Defensive change has Cowboys looking at draft
IRVING, Texas – Perhaps the biggest factor in setting up the Dallas Cowboys' draft board this year is the switch from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defensive scheme. Not only do the Cowboys need to add defensive linemen but they need to add youth to their defensive front.
DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, Jay Ratliff and Jason Hatcher – the likely starting defensive line for 2013 – will all be 29 or older when the season starts.
Drafting a couple defensive linemen would make sense, after all, Jerry Jones says the Cowboys will be in this system for a while.
"Certainly we anticipate being in this scheme for quite some time," Jerry Jones said Monday during a pre-draft press conference at Valley Ranch. "It's not dissimilar [to] back before Bill Parcells was here. Bill came in and I think we were the No. 1 defensive team in the NFL the year he got here under the scheme that we were operating under, which was a 4-3 at that time. So we do know what these guys that don't have to change light bulbs look like, as Larry Lacewell used to say, as far as linebackers and their height that can run. So we've got a pretty good feel and a good base of our scouts with Tom [Ciskowski] leading the way and Stephen [Jones] having been here for years and years that know what 4-3 defensive players look like, absent the fact they're a lot bigger and a lot faster than they were maybe as far back as 10 years ago."
But the defensive line will not be the only position affected by the scheme change. Jerry Jones also mentioned it "influencing to some degree the kind of safeties" the Cowboys draft.
"The good news is we really are in good shape over on the defensive side of the ball where that scheme is by definition a little different," Jerry Jones said. "We're in good shape with our personnel."
The defensive position the owner feels best about is cornerback. According to Jerry Jones, having Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne and Orlando Scandrick already in place should make the transition easier for new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.
"These corners we got are really going to be helpful to what Monte wants to do and the way he wants to scheme our pass coverages," he said. "This is not a traditional cover 2 situation, so that we really felt great and he does that our corners are really going to be a big impact on what he does in the secondary. I really wouldn't trade our corner situation relative to what we're going to be doing defensively if we had to go back and redo it, relative to Carr relative to Claiborne."
Follow Jon Machota on Twitter: @jonmachota