Around this time of year, there are always fans that overstate or understate the commitment of their team to draft certain types of players. This is due to the frustration felt by the fans of the 31 teams who did NOT win the previous Super Bowl, and by our own faulty memories. We tend to judge front offices too harshly or too lightly based on their recent success in the post-season, not on their actual success in drafting good players.
Since Cowboys fans have much to be frustrated about, before we get into the full swing of the criticism that is bound to come in May due to the fact that the Cowboys cannot draft enough players to fill every need, and even if they did, the likelihood of drafting successfully at each position is exceedingly low, I think it would be a good idea to look at the FACTS of how the Cowboys have drafted players since Jerry Jones bought the team 25 years ago.
1st round – 24 picks
Defense – 15 picks
- 6 DL – Russell Maryland, Kelvin Pritchett, Shante Carver, Greg Ellis, Ebenezer Ekuban, Marcus Spears
- 4 LB – Robert Jones, DeMarcus Ware, Bobby Carpenter, Anthony Spencer
- 5 DB – Kevin Smith, Roy Williams, Terrence Newman, Mike Jenkins, Morris Claiborne
Offense – 9 picks
- 2 OL – Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick
- 2 WR – Alvin Harper, Dez Bryant
- 1 TE – David LaFleur
- 2 RB – Emmitt Smith, Felix Jones
- 2 QB - Troy Aikman, Steve Walsh
2nd Round – 30 picks
Defense – 10 picks
- 1 DL – Kavika Pittman
- 6 LB – Dixon Edwards, Darren Smith, Randall Godfrey, Kevin Burnett, Sean Lee, Bruce Carter
- 3 DB – Darren Woodson, Dwayne Goodrich, Tony Dixon
Offense – 20 picks
- 8 OL – Steve Wisniewski, Larry Allen, Shane Hannah, Flozell Adams, Solomon Page, Andre Gurode, Al Johnson, Jacob Rogers,
- 4 WR – Alexander Wright, Jimmy Smith, Kevin Williams, Antonio Bryant
- 4 TE – Kendall Watkins, Anthony Fasano, Martellus Bennett, Gavin Escobar
- 3 RB – Daryl Johnston, Sherman Williams, Julius Jones
- 1 QB – Quincy Carter
3rd round – 31 picks
Defense – 17 picks
- 7 DL – Rhondy Weston, Jimmie Jones, Darren Benson, Mike Ulafale, Willie Blade, Jason Hatcher, Tyrone Crawford
- 4 LB – Godfrey Miles, Dexter Coakley, Dat Nguyen, Jason Williams
- 6 DB – Clayton Holmes, Mike Middleton, Charlie Williams, Kenny Wheaton, Derek Ross, J.J. Wilcox
Offense – 14 picks
- 10 OL – Mark Stepnoski, James Richards, Erik Williams, James Brown, George Hegamin, Clay Shiver, Steve Scifres, Stephen Peterman, James Marten, Robert Brewster
- 2 WR – Stepfret Williams, Terrance Williams
- 1 TE – Jason Witten
- 1 RB – DeMarco Murray
- 0 QB
If we stop for a moment to consider that the first 3 rounds are considered the premium picks, we can look at some of the Cowboys’ tendencies: The Cowboys tend to draft for defense in the first round, and then offense in the second round. The third round leans slightly toward defense, but is more even overall. Also, the Cowboys have tended to draft for D linemen in rounds 1 & 3, and O linemen in rounds 2 & 3.
The Cowboys have had very little success drafting for defensive backs in the 2nd & 3rd rounds, while all of their 1st round DB’s have become starters in the NFL. The Cowboys have had very good success finding linebackers in rounds 2 & 3.
Looking at it from an overall standpoint, the Cowboys have had a total of 85 picks in the first 3 rounds in the 25 years since Jerry Jones bought the team – 10 more than the average NFL team which has had 75 picks in that time. Considering that the Cowboys traded away three 1st round picks for WR’s Joey Galloway and Roy Williams, they’ve still had an above average chance to pick “premium” players. Just looking at these 85 premium picks, here is how the picks have been used by position in the first 3 rounds of the draft:
- 20 – Offensive Linemen
- 14 - Defensive Linemen
- 14 – Linebackers
- 14 – Defensive Backs
- 8 – Wide Receiver (10 if you include Joey Galloway and Roy Williams)
- 6 – Tightends
- 6 – Running Backs
- 3 – Quarterbacks
Since only 23 of the 85 picks (27%) used have been for offensive skill players, it is hard to justify the complaints that Jerry Jones is only interested in drafting flashy offensive skill players. The Cowboys have drafted almost as many offensive linemen (20) as they have offensive skill players in the last 25 years. And if you consider that Daryl Johnston was considered an honorary offensive lineman, the count is almost dead even.
Also, the distribution of how the Cowboys have drafted defensive players in the last 25 years could not be more even – 14 players for each level of the defense. So much for the accusation that the Cowboys are only interested in drafting defensive backs.
Unfortunately, the Cowboys have had very little success in the 2nd & 3rd rounds with Defensive backs, which may be why so many fans forget that the Cowboys have tried to find DB’s in the 2nd & 3rd rounds. Only Darren Woodson stands out as a success story, despite many Cowboys’ attempts.
So, having taken a look at how the Cowboys have used their premium picks; let’s take a look at the picks the Cowboys have used from the 4th round on. Here is a complete list of the starters the Cowboys have found in the later rounds:
- 1989 – Tony Tolbert (11 other players never started)**
- 1990 – Kenny Gant (1 other player never started)**
- 1991 – Leon Lett, Larry Brown (9 other players never started)**
- 1992 – (9 players never started)**
- 1993 – Ron Stone, Brock Marion (4 other players never started)**
Note: Jimmy Johnson’s record of drafting starters after the 3rd round: 6 for 40 – only 15%. Keep that in mind when you get all excited about players drafted in the later rounds.
- 1994 – 1999 (31 players never started)**
- 2000 – Mario Edwards (4 other players never started)**
- 2001 – Matt Lehr (5 other players never started)**
- 2002 – (5 players never started)**
Jerry’s record in the later rounds after Jimmy Johnson left: 2 for 47 – a dismal 4.2%.
- 2003 – Bradie James (3 other players never started)**
- 2004 – Patrick Crayton, Jacques Reeves (3 other players never started)**
- 2005 – Marion Barber, Chris Canty, Rob Petitti, Jay Ratliff (1 other player never started)**
- 2006 – Pat Watkins (4 other players never started) **
Note: Bill Parcell’s record of drafting starters after the 3rd round: 8 for 19 – a remarkable 42%!!!!
- 2007 – Doug Free, Nick Folk (4 other players never started)**
- 2008 – Orlando Scandrick (2 other players never started)**
- 2009 – (10 players never started)**
- 2010 – (4 players never started)**
- 2011 – (5 players never started)**
- 2012 (5 players never have started)**
- 2013 (3 players have never started)**
Jerry’s record of finding starters after the 3rd round since Bill Parcells left: 3 for 37 – a dismal 8.1%
Note: When I say never started, I mean they never won a starting position. The players may have started a game as an injury replacement. For example: Kyle Wilbur started a few games last year at linebacker and defensive end, but was never considered the 1st string player.
Only 19 of the 142 players the Cowboys have drafted after the 3rd round (13.3%) have become front-line starters. And many of those can only be considered marginal starters. Of those 142 players, only 7 have been to a Pro Bowl – Tony Tolbert (1x), Leon Lett (2x), Ron Stone (3x), Brock Marion (3x), Marion Barber (1x), Jay Ratliff (4x), and Nick Folk (1x).
Looking at the hit rate on picks after the 3rd round, I wouldn’t put too much stock in the Cowboys’ late round picks this coming May. Jerry has proven to be pretty inept without Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells when it comes to picking players in the later rounds.
Of all the later round players, Nick Folk is the only Pro Bowler Jerry picked on his own.
I hope this brief history helps give everyone some perspective on the upcoming draft. Good luck with your mock drafts, and don’t spend too much brain energy on trying to find starters later in the draft – unless you happen to be Bill Parcells.
2018 NFL Draft: Dallas Cowboys Meeting with Texas Safety DeShon Elliott
With more pressing needs on offense at guard and wide receiver, and defensively at DE or LB, the Cowboys' concerning lack of proven ability at safety has taken a backseat in this offseason's roster build. With the expectation that new Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard will elevate the play of the entire Cowboys' secondary, the team is doing their due diligence on safeties available in the 2018 NFL Draft - starting with Texas' DeShon Elliott.
It appears Texas S DeShon Elliott is visiting the #Cowboys today
With 63 tackles and six interceptions in his final season at Texas, Elliott took full advantage of being a starter in the Big 12 for the first time in his career, flying onto the NFL Draft scene.
Elliott is a well-balanced, average athlete with the upside to be targeted late in April's draft and make a difference.
If they had to play a game tomorrow, the Cowboys would be rolling with Jeff Heath, Xavier Woods, and Kavon Frazier at safety.
Finding an expanded role this season for Frazier should be a priority in Dallas, as should supplementing Heath and Woods with additional talent. DeShon Elliott would fit this group well, along with the Cowboys' scheme, given his range and disruptive ability.
Should Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Brown, and now Byron Jones help the Cowboys reach their full potential at CB, the Cowboys safeties will not be tested in single coverage up the field often. This is an area that Elliott was exploited in at Texas plenty of times, performing better as a true free safety or second-level player.
Continuing to add young talent at the right price is key to the Cowboys' ongoing rebuild on defense, now visiting with a local safety prospect that should be available to them in the later rounds. Texas' DeShon Elliott is officially a name to consider come draft week in Dallas.
Cowboys Draft: PSU WR DaeSean Hamilton Fits Cowboys’ “Type”
Last week, I detailed what the Cowboys tend to look for when drafting a wide receiver. In terms of a combine profile, Dallas clearly has a "type" of wide-out they like to target.
The Cowboys certainly need to upgrade their receiving corps, but with the plethora of other holes to fill, they may not be able to do so until the 3rd or 4th round. Luckily for the Cowboys, there is at least one receiver which both fits their profile and should be available early on day three.
That player is Penn State wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton.
Working on something for @InsideTheStarDC... here's the height, weight, 40 time, and 3 cone for every WR DAL has taken since 2010.
First, let's re-examine what the Cowboys like to look for. As you can see from the above graphic, the Cowboys draft targets all seem to fit a similar profile. If we treat Dez Bryant as their "ideal" draft pick, the trends become even clearer. Dallas wants to find a wide-out who is about 6'1" 205 pounds, runs nearly a 4.5 40 yard dash, and about a 6.9 three come time.
DeaSean Hamilton, coincidentally, is 6'1" 203 pounds, ran a 4.47 40 yard dash at the Penn State pro day, and ran a 6.84 three cone at the combine. Penn State's all time receptions leader stole the show at the 2018 Senior Bowl, putting all of "Draft Twitter" on notice to his talent.
An efficient and smooth route runner, Hamilton looks natural coming in and out of breaks, creating separation with his precise routes. The Cowboys don't have many receivers on their roster who can win with their route running, and adding a player like Hamilton would greatly help third year quarterback Dak Prescott moving forward.
With the ability to play in the slot, as well as potentially being a Z receiver for the Cowboys and a replacement for Terrance Williams, Hamilton would be an excellent draft target in the third or fourth round. And, keeping in mind how nicely he fits their typical draft profile, I'd expect Dallas to target Hamilton during the 2018 NFL Draft.
Dallas Cowboys Mock Drafts Address Needs at 3 Different Positions
"Tier two" of NFL Free Agency is here, meaning the Dallas Cowboys can set their sights on adding depth and filling the holes left by departed FAs Anthony Hitchens and Jonathan Cooper.
It may take another week for mock drafts to reflect the losses of both starters by the Cowboys, but the ongoing draft process does not slow down at any point. A few of the names the Cowboys will bring in for pre-draft 30 visits have already been released, and this week's roundup of national mock drafts continues to address the overall needs on this Dallas roster.
CBS Sports: Calvin Ridley, WR - Alabama
"Ridley's stock is down after an unimpressive combine, but the Cowboys decided to use one of their predraft visits on the talented wideout, who might not fall any further than this pick. Considering wide receiver is one of the team's biggest needs, they could jump at the chance to draft Ridley, who could eventually take over the No. 1 role if the Cowboys move on from Dez Bryant next offseason, which would save them more than $12 million on the cap."
The Dallas Cowboys will be meeting with free agent WR Allen Hurns today, a tangible second receiver that could immediately upgrade Terrance Williams' position. Hurns, unlike the lesser-known pass catchers the Cowboys looked at previously in free agency, may have enough talent entering his fifth season to take Calvin Ridley out of consideration in the first round.
For now, Ridley should absolutely remain in the conversation as this draft's top receiver. Frequently finding his way to the Cowboys in many post-Combine mock drafts, the Alabama star is just getting started in reaching his football potential and becoming an option for Dak Prescott on the outside.
Draft Wire: Vita Vea, DT - Washington
"Vea could realistically go higher than No. 19, but there may not be a ton of teams willing to draft a nose tackle early on in the draft. Vea’s much different from the average nose tackle, though, which is something the Cowboys would see firsthand if they were to pick him."
The hype for Vita Vea as a prospective Dallas Cowboys target has died down ever since Stephen Jones mentioned the team's preference to find 1T DTs with the traits to also rush the passer as a 3T. Simply being "different from the average nose tackle," as Infante writes here, may not be enough for Vea to be selected at 19th overall by the Cowboys.
Should the Cowboys be surprisingly wiped out at both guard and linebacker on their board, considering a rare prospect like Vea and the impact he could make in Rod Marinelli's scheme could become much more realistic though.
An investment like Vea at nose tackle feels like the safest way for the Cowboys to protect their franchise tag investment on DE DeMarcus Lawrence - while also potentially boosting the play of Maliek Collins and David Irving inside at DT.
Drafttek: Isaiah Wynn, G - Georgia
"... Isaiah Wynn played LOT for the SEC Champion and National Champion runner-up Georgia Bulldogs. Bill O'Brien's South coaching staff moved Wynn inside and he was easily the most impressive interior OL prospect during practice sessions..."
This would be one of the highest value picks the Dallas Cowboys could make at 19th overall. As it stands today, this team is in need of a starting left guard they can trust, which Isaiah Wynn can be from day one at the next level.
Despite their clear need up front, using another first round pick on an offensive lineman will surely generate some eyes rolls around Dallas on draft night. As if his mauling style of play and NFL-ready build aren't enough for the Cowboys to sell their fans on Wynn, his flexibility to provide needed depth at OT puts this Georgia product over the top.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
Recent trades by the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills to shake up the draft order may just be scratching the surface for the run of quarterbacks that takes place annually atop each draft. With as many as five QBs coming off the board prior to the Cowboys' first pick, their ability to add a quality starter at a position of need looks good.
Exactly what these positions of need will be by the end of free agency, and which prospects fill needs in Dallas, will update weekly as we continue to prepare you for the 2018 NFL Draft here at Inside The Star.
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