IRVING, Texas– Sharrif Floyd’s first-round grade from the Cowboys had a lot more to do with his overall talent than his fit in the new defensive scheme.
The Cowboys were heavily criticized for leaving the highly-touted defensive line prospect on the board and moving back in the first round last year. Executive vice president Stephen Jones said that choice had a lot to do with the change to the 4-3, which the grade may not have reflected, and he believes the team made the right decision in the end.
“I feel like we had him graded right, yes,” Jones said. “Did we have him graded right for our system? That’s debatable.”
Jones said it was an unfortunate situation with Floyd, but he credited owner/general manager Jerry Jones for being reasonable enough to judge the player’s fit and decide to pass and move back in the first round. He knows the team got criticized for the move, but he said it would have been a mistake to take Floyd at that spot based on the Cowboys’ new defense.
“I don’t want to single a guy out, but I think that can happen when you change a system and you move from what we were doing,” Stephen Jones said, “and we were so into that and then all of a sudden you move to a 4-3 and you’ve got new coaches in the room and what they’re trying to accomplish, then that one kind of slipped through the cracks a little bit on us. It won’t happen again.”
He said the first pick of a draft needs to be a great, difference-making player on the team. It shouldn’t be a player that may not fit, even if that player can be a force in other systems.
Floyd ended up going as the No. 23 pick to the Vikings, where he finished the 2013 season with 19 combined tackles and 2.5 sacks in Minnesota’s 4-3 defense.
“You have some players that you have issues with because they don’t fit your system necessarily,” Jones said. “Even though Sharrif may have been a first-round type player in our old system, he might not have been a first-round player for what we want in our system as an under tackle. I mean, we think in our system we can find nose tackles later in the draft that do a good job. I think under tackles are hard to find, great ones are.”
A schism can occur between coaches and scouts when evaluating a player. Jones said he’s had a great couple weeks with the coaches getting into what they want from draft picks and what they need for the defense to be successful. These measures should ensure a similar situation doesn’t happen again.
“Obviously, we’ve got to take into an account that you want to take players that can be successful in any system,” Jones said. “But at the same time, how you value them and where you put them should be weighed.”