Dallas Cowboys Draft: Redemption for McClay – Indictment for Garrett

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - DECEMBER 28: Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb #2 of the Oklahoma Sooners. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - DECEMBER 28: Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb #2 of the Oklahoma Sooners. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

If the 2020 NFL Draft taught us anything about the Dallas Cowboys draft process, it’s that Jason Garrett was clearly to blame and Will McClay should be allowed to operate freely.

The past few seasons, the Dallas Cowboys drafting prowess had been getting by on reputation more than actual accomplishments. The team made famous for draft steals had been floundering with their early picks the last few seasons.

Cowboys Nation started to wonder if the Dallas Cowboys were simply just lucky, and the recent draft day misses were regression to the mean. As such, Will McClay’s once infallible status was starting to come into question. Well, I have news for you, after the 2020 NFL Draft, doubt Will McClay no longer.

The Dry Spell

Like audible flatulence on a first date, Dallas Cowboys fans noticed something they wish they hadn’t noticed: The past few years, Will McClay struggled hitting on his early picks. Fans have long taken comfort in McClay’s expertise. We blame coaches, players, the general manager and owner, but we never blame our top personnel guy. McClay was our great hope.

But top 2017 picks, Taco Charlton and Chidobe Awuzie, weren’t close to fulfilling their expectations. 2018 top picks, Leighton Vander Esch and Connor Williams, have also been questionable decisions (LVE was terrible last year and now his injury threatens his career long-term as well). And 2019 picks, Trysten Hill and Connor McGovern, have combined to play just 121 snaps between them.

Sure, besides Taco, it’s too early to call any of them failures at this point, but they’ve been disappointments, to be sure. And as such, they’ve been a series of blemishes on Will McClay’s once sparkling draft record.


One variable in this whole mess has always been how much outside influences have had over personnel decisions. Were these draft successes/failures on Will McClay or were Jerry, Stephen, and/or Jason Garrett forcing the franchise to deviate from Will McClay’s best player available?

A quick look at this past weekend’s Jason Garrett-less draft should be able to answer that for you. The 2020 NFL Draft didn’t look like anything we’d seen. The Dallas Cowboys jumped on opportunities left and right. They didn’t feel pressured to attack positions of desperate need like cornerback, safety, or defensive end. Instead they took what the football gods gave them, and Cowboys Nation couldn’t be happier.

In no world would a Jason Garrett-led Cowboys team draft CeeDee Lamb in the first round. It’s not necessarily Lamb that would push Garrett away, but rather the perception of positional need. We saw it happen increasingly over the past few seasons. Heck, we even saw it in that great draft class of 2016.

Dallas just always seemed to go in with an agenda that had very little to do with what unforeseen players could possibly drop to them. They wouldn’t take a draft steal if it was staring them in the face. Last season they had just that when nearly all of the top-rated safeties in the draft fell to them in the second round. Did they adjust to the situation and take advantage of this blessing? No, they drafted the guy they always planned to draft in the second round, Trysten Hill.

How much different would the 2020 NFL Draft have looked if Jason Garrett were in charge? Best case scenario, something like this tweet above. That might not seem like a terrible draft but it all but assures the offense and defense would take a step back from 2019 to 2020, doesn’t it (lost Byron Jones, Robert Quinn, Travis Frederick, and Randall Cobb)?

At least now we can feel the offense stepped up considerably and the defense found a way to tread water.

Contrary to popular opinion, Jerry and Stephen Jones run a pretty democratically balanced front office. They get input from multiple sources to make personnel decisions and the draft is no different. They let their coaches chime in and influence decisions.

More from Cowboys Draft

But this year was a little different. The scouting department truly ran the show. Yes, Mike McCarthy and Joneses had all the cameras, but it was Will McClay who did the lifting. They’ve all basically admitted as much. All they had to do was stay out of the way and let McClay work.

And what do ya know?

It was an epic haul.

For years we wondered how much other entities got in the way of Will McClay doing his job. Perhaps now we have an answer. We may not need to pile anymore dirt on Jason Garrett’s grave, but we certainly do owe Will McClay our trust again. And we also owe it to Jerry and Stephen for resisting the urge to “contribute”.

Next. Grading the Cowboys Draft: Breaking down the picks. dark

If the 2020 NFL Draft has taught Dallas Cowboys fans anything, it’s that Will Mcclay has been vindicated for any suspect decisions over the past few years because when he’s set free to make the best possible picks, he succeeds.

  • Published on 04/28/2020 at 11:01 AM
  • Last updated at 04/28/2020 at 12:19 PM