By Mike Fisher | 105.3 The Fan,

IRVING (105.3 THE FAN) —  The Cowboys are relying on “The Invasion Of The Pod People” in a scouting-department strategy that could help Dallas see an invasion of defensive-line help in the premier rounds of this week’s NFL Draft.

Sources suggest to 105.3 The Fan that Dallas’ pinpointed group of targets should the Cowboys stay at No. 16 include UCLA defensive end Anthony Barr and defensive tackle Aaron Donald — and in that order.

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Last year, Dallas had defensive-line desires as they have now. Yet they passed on Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd despite his very high standing on their board — the decision coming as result of disagreement with the scouting department that rated him as a top-five player and then-defensive-line coach Rod Marinelli (now the defensive coordinator) who won a last-second argument against Floyd’s fit in the Dallas scheme.

This is an example of “15 months of research being ruined by 15 minutes of panic.” And maybe the Pod People can help Dallas avoid such conflicts this time around.

The Cowboys say evaluations of players now come under the scrutiny of “pod groups” made up of representatives from across the organization. For instance, on Barr and Donald, scouting boss Will McClay, Marinelli, the regional scout and possibly a scout with defensive-line expertise convened to create a consensus on the prospects before their placement on the board.

“It obviously fixes something like (the Floyd conflict), but I don’t think this was a direct response,” Cowboys exec Stephen Jones says. “You’re always looking for ways to improve and get better, and it’s not ever that the coaches and the staff have a straight up disagreement on what a player is. … It’s just unturning every stone and figuring out ways that we can improve to get better about how we draft.”

The same efforts apply to players who Dallas values (though not as high as No. 16). It works for all positions, but among D-linemen circled names include tackles Dominique Easley and Timmy Jernigan and ends Demarcus Lawrence, Scott Crichton and Kony Ealy.

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Other considerations at 16 will include QB Johnny Manziel, receiver Odell Beckham, and linebackers CJ Mosley and Ryan Shazier.

Other drop-down candidates include receiver Cody Lattimer and safety Jimmie Ward.

At all positions, but especially at defensive line, stones are being unturned. And the work is being done by The Pod People.

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