COMMENTARY| When Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones decided to pass on Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd in the draft, he passed on the opportunity to add young talent to an aging defensive line that was already short on bodies. Jones and the Cowboys are likely regretting that decision after a couple of injuries early in training camp have exposed the team’s poor depth on the defensive line.
The Cowboys defensive is transitioning from the 3-4 scheme to Monte Kiffin’s Tampa-2 defense. In Kiffin’s scheme you need four defensive linemen, as it is run out of the 4-3 alignment.
It stands to reason that you would need to add more defensive linemen to the roster in order to have the required day-to-day personnel available to practice. Evidently the Cowboys decided to ignore reason and logic when they did not select a single defensive lineman in the 2013 draft.
Jones had a chance to make a draft-day splash by selecting Floyd with the No. 19 overall pick, but decided to trade down instead and reach for center Travis Frederick from Wisconsin. Fast forward three months and the Cowboys have lost defensive end Tyrone Crawford to a torn achilles tendon.
Starting defensive end Anthony Spencer will likely miss the rest of training camp after he has his knee scoped. That is the best case scenario. If the scope reveals any major damage then Spencer could be out for a significant period of time.
If the Cowboys’ opener against the New York Giants was today, they would be starting Monte Taylor at left defensive end. Taylor was an undrafted free agent from Cincinnati that spent the 2012 season on the Seattle and Philadelphia practice squads.
Behind Taylor is another undrafted second-year player in Jerome Long. He spend the 2012 season on the Kansas City Chiefs practice squad after signing with them out of San Diego State.
The Cowboys could be forced to enter the season with a starting defensive end who has never played in a regular season NFL game. It appears that the Cowboys are going to try to address this issue by moving Ben Bass over from second-team defensive tackle to left defensive end.
This entire situation could have been avoided if Jones had simply picked Floyd after the talented defensive lineman fell into his lap on draft day. Floyd has outstanding quickness of the ball, and could have helped the Cowboys at both defensive tackle and defensive end.
He could start at defensive tackle in the opener and allow Jason Hatcher to move to the outside.
Hatcher played defensive end in the 3-4 scheme and his 6’6″ frame would be a good fit on the outside in a 4-3 scheme.
The addition of Floyd to the roster would have also helped alleviate the depth concerns at defensive tackle created when Josh Brent decided to retire. He would have been a great pick that would have allowed the coaches some flexibility when dealing with injuries and some off-the-field issues.
Instead Jones got antsy on draft day about needing an offensive lineman, and passed on a supremely talented defensive tackle so he could reach on a center. Jones and Cowboys fans will likely regret that decision during the 2013 season and for years to come.