Dallas Cowboys executives are attending the 2023 NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis this week to get an up-close look at the talent in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Head coach Mike McCarthy and chief operating officer Stephen Jones took the time to talk to the media from the combine earlier this week.
Among the topics discussed were the coaching changes, Dak Prescott, free agency, the combine, and the NFL draft.
Dallas moved on from eight assistant coaches in the offseason, including offensive coordinator Kellen Moore.
The team promoted Brian Schottenheimer to the role and will have McCarthy calling the plays in 2023. The head coach says he sees “a lot to build off of.”
“We played really good offense the past three years,” McCarthy said while explaining his strategy to reporters in Indianapolis on Wednesday. “It’ll really be just building off that.”
“I think the last three years, we grew into the offense I wanted it to be, as far as the run-pass combination, and I just feel like we’ll have another variation, and hopefully we can take another step.”
The head coach also talked about building around quarterback Dak Prescott, who struggled in 2022.
“We feel strongly about Dak as our future and obviously want to continue building around him,” McCarthy explained.
“Dak is the ultimate team leader,” Jones added while talking to reporters on Tuesday. “It all starts with the quarterback, and I think we’ve got ours, and I think, with the players around him, we have a strong foundation.”
Adding to that strong foundation will be part of the team’s process this offseason, whether through free agency or the draft.
“I like to hope we’re always aggressive, and I like to hope we’re going to make our team better,” Jones remarked. “We’re not satisfied with where we got to. We’ve got to take the next step.”
“Obviously, we want to scratch most of our itches in free agency before we get to the draft, so we’re not drafting based on need,” he concluded.
The Cowboys have many big decisions regarding their free agents this offseason, including running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard.
Elliott is still under contract but could be cut to save money after a disappointing season.
Conversely, Pollard is an unrestricted free agent and will command a big contract after a career-best season. Many like NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport have speculated that the Cowboys may use the franchise tag to keep him.
Jones says the team has yet to make any decisions.
“We haven’t finalized any decisions yet in terms of what that room’s going to look like,” he said when asked about his running backs. “[The franchise tag is] Not out of the question, but we haven’t decided on that yet.”
“More than likely, we’ll use it. Not necessarily on Tony, but we’ll use it.”
The Cowboys could also count on improvement from within.
“I just don’t want to go backwards,” McCarthy told reporters on Wednesday. “From my experience, the biggest improvement will come from within.”
“Our first and second-year players will make improvements. That doesn’t show up in the draft,” he continued. “Our third and fourth years make improvements; I’m counting on that. We had it last year.”
“You just want to get better, and I believe that’s a huge part of draft and develop.”
Nonetheless, the combine should help the team get to know the incoming rookies and find their strengths in the draft.
“I thought our rookies, really the last two years, played earlier than you’d like, but it will serve us well moving forward,” McCarthy claimed.
“I look at this week as really the opportunity for first impressions. I think it’s cool when they work out and show their skills and so forth, but I think, like anything as a coach, you just never get too far away from the game film when you talk about production and performance.”
The 2023 NFL Scouting Combine runs through Sunday, March 5, with players taking part in on-field drills each day.
Defensive linemen and linebackers will work out Thursday; defensive backs Friday; quarterbacks, wide receivers, and tight ends Saturday; and running backs and offensive linemen Sunday.
The 2023 NFL Draft occurs in Kansas City, from April 27 through April 29. The Cowboys have six draft picks and will make their first selection at No.26 overall.
The Dallas Cowboys website lists some names of prospects to watch at this week’s combine. Among them are Texas running back Bijan Robinson, Tennessee wide receiver Jalin Hyatt and Texas Tech EDGE Tyree Wilson.
Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is participating in the PGA TOUR Champions Invited Celebrity Classic. The celebrity pro-am tournament will take place at Las Colinas Country Club in Irving from April 21 to April 23.