looking for the 'right guy'
Club uses Flippen Group in evaluation process to identify its kind of player
IRVING, Texas -- To Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, being the "right kind of guy" matters a lot.
He uses that saying over and over again when describing Cowboys currently on the roster and for those he would like to have on the roster.
With the NFL draft just about here, the importance of finding the right kind of guy matters with the coach and organization attempting to build a roster based on more than just tangible results.
How do you determine if a stranger has the right makeup or the passion, emotion and enthusiasm Garrett wants in players?
For the past few months, the Cowboys have discussed on-field merits of prospects while breaking down the draft. They know how a player would fit into the Cowboys' offensive or defensive scheme. They know how fast a cornerback can run, how much a defensive lineman can bench press and how well a receiver can catch.
To find out if a cornerback, defensive lineman or receiver is the right kind of guy, the Cowboys' scouts, personnel people and coaches ask questions of everyone, from college head coaches to teammates to equipment room interns. They turn into reporters and sleuths without the tape recorder and magnifying glass.
"We want to find out what makes these guys tick, if football is important to them, if they love it," Garrett said. "We want them to work at it. We want them to be a guy who is a member of a team who wants to be great and show up every day."
Garrett has added another tool to the evaluation process: The Flippen Group.
While the Cowboys are not an official endorser of The Flippen Group, they used its testing when hosting visitors to Valley Ranch in order to gain a better understanding of the players' makeup. The players were given a test with 200 words and asked to circle the words that would apply to them.
The Wonderlic tests measures a player's aptitude. This test measures behavior.
"A lot of the words sound the same or have similar meaning," Garrett said. "You get to the point where you don't know what you should check. Am I this? Am I that? It's set up in a way where you can't rig the test."
"We're not going to get into how to run a route or throwing motion," Brad McCoy said. "I've been a coach all my life. Those things I'm used to. But this is more finding the behavioral constraints in helping guys be the best they can be."
Garrett became interested in what The Flippen Group had to offer after finding a test the Cowboys had been using did not seem to jibe with how players behaved once they joined the team. The New York Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks use The Flippen Group, as does Texas A&M.
Stephen McGee took the test while with the Aggies. McGee's answers then revealed a quiet person who shied away from the spotlight. His teammates' answers revealed an outgoing, emotional leader who was confident.
"They identified ways to improve and show me what my strengths and weaknesses are that I can tangibly do as a leader on a team," McGee said. "One of the things was to go and tell five people a day that you believe in them. It was pretty cool."
During training camp last year, Garrett had The Flippen Group give the test to 12-15 players.
"We were profiling the profile," Garrett said. "We had a pretty good grasp on our guys' strengths and weaknesses because we'd been around them. We know them. We wanted to see if it was accurate and profile these players, so if they had this to say about [Jason] Witten, [Tony] Romo, [Jay] Ratliff and it was different than ours, well, that doesn't seem very accurate or if it was, 'Boy, we know them well and that's dead on,' that maybe we'll move forward."
The testing is a piece to a very large evaluation puzzle. Mistakes can cost not only millions, but wins and losses.
The Cowboys' hope is that it helps them identify the right kind of guy.
"Sometimes you say, 'Well, the kid didn't have the greatest interview,' but you know something, if we're asking him to be a correspondent on '60 Minutes,' OK, that's different, but we're asking him to play defensive tackle," Garrett said. "You have to remind yourself it's how he plays."