Earlier in the week, I stopped by Director of College Scouting Tom Ciskowski's office at Valley Ranch. He is always in a great mood and enjoys the back-and-forth when it comes to talking about football. I have known Tom since my early days in the league with the Packers, and then later in my career, starting in 1999, I had the great pleasure of working with him.
On my visit this day, Tom was sitting at his desk when he got the question out before I could, "Well, what do you think?" I paused for a moment and started in with many of the same thoughts and concerns that I had written about since the draft, as well as during the OTAs and minicamps for DallasCowboys.com.
I spoke of the new scheme on defense under Monte Kiffin and how that will affect
There was concern if they had done enough at defensive tackle, but he has a great deal of confidence in Rod Marinelli and how he is going to work with young guys like
Which led us to the overall health of the defense as a unit. Ciskowski truly believes that there is no way that this group will endure the injuries that they suffered last season for a second straight year, but like me, there is also no way to be completely sure. We both feel like there is better depth, though, just in case that gets tested.
On the other side of the ball, the questions along the offensive line led off that discussion. I offered my view about the overall health of the guard spot and how I felt like this was the season for
Ciskowski liked what he had seen from the young center,
I offered Ciskowski my views on the right tackle spot with
The positions of strength on the offense we both felt were at wide receiver and tight end. The additions of Terrence Williams and
Ciskowski was confident in running back
The feel is that
As a scouting department, you always worry during this time of year about whether you have done enough to help your coaches. You are excited about the challenges ahead, but you also know that you might have to use every player off your Emergency Board plus one or two more guys like last season.
In sitting down with Tom, it was nice to go position by position and talk it out. You try to be honest with yourself and don't sugarcoat everything that you see. Are there concerns? You bet, and they know that. But there is also a nice mix of veteran players in the core with some first- and second-year players that can more than step up and handle the job.
On Friday, I will get on a plane to Oxnard with Ciskowski and his scouts, and while we are sitting there, we will ponder all these thoughts … knowing it will not be long until we all find out.