Dallas Cowboys: Senior Bowl 2014

Senior Bowl: Cowboys value all-star game

January, 23, 2014
Jan 23
MOBILE, Ala. -- The Dallas Cowboys value the offseason college all-star games, particularly the Senior Bowl.

Last year, the Cowboys drafted three players: Terrance Williams (third round), J.J. Wilcox (third round) and B.W. Webb (fourth round) who participated in the game.

In 2007, the Cowboys drafted Anthony Spencer in the first round and he played in the Senior Bowl and two years prior to that, DeMarcus Ware and Marcus Spears, former first-round picks, also played in the game.

"It's a really important game, an important week," coach Jason Garrett said. "It's our first exposure as coaches to these college players, I spent a lot of time with Tom Ciskowski and the other guys in our personnel department who have seen these guys for a year or two years and have a real comfort level with them and they educate us."

This is also the first time Cowboys' coaches and scouts get to interview some players and see them practice with NFL coaches running the sessions. This season, Jacksonville and Atlanta were the coaches who worked the players.

"Then we have an impression and we watch practice and say 'Hey who is that guy? Who is that guy? That guy looks good.' You ask questions and you challenge each other, the first exposure is an important exposure. You see them playing football, different than the combine. The combine is a great opportunity to visit with them see them move around, what they’re motor skills are how they test all those kinds of things. But this is a chance to see them in football practice."

Crazy Questions: NFL teams ask prospective draft picks all sorts of questions. The Cleveland Browns staff asked several Senior Bowl players a weird one: Name every use you can think of for a brick? The Browns asked the players to answer it in one minute. "I went for about 20-30 seconds on that one," Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said. "You think of some crazy things when you’re thinking about that that’s for sure."

Added Baylor guard Cyril Richardson: "Somebody warned me about it. I even said throw it."
MOBILE, Ala. -- Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin understands the criticism he faced last season after his unit finished last in the NFL in total defense, allowing 6,645 yards.

Kiffin said don't worry because things will improve.

"It takes time," Kiffin said after watching some of the Senior Bowl practices. "The second year in the system, the same staff. I don't know where we're going but we're going to get better."

Kiffin mentioned his 4-3 Tampa 2 scheme is employed by the Seattle Seahawks and coach Pete Carroll. The Seahawks currently have the NFL's best defense. Seattle finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in fewest points allowed, total defense and against the pass. Seattle finished tied for seventh against the run.

In Carroll's first season, under then defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, the Seahawks finished 27th in total defense allowing 5,897 total yards.

Kiffin's point is give the scheme time to develop which was the case in Seattle.

He made tweaks to it during the 2013 season by playing less zone coverage and going with man-to-man utilizing the skill sets of corners Brandon Carr, Orlando Scandrick and Morris Claiborne. Injuries to several key players, DeMarcus Ware, Jason Hatcher, Sean Lee and Claiborne forced Kiffin to mix and match his personnel at various positions.

A down year from Ware coupled with a bad season from Bruce Carter and Claiborne coupled with inconsistent play at the free safety position also hurt.

"We weren't excited about last year," Kiffin said. "But we'll get better."