KIFFIN’S TEXAS 2 DEFENSE: Passing up defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd at 18 was the right decision

Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin crafting the Texas 2 Defense in Dallas - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

It seemed like a perfect match on draft day. With a switch to a 4-3 scheme on the way, the Dallas Cowboys had a need at defensive tackle. Sharrif Floyd, who many saw as the top DT in the draft, surprisingly slid to the Cowboys at No. 18 (and 17 other teams for that matter). But instead of taking Floyd to shore up the defensive line, the Cowboys traded down and took an offensive linemen instead.

So how did the decision sit with new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin? Just fine, apparently.

“[Floyd’s] a really, really outstanding football player, but I think everybody discussed it and the decision was made,” Kiffin told KRLD-FM The Fan. “And I think it was the right decision, or it wouldn’t have been a big time discussion. We made the right decision for the Dallas Cowboys.”

Kiffin, in his first year with the Cowboys after spending the last three seasons at USC, will be installing a Texas variation of the Tampa 2 scheme that traditionally requires a disruptive 3-technique defensive tackle to work well. And while the Cowboys have talent along the defensive line, starters Jay Ratliff and DeMarcus Ware are coming off surgery, while Jason Hatcher and Anthony Spencer will be moving to different positions.

Still, Kiffin seemed far less concerned about the state of his defensive front than his linebacking corps heading into the final day of the draft.

“I walked into the linebacker room the other day and there were five linebackers in there. And I walked in the d-line room and I couldn’t get a seat. I had to sit on the floor,” Kiffin said. “So I said, ‘Coach Garrett, we still need linebackers.’ And everybody knows that.”

Continued below:

Since joining the team in January, Kiffin hasn’t had a lot of time to get a look at his new defenders outside of voluntary workouts that started a few weeks ago. Still, Kiffin said he’s been pleased with what he’s seen so far.

“I’d just like to say that we’ve had tremendous attendance right now. I see them in the weight room, I see them on the field outside the weight room running and working and stuff like that, at the meetings and being on time. And again, that’s not mandatory.”

The normally talkative Kiffin was tight-lipped on one subject, however: which players have impressed him the most.

“Until you get to the grass or you get on the football, a lot of things can change, so I would rather stay reserved on that decision,” Kiffin said.

RELATED: Kiffin breaks down Dallas Cowboys’ defensive draft picks

Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin joined Shan and R.J. on KRLD-FM The Fan over the weekend to discuss the NFL Draft. Here are some highlights:

Dallas Cowboys slot corner B.W. Webb may end up helping them most in 2013 - The Boys Are Back blog

How did the draft go?

Kiffin: Going good. I’m fired up right now. B.W. Webb – remember that name. Yeah, we got a good safety, too.

It took a while to get you any help on defense.

Kiffin: I know, I could’ve watched it on TV [laughs]. But anyway, it’s all good because you know the thing about those offensive players? They convert that third-and-four…

They keep you off the field?

Kiffin: Yeah! I like that. I like that.

Talk about B.W. Webb.

Kiffin: He’s 5-10 and a half, or whatever, and sometimes they’ll get into, ‘Well, is he tall enough to play corner against the big receivers?’ But, you know what? Last time I checked, Ronde Barber at the Combine was 5-9 ¾. We drafted him in 1997 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he’s still playing, unless he retires this year. And this is 2013. He played a lot of nickel. He became famous as a nickel corner. I’m not saying B.W. Webb is Ronde Barber, but I’m saying their height doesn’t concern you that much at the nickel spot because remember your fourth corner – you’ve got three corners on your team when you play nickel – one corner gets hurt, [the fourth corner is] one snap from being a starter. So your corners are very, very valuable.

We have a couple of good corners here now, we really do. But we need competition, and we’ve got to make sure we’ve got depth at corner. Now, the third defensive tackle is very important because if one of those tackles gets hurt – or third defensive end – it’s very important. He’s one snap away. But the fourth defensive tackle, the fourth defensive end is not one snap away. The fourth corner is one snap away.

Dallas Cowboys safety JJ Wilcox played for Georgia Southern - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

Why were the Cowboys so excited about getting J.J. Wilcox?

Kiffin: Well, just because of our safety need. Our starting safety [Gerald Sensabaugh], we don’t have him, and our other safety has not played. Barry Church is a good football player, but he’s coming off an injury and it’s not just a sore shoulder or something like that. We just don’t have a lot of players who have played safety. We needed a safety, we really did. No doubt about it.

What type of player is Wilcox?

Kiffin: Well, he’s a good football player. He was a running back until this last year. He did not move to defensive safety until camp this year before the season started. Their need was so much at Georgia Southern that they had to have a safety, so they put him at safety. And for one year of playing defensive back, he is very, very impressive. Now, he’s still a little bit raw, but he’s a great young man and he’s going to work his tail off. He’s going to be the first guy sitting in the first row. And those kind of guys, I like those kind of players because they’ve got a lot of energy, and when you meet in practice and you watch the tape and stuff, they develop quicker than somebody that’s just, ‘Hey, this is pretty neat.’ No, this is the NFL. Let’s go.

Editors note: To listen to the show, click HERE.

RELATED: NFL analyst – ‘I can see why’ Dallas Cowboys passed on Sharrif Floyd at No. 18

Bucky Brooks, a former NFL defensive back and current analyst for, joined Elf and Slater on KRLD-FM The Fan this week to discuss the Cowboys’ draft. Here are some highlights:

On if he was surprised the Cowboys passed on Florida DT Sharrif Floyd at No. 18:

In talking with scouts afterwards, the big thing with Sharrif Floyd is that throughout the course of the year, he had some solid games, but there were a lot of times where they felt like he was playing on his back. He didn’t play like a big man. So when you kind of couple that together, you look at all of his body of work throughout his time at Florida, there were some issues about him being a dominant player and that is why he fell. I think he landed in a good spot, but I can see why the Cowboys elected not to take him at that point.

On if there was someone else they should’ve taken at 31:

Here’s the thing: when you look at their biggest needs, really on defense, it’s safety. This year, it’s the deepest safety draft you possibly could get. So when you weigh the pros and cons of taking Travis Frederick or maybe [Florida safety] Matt Elam. Am I OK getting Matt Elam and maybe the next available center or guard? I think when you have the opportunity to take the best center that’s available, you know that you can go get comparable value in the second round. Maybe a Jonathan Cyprien, maybe a Phillip Thomas, a Duke Williams. There were a number of safeties there that are very similar in grade and similar in their abilities. More safeties available than centers. You take the guy that is the highest value, the highest-rated guy, then come back and get the other guy.

On if Travis Frederick is better than Alabama center Barrett Jones:

I think Travis is a much better player than Barrett Jones. For all the accolades that Barrett Jones gets, I think it’s a little bit different story that scouts would give you when you look at his game and his potential and how his game projects to the next level. Travis Frederick is a solid, hard hat, lunch pail guy. He’s going to give you all the athleticism and versatility that you want to see from your interior people. He’s got football instincts, savvy and the ability to really just get it done against bigger people. And when you think about the fact that Wisconsin has been so successful producing guys in the pros, particularly on any level of the offensive line, I think this is a great pick. I think it shores up a big area for Dallas.

On if Frederick would’ve made it to No. 47:

It’s hard to know. The thing is what you can’t underestimate [is] it only takes one team to like him. If the Cowboys got a sense that there was another team or a series of teams that liked Travis Frederick, he was not going to be there. Typically when you think about guards and centers, they go not necessarily at the bottom of the first round, they go at the top of the second round. So with them picking 31st, they obviously felt like he was not going to be there at 47 and that’s why they pulled the trigger. And I credit them because when you fall in love with a player, if there’s a guy that you love and you know he’s your guy, there’s no need to get cute trying to get him at the right value. They got him, he’s a starter for their team, he upgrades the offensive line. I think they’re certainly happy with the pick.

Editors note: Listen to The Fan while you read, surf, or hangout around the house. Also, check out The Ticket and ESPN – Dallas by clicking on the “Sports Radio” button below:

the dallas cowboys radio network - 105_3 the fan krld .. Button - LIsten to Dallas Sports Radio stations - Dallas Cowboys - The Boys Are Back blog

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