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How Will McCarthy Influence The Draft Process?


INDIANAPOLIS – With all the business he's had to tend to, it's not surprise Mike McCarthy is only now turning his attention to this draft class here at the NFL Combine.

Even in the early going of these evaluations, though, the Cowboys' new head coach knows he'll have a larger role in the process than he's used to.

"I can see right away I'll be much more involved in the draft and free agency than I was in Green Bay," McCarthy said on Wednesday.

During McCarthy's years at Lambeau Field, the Packers had a notoriously stringent process under former general manager Ted Thompson. Things have opened up under Brian Gutekunst, who was hired after McCarthy's departure, but it's still a far cry from the all-inclusive nature of the Cowboys' process under Jerry and Stephen Jones and vice president of player personnel Will McClay.

"I really like the way that Will has it laid out," McCarthy said. "The integration of analytics, just some of the programming, and they're both good systems. It's not a one is better than the other. I can see I'll be spending a lot more time on personnel."

What that looks like exactly will be the million-dollar question while this draft process plays out. The Cowboys' last coaching staff, spearheaded by Jason Garrett and Rod Marinelli, had an influential – some might even argue a heavy-handed – role in the draft process. By all indications, it was the Cowboys' coaching staff that pushed for the selection of a defensive tackle over a safety just last year, which is a decision that will be debated for some time to come.

"From what they tell me, the way Rod formatted each position on where certain guys fit, it's going to be different here because we're running a different scheme," McCarthy said.

Early indications of what that calls for are starting to be seen. The McCarthy-led Cowboys will likely lean toward a larger mold of defensive tackle, and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan will undoubtedly have his own parameters for what makes a good defensive back.

What's clear is this: McCarthy doesn't care so much about the scheme as the ability of the players running it.

"I've always felt that -- and really part of it developed because in Green Bay, when you're picking 26, 27, 28, you're down there in the 20s every year -- when you're throwing away good players because they don't fit your system, you got to take a hard look at your system," McCarthy said. "If the guys is a good football player, he can play for me."

That's a striking quote for anyone who has followed the Cowboys in recent years, as the organization has often shied away from free agents and draft picks due to one dreaded phrase: "scheme fit."

It's encouraging to think that idea could be left in the past, even if not completely. McCarthy acknowledged that he too values certain body types, measurables and traits, and the Cowboys will undoubtedly use those to pinpoint their next crop of draft picks.

Still, it sounds possible the Cowboys' process may be less rigid with McCarthy involved, and it could help lead to a more talented roster.

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