The Draft Day War Room

Just how do the Dallas Cowboys come up with a gameplan for draft day? Think about all the uncertainities, unknowns, and last minute changes that go into draft day decisions. Here is an indepth look at how the Cowboys organization will go about their decision.

Make no mistake about it, all true NFL fans are extremely passionate about how their team performs in the draft. Lets face it, the draft is how your team gets better and builds for the future. The draft is, in a way, the starting point of the season. Pick up a couple of key players in the draft, add a player or two via free agency, and all of sudden people start whispering playoffs.

For the 2002 version of the Dallas Cowboys, the draft is as important as it's ever been. Jerry Jones has his highest draft pick since 1990 with the number six overall selection, and the Cowboys have the opporunity to add a franchise player or, for lack of a better term, a franchise bust. Jones, and the rest of the Cowboys' organization can ill afford a mistake come April 20th.

With that being said, just how do the Dallas Cowboys figure out who they are going to draft? Think about all the confusion that surrounds the NFL Draft for a moment. Last second deals, teams trading up and stealing your prized selection- almost anything can happen once a team goes on the clock.

As we all know, owner Jerry Jones is actively involved in all personnel decisions, and in reality, he is the personnel director for the Cowboys. Dallas is also a little unusual in their front office structure because there aren't a whole lot of well-known personnel guys. However, it is a veteran group that generally works well together.

The very heart of the decision making process in will occur this week at Valley Ranch. Jerry Jones, Dave Campo and almost all of the scouts have been to several combines around the country over the course of the last few weeks, collecting preliminary information on who they'll be going after.

Now that most of that work is done, it's time for everyone to meet and figure out who they'll want on their "draft day board". The scouts are primarily information gatherers and in reality they do not have any decision making powers, but their does seem to be a mutual respect between the scouts and the coaching staff.

"The board" consists of Cowboys' top prospects, ranked in order from top to bottom. This is really where all of the analysis takes place. Team needs are brought into focus, and prospects are analyzed from every possible angle imaginable. Once this board is in place, there is hardly any deviation from it whatsoever. And while you might think that the offseason acquisitions of Bryant Westbrook and La'Roi Glover might force the Cowboys to look at other positions besides the defensive line or the secondary in the draft, you'd be wrong.

"By picking up Bryant Westbrook and La'Roi Glover, we have in no way limited ourselves in terms of the draft," head coach Dave Campo said earlier today. "We are hoping that Westbrook can get back to 100%, and he's close to there now, but you just never know. La'Roi Glover was also a big move for us, but you never can predict what will happen with him or Michael Myers, we just need to get better and add more depth."

(Furthermore, six out of the eleven players invited to a pre-draft workout on April 12th are either defensive tackles or cornerbacks.)

Once the board is finalized, and these closed door meetings are finished, the Cowboys have a gameplan and they generally try to stick to it. From that point, the offers from other teams will begin to pour in, and with the sixth pick in the draft this year you bet that there will be a lot of activity this year.

Based on what kind of offers the Cowboys receive in terms of players, future picks, and even cash- Jerry Jones, Dave Campo, Bruce Coslet, Mike Zimmer and the gang will figure out if a trade-up or a trade-down can somehow work in their favor. Again, the decision making comes basically from their draft day board.

Once April 20th rolls around, the Cowboys have a general idea of what to do in almost any situation. Unfortunately, even though Jerry Jones gets most of his information from the coaching staff and the scouts, he is the one that has his finger poised on the button. And with that authority comes the power to deviate from the gameplan.

Let's just hope Jerry decides to stay the course this year, because there is just too much riding on the sixth pick to make a mistake- and that goes for the latter round picks as well.

Other Notes for Wednesday:
Momentum seems to be building in the Cowboys' camp around CB Phillip Buchanon and OL Bryant McKinney, two big names from the Miami Hurricanes. Campo has been quoted recently with very positive comments about both of these players, and his overall fondness for the athletes that have come out of Miami's program. We'll keep you posted.

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