EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ
There's no denying that coaches like Rod Marinelli are tremendous assets to the Cowboys. However, let's be honest: if the Cowboys aren't successful next season, the majority of the coaching staff may not be with the team next year. Thus, should the organization focus more on drafting solid, versatile players that fit multiple schemes and possibly lean heavily on the scouts?
Rowan: The scouts should always be heavily leaned on, regardless. They should keep in mind their specific scheme when considering players while still trying to grab the best talent available. Sometimes all versatility means is that a player's not great in one spot, which isn't ideal. If a player is leaps and bounds better than the next best guy on the board and can play the 4-3 but is better suited for the 3-4, then go ahead and take a chance on him. But as you mentioned, no point in grabbing a player who's clearly not a 4-3 fit with the pressure on to win quickly.
David:I don't think you'd ever get anyone to admit they consider that during the process of drawing up a draft board. Ideally, you'll get coaching and scouting on the same page and take the best guy available for your needs. If the scheme changes down the line, you find a way to make it work. Kyle Wilber comes to mind: he was drafted to play 3-4 linebacker, and he seemed like a fish out of water as a 4-3 defensive end. After some tinkering, though, the Cowboys have found a spot where he's shown [embedded_ad] promise at 4-3 linebacker. You can find ways to make it work if it comes to that.
What players would have to be taken prior to the Cowboys' pick at No. 16 to make you prefer to trade down instead of making the pick?
Rowan: Let's start with the obvious in Jadeveon Clowney. Barring something otherworldly, he'll be gone off the bat. Aaron Donald's the next that comes to mind. If Donald's on the board and the Cowboys don't take him, I'd be shocked. I'd put linebackers Khalil Mack and Anthony Barr and wide receivers Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans in that category as well, although I think I'd still field calls on the linebackers to gauge interest. The longer the quarterbacks stay on the board, the better, because the longer they're available, the more likely a trade-down scenario can happen.
David: Realistically, I'm going to say Donald, Barr and Kony Ealy. I think those three are all guys the Cowboys would be thrilled to pick at No. 16 overall, and I think there's a good bet at least one of them will be there. But if they aren't, it could be cause for a change in strategy. Obviously, guys like Clowney, Mack and maybe Johnny Manziel come to mind – but I doubt any of them will still be around.