Cowboys talent chief Will McClay on 2020: 'We need our impact players to make impact plays'

Drew Davison, Fort Worth Star-Telegram on

Published in Football

MOBILE, Ala. -- Despite having a roster that many inside and outside the organization believed would contend for a Super Bowl title, the Dallas Cowboys' vice president of player personnel Will McClay, the man tasked with assembling the talent, questioned whether the talent was up to the task.

"If we don't get to where we're going, that talent's not good enough," McClay said, adding that the team needed to improve in both the building the talent and the use of it. "We have to get better at that. ... We need our impact players to make impact plays."

The process of finding more of those impact players is underway with McClay attending the Senior Bowl, the annual showcase that has become a staple of the Cowboys' pre-draft process.

McClay held a wide-ranging interview with local reporters on Wednesday, talking in-depth about how the talent evaluation process may evolve under new coach Mike McCarthy and reaffirming that the team believes Dak Prescott is the quarterback who can get the organization to the next level.

-- On how player evaluations may change with McCarthy: "I don't think it changes. We're always looking for better football players. There might be some tweaks on what we're looking for but at the end of the day, as Jerry (Jones) said the other day, we organizationally set the standard for what we're looking for player-wise. We've got coaches who will be able to put them in the right spot."

-- On his reaction to McCarthy's hiring: "There was sadness at first because we spent a bunch of time with those coaches over there. It's a cut-throat business. That's the way it is. We value those guys, but now it's another opportunity for us to grow. We've been doing the same thing for a long time and now we have an opportunity to continue to grow and hopefully get better."


-- On if he had input on McCarthy's hiring, or if it was the Joneses' decision: "We talked about a lot of things and it was a Jerry and Stephen decision, but I had an opportunity to know things about certain guys and have a part in the process. That was important."

-- On the new coaching staff's input on existing personnel: "It's always good to get an outside (opinion)," McClay said. And since McCarthy and most of the other coaches are new, McClay sought out their opinion on the roster. He said they also met with the team's pro department, and discussed players and how they could best be used. "We've got to understand how they want to use guys and the value of different positions."

-- On Jason Garrett going to the Giants: "He's a good football coach and a good man. They've got a guy who's going to do a good job for them. He's going to compete and he's going to want to beat the Cowboys and we're going to want to go give it to the Giants."

-- On the team's biggest needs this offseason: "I think we have to understand what we're doing schematically and where can we get the most impact for the buck. You can't have a good secondary if you don't have a good line. You can't have a good line if you don't have a good secondary," McClay said. "All those things go into putting a team together." There's no textbook way to do it, but he said, "I think the way to do it is to evaluate guys the right way, give them the right value, be that in free agency or the draft. Then, once you pick them, we coach them and get a chance to see."


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