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July 31, 2013

Garrett says Cowboys had 'huge discussion' before they drafted converted safety J.J. Wilcox: 'Can he do this?'

As the Cowboys had a chance to draft safety J.J. Wilcox, they thought to themselves: Should we do this?

“We drafted a guy in the third round who was a running back all until last year in college,” coach Jason Garrett said. “That was a huge discussion we had before we drafted him – can he really do this, can he really make this transition?”

The Cowboys decided to bet on it, and Wilcox – an offensive-turned-defensive player at Georgia Southern – is making the third-round pick look like a good investment. He has gotten the Cowboys’ attention with his hitting and aggressiveness. This week, he took first-team snaps when starter Barry Church had to have tooth surgery.

“At all turns, he seems to be a really aware football player,” Garrett said. “He’s learninig. He’s got physical traits both to defend the run and play the back end. He’s the kind of guy you like to coach because he loves football and plays hard.”

Wilcox remembers the adjustment. He had to go from running back to safety, erasing three years of offensive habits.

“Looking at it from a defensive perspective, that was the biggest adjustment for me,” he said. “I had to stay extra. Film room, I was in there before the coaches and after the coaches, just trying to catch up, being a senior defensive back, trying to get drafted and noticed by NFL scouts. So I had to put in a lot of extra work. And my teammates and coach back in college did a great job with that.”

-- Carlos Mendez

Twitter @calexmendez

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