After a near-decade under Jason Garrett, the Dallas Cowboys head into the draft with a new head coach and staff, which adds an extra layer of mystery.
For the first time since 2011, the Dallas Cowboys will go into a draft without Jason Garrett at the helm of America’s Team. The longtime head coach was replaced after the Cowboys posted a disappointing 8-8 record last season, with former Super Bowl-winning Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy taking his place. And his presence has added a new layer of mystery to the upcoming NFL draft for Dallas.
After signing on with the Cowboys, McCarthy went about the business of retooling the coaching staff. Gone are names like defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, passing game coordinator and defensive backs coach Kris Richard, and wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal.
New names like Mike Nolan, John Fassel, Jim Tomsula, Joe Philbin, and Al Harris now populate the nearly unrecognizable staff. In fact, the only holdovers from 2019 are offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, strength and conditioning coach Markus Paul, assistant defensive line coach Leon Lett, and quarterback coach Doug Nussmeier. The latter being the Cowboys’ tight end coach last season.
Despite the presence of plenty of new faces at The Star, the brain trust remains intact. Team owner and general manager Jerry Jones, his son, executive vice president and player personnel director Stephen Jones, and vice president of player personnel Will McClay represent the heart of the Cowboys’ brass. And they’ll still be the driving force behind the selections the team ultimately makes in the upcoming draft.
But the introduction of McCarthy adds a new wrinkle to the annual selection event, which will take place virtually later this month. Although the trio of Jones, Jones, and McClay remain in charge of buying the groceries, there’s a new chef in the kitchen. And he and his new staff certainly have some new ideas on how to go about bringing a Lombardi Trophy back to Big D.
At this point, how McCarthy and the new coaching staff will change things in Dallas is unknown. What they do and do not value in potential draft selections is unknown. Exactly what kind of defense they’ll employ is unknown. How they feel about the players on their current roster is unknown. It’s all a big mystery, and that could prove to be both exciting and worrisome for fans.
We had nearly a decade to decode and decipher the wants, needs, and desires of Garrett and his consistent coaching staff. For instance, the Cowboys valued a three-technique defensive tackle in last year’s draft over a plethora of talented safeties. And that was due to the importance of that position in Marinelli’s defensive scheme.
Therefore, Dallas made UCF’s Trysten Hill their top selection 58th overall in 2019, passing on safeties like Virginia’s Juan Thornhill, Washington’s Taylor Rapp, and Delaware’s Nasir Adderley. But would the Cowboys have gone a different direction had McCarthy and this new coaching staff been in place?
Make no mistake. This isn’t business as usual for the Dallas Cowboys going into the 2020 NFL Draft. It’s a bit of a mystery. And trying to determine what the team might do could be an exercise in futility.
Especially without knowing what Mike McCarthy and his new staff value differently than the previous regime, what kind of prospects they are looking to add to the roster, and exactly how they feel about the players that are already under contract. The latter this group will likely not truly find out for themselves until training camp is well underway.