Cowboys scouting director on draft strategy
The Dallas Cowboys have multiple areas on the roster to upgrade this offseason but none seem bigger than improving the offensive and defensive lines.
Switching to a 4-3 defensive front means more linemen will be needed to play Monte Kiffin's new system. The offensive line was among the league's worst, evident by a running game that ranked 31st and Tony Romo routinely having little time to throw from the pocket.
Tom Ciskowski, the Cowboys' assistant director of player personnel, recently said the team could go in either direction early in the draft because there are good o-line and d-line prospects available.
Ciskowski, who addressed several draft-related topics with DallasCowboys.com's Bryan Broaddus, said moving from a 3-4 to a 4-3 scheme won't be difficult because of the personnel already on the roster.
"I think it will be an easy process for us because in most cases with the outside linebacker we're looking for the pressure player whether he's in a two-point or a three-point (stance)," he said. "DeMarcus Ware is a guy that can pressure from any stance, so we feel real comfortable that he can play the open side end and still be very, very effective."
Ciskowski said the Cowboys like some of the younger defensive linemen on their roster, specifically mentioning Tyrone Crawford and Sean Lissemore. He also talked about defensive tackle Jay Ratliff "hopefully" coming back from having "an injury-prone season."
"We think we got bodies to initially get in there," Ciskowski said, "but you're always looking to re-tool and find some depth within the draft, so they can eventually become starters for you."
Targeting a certain position in the draft can get a franchise in trouble. Again, the Cowboys, like most teams, have many needs, but they shouldn't pass on an elite player to draft a decent player at a position of need.
Ciskowski also addressed how the Cowboys tackle the issue of drafting the best player available.
"You would like to (draft the best player) because there's a lot of money spent to make that determination," he said. "I know in some cases if maybe we're off by a point and we have a player that, as an example, is a 1-3-0 on the board but we have a need and the player is graded at a 1-3-1, you're not talking a dramatic reach by any stretch. You would probably go with the 1-3-1. But if he's a 1-3-0 and reach for a guy that's a 1-4-5, that's what you want to stay away from, drafting according to need and not the value of the pick."
Ciskowski, who has been with the Cowboys since 1992, doesn't make the actual picks. He and his staff gather information and present it to Cowboys coach Jason Garrett and owner and general manager Jerry Jones. According to Ciskowski, both are "great listeners."
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