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Front Office Comfortable With Remote Draft


FRISCO, Texas – The irony of the situation was instantly recognizable, though not overly concerning.

In a week where the Dallas Cowboys will determine the future of their roster remotely, club officials expressed plenty of confidence Tuesday that they can successfully navigate the pitfalls of digital communication.

Across the NFL, the international outbreak of COVID-19 has called for unprecedented measures in the way clubs are handling this offseason – including the approaching 2020 NFL Draft on Thursday night.

But for all the complications that come with holding a draft entirely via phone calls and teleconferences, Cowboys executives said the buildup has been relatively smooth – with the exception being Tuesday's actual pre-draft press conference.

"This is probably the least quality reception that I've experienced, and possibly as a group, has experienced in the last two weeks," said Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones. "Right now, it's seemingly restricted delivery on the picture, but I think it's gone seamless."

Whatever problems might have arisen on a call with Cowboys media, it will be of little consequence if the actual draft goes off well. The Cowboys were part of the NFL's league-wide mock draft on Monday afternoon, and Jones said the overall process was encouraging.

"When we had glitches, one of the keys to me was to have backups, backups and backups to execute trades or to execute the business of the draft," Jones said. "We had that. We exercised that. We used backups. We handled circumstances that could possibly happen during the draft, on the draft board. I thought that was handled very well."

Jones even allowed that one of Monday's glitches came up when the Cowboys were on the clock, allowing them to work through the details. The NFL reportedly asked many teams to work through mock trades during the exercise, allowing the Cowboys to come away from the process for how a draft day trade might work between Jerry Jones, chief operating officer Stephen Jones, head coach Mike McCarthy and executive vice president of player personnel Will McClay.

"We have the ability to figure the trades and share that with each other as we're on the clock. That's very doable. And the communication between us in the draft room is excellent," Jerry Jones said. "We have the ability to communicate. I have a direct line with Mike. I have a direct line with Stephen. We have direct lines with each other. We can see what moving down, the risks and the players we might miss to move down, whether that's justified to what we need. We have the ability to do all of those things, and of course, that's the exercise that is going on in all of the drafts of the past that I've been involved in."

Comfort was the consistent theme throughout this pre-draft conversation. For the past several weeks, the Cowboys' coaching and scouting staffs have gone through player evaluations – many of which have been released to the public.

Coming off a decade with the Green Bay Packers, McCarthy was sure to compliment the manner in which McClay has coordinated efforts between the coaching staff and the personnel department.

"I think he's done a phenomenal job with the process and coordination both with the scouts and the coaches working together," he said. "Really, these last few days with the leadership group, Jerry, Stephen and myself and Will going back through this list of players has been unique to my experience."

Given the nature of the situation, complications may to arise. That's a probability with a process that has so many moving parts. But with the work they've put in, it sounds like the Cowboys are ready for whatever happens this weekend, regardless of the circumstances surrounding them.

"I'm comfortable that between the work we have done, getting our drafts ready throughout the league -- but certainly the Cowboys, which is really the only one I can speak to, that we're going to be able to do the kinds of things that we always have done on draft day," Jones said.