‘A basketball team’: Cowboys’ NFL draft haul foreshadows defensive remake under Dan Quinn

FRISCO, Texas — When the Cowboys made their final and whopping 11th selection of the 2021 NFL draft, a few takeaways crystallized in clarity.

Returning defenders will face competition.

Ballhawks are welcome in North Texas.

And the defenders coming for veterans’ jobs, in classic Dan Quinn form, will be long.

“A basketball team,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones joked of his draft class that averages 6-foot-3 and 7/8 inches. “It’s that long.”

Quinn looks the other way when identified as the culprit.

The first-year Cowboys coordinator joined Dallas after he was fired as Falcons head coach partway through the 2020 season. He spent the interim months—he was fired Oct. 11 after Atlanta dropped to 0-5—combing through film and asking former players and coaches: What didn’t work? What did? Systems and schemes, Quinn said Saturday, were remolded rather than just “rinse and repeat.” But the traits that carry through his history coaching in the league appeared consistently in the Cowboys’ draft selections this weekend.

“The bigger, the faster, the longer that we can play, the more aggressive we will be,” Quinn said Saturday from the Star, in his first public comments since hired. “Because we like to play certainly in a bold style. So, having guys with length and speed and run-and-hit factor—that's a big part of it."

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