MOBILE, Ala. – Sitting in the stands at Ladd-Peebles Stadium drives home the transition the Dallas Cowboys are going through in 2020.
Led by vice president of player personnel Will McClay, the Cowboys' entire scouting department is on hand to evaluate this crop of Senior Bowl players. With so many other bits of business to tend to back in Texas, Mike McCarthy and his coaching staff are not.
Don't misinterpret that – there's nothing wrong with McCarthy's decision to stay home. But in the midst of the Cowboys' first coaching change in a decade, it's a visible reminder of the changes coming to the organization.
"There was sadness at first because we spent a bunch of time with those coaches that were there. It's a cut-throat business and that's the way it is, and we value those guys," McClay said. "But now it's another opportunity for us to grow. We've been doing the same things for a long time and now we have an opportunity to continue to grow and get better."
What exactly will those changes look like? This coming draft could be awfully telling. The Cowboys have long valued an all-inclusive decision making process, drawing input from their scouting department and their coaching staff. Obviously, the coaches in question are now different, but McClay said Wednesday he doesn't expect to see wholesale changes in the setup.
"I don't think it changes. We're always looking for better football players," he said. "There might be some tweaks on things that we're looking for, but at the end of the day – as Jerry said the other day – we, organizationally, set the standard for what we're looking for player-wise."
A reason for that is because it doesn't sound like McCarthy wants to reinvent the wheel. He already said last week that he wants to build his offense off what Kellen Moore has already put in place. And though new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan figures to use multiple looks, it doesn't sound like the Cowboys are preparing for a drastic departure from what's in place.
"At the end of the day, we're going to stay within the same scheme, and we're going to do things a little bit different," McClay said. "So our job is to go and evaluate all the players. They might want bigger interior players, so that's fine. We'll go and look for that. But I think we're going to be looking for the same type of players."
Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones paraphrased McCarthy on Tuesday when he put it as simply as possible.
"I think Mike said it best: He just wants to take players that can make plays. And scheme around those type of players," Jones said. "Get them the ball on the offensive side of the ball and put our great players in position to make plays on the defensive side of the ball."
That process is only just beginning, as the Senior Bowl is just the first of many information gathering opportunities during this draft process. But as the Cowboys begin to zero in on their targets for 2020, it'll be interesting to see how McCarthy and his staff make their presence felt.
"The coaches have input, the scouts have input, that's why we feel like our process is very good," McClay said. "Because anybody that's been around them, that knows more about them and knows what they're putting them into – if you pull all that stuff together, we've got a chance to put together a good team."