The Man Behind The Scene: The Cowboys Will McClay


Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

When people think of the Dallas Cowboys, the first thing that comes to mind is the great tradition, the star, and of course, the one and only Jerry Jones. And with the Cowboys’ recent success, draft picks included, people automatically assume its Jerry Jones picking all of the players, doing the scouting, and running the draft board room. If you ask any Cowboys fan, they will tell you Jones and his son Stephen or Jason Garrett are responsible for drafting players like Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, or Zack Martin. On the surface, they are the ones making the picks.

But they aren’t the ones doing the dirty work. They aren’t the ones assembling the scouts to find the diamond in the rough draft picks.

And when it comes to drafting unknown players like DeMarcus Lawrence or finding a FA wide receiver like Cole Beasely, it’s the work of one man and his ability to find that talent.

That man is Will McClay. The Cowboys Assistant Director of Player Personnel. McClay is responsible for most, if not all, of the players the Cowboys have drafted in the last several years. He’s the reason the Cowboys moved up in last year’s draft to snatch Lawrence in the second round, an unknown pass rusher from Boise State.

The same with DE Tyrone Crawford, a third rounder the Cowboys selected from Boise State in 2012. Or drafting talented return specialist Dwayne Harris in the 6th round.

Or finding FA kicker Dan Bailey out of Oklahoma State University.

He’s also responsible for finding players like Lance Dunbar, Anthony Hitchens, Devin Street, Terrance Williams, and Joseph Randle. Not to mention landing FA pick ups like Henry Melton this season and George Selvie from last year.  All of these players have been an integral part to the Cowboys success and future success. 

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Like a husband given a honey-to-do list, the Cowboys give McClay a list of the “type of players” they want to build their team around and McClay and his staff find the players and carry out the vision.

Laying down the Cowboys foundation. That simple.

McClay is behind the scenes like a Hollywood producer making great movies. One hit after another. You never see him or hear about him. But you see what he produces. Which has been nothing but success.

The success is having six Pro Bowlers and a 12-4 regular season record with a playoff victory. Advancing to the second round of the playoffs.

And his Boss knows this.

After last year’s draft, Jones said, “from organizing the initial days, from the Senior Bowl all the way to the combine, the organization of the board, coordination with the coaches-I’m over all that because I’ll break it down- and I couldn’t give him anything but an ‘A’ in every respect. “We all know how smart he is, but he’s got a unique perspective. He’s been around this game long enough. It really came to bear in that room. He made a significant, really significant contribution to this being a success”.

Such a success that McClay was a candidate for the NY Jets General Manager’s job.

“I own Will McClay, I own him. He can’t go anywhere,” Jones said,  jokingly. “No, seriously, that’s what success does, always does, it creates a lot of opportunities in a lot of different ways for a lot of people. We’ve obviously, have been for years, sold on him and appreciate the job he has done and he’s doing.”

Jones appreciates McClay so much he’s doing his best to retain him.

Because Jones understands  how invaluable McClay is to the Cowboys’ organization. Even though Jones is the one getting the notoriety.

But from Dez Bryant to DeMarco Murray to the last man on the depth chart, McClay has had a role in putting that player on the Cowboys roster.

Jones knows he’s the GM and the one seen talking on the phone on draft day. But he also knows  someone else made it possible. Made it successful, too.

Who would that man be?

Will McClay.

The man behind the scene.