As clubs make their way through the final OTA and mini-camp practices for the off season, the focus now shifts to preparation for training camp and getting personnel boards in order before it’s time to report to Oxnard. When I worked in the pro personnel department for Jerry and Stephen Jones one of my responsibilities was to put together an Emergency Board of players that could be available if we needed to add a player or two that could upgrade the roster or if we suffered an injury that required us to have to replace a player.
In my time with the Cowboys, the coach that I enjoyed working with the most when it came to our board was Bill Parcells. I remember daily that he would stop by my office and we would add and subtract players to try and get the board just right. Parcells called our board “Tidewater” in honor of the Triple-A affiliate at the time for the New York Mets. Parcells took great pride in that board but the funny thing about it was we never had to use it much. There was something about a Parcells led team where the players remained healthy the majority of the season and for a pro personnel guy like me, that was a great thing.
In 2012, this Cowboys pro department wasn’t as fortunate and was stretched to the limit in the number of players that they had to add to replace key players that were lost to season ending injuries. During this past season I remember passing scouts Judd Garrett, Will McClay, Henry Sroka and Alex Loomis in the hallway at Valley Ranch and all I could do was shake my head as they attempted to bring another player in the mix while the club was fighting to stay in the playoff race but to their credit, they never gave up or gave in to the task at hand. They did an outstanding job of taking their emergency board and putting it to work.
On the waiver wire from the league on Monday, there was a complete list of players that were unrestricted free agents that were not ask to resign sign by their own club. On average there were 4 to 8 players for each team on this list. For example, the Cowboys had Michael Coe, Derrick Dockery, Charlie Peprah and Brady Poppinga that they did not bring back. What the pro scouts will do now is begin to build their board for the Fall with this list but also any college players that Chris Hall might have left over from the college draft.
The way that this works is that the scouts will break the board down into position groups. For example let’s take the position of defensive tackle, off that list you look for positional fits to your scheme. A nose man like Casey Hampton would be a consideration in a 3-4 scheme, but not with this current group. So guys like Nick Eason, Spencer Johnson, Sedrick Ellis, and Trevor Laws all could be players that you would have on that ready list. There are guys like Richard Seymour, Ty Warren, Corey Williams and Rocky Bernard you might consider later if your board gets wiped out but because they are all between the ages 32 and 34 and could use them for a short blast but not for a long string of games.
You will also have players that scouts might have liked like Israel Idonije or Amobi Okoye of the Bears but now you are working with their former defensive line coach and at this point in time would rather go another direction, so those players would not be on the board. The same could be said of a player like guard Brandon Moore of the Jets. His former offensive line coach is part of the staff here and maybe his view of him is not as high so you wouldn’t have him on your board.
In talking to the scouts, there are some interesting names out there but again, it’s about fitting your scheme on both sides of the ball. Here are just a few names that are on that list for them to go over as possibilities:
Deion Branch, Donte’ Stallworth, Devery Henderson
Travis Beckum, Chris Cooley
Winston Justice, Sean Locklear
Antoine Caldwell, Russ Hochstein, Ryan Lilja, Cooper Carlisle, Reggie Wells
Todd McClure, Dan Koppen
Tyler Thigpen, Matt Leinart, Byron Leftwich
Peyton Hillis, Cedric Benson, Ryan Grant, Javon Ringer
uqua Parker, Trevor Scott, Patrick Chukwurah
Nick Eason, Spencer Johnson, Sedrick Ellis, Trevor Laws
Barrett Ruud, LeRoy Hill, Kirk Morrison
Nate Clements, Rashean Mathis, Chris Carr, Ronde Barber
As you can see, it might not be the most inviting names to add to your club at this moment but when you are trying to win a game in Week 10, on the road against the Saints, they look like Pro Bowl players. The Emergency Board is something that every club keeps and it’s the only way to manage personnel problems that might arise during the season.