Welcome back to Cowboys on the Clock! This ongoing series has been getting Cowboys Nation ready for April 28th, and the first round of the NFL Draft, by taking a look at the most recent players the team has selected in the first round with the corresponding pick to the amount of days until the draft.
The 2005 draft was a good one for Dallas, as they selected twice in the first round, and ultimately walked away with a number of long-term starters over the full seven rounds. Their first selection of the draft came with the 11th overall pick, when they scooped up some guy out of Troy named DeMarcus Ware.
They also used the 20th overall pick on a defensive linemen, this one out of LSU. Here is his story...
Spears would play in the SEC for his college career at LSU with Head Coach Nick Saban from 2001-2004. In just his second full season as a defensive player in 2003, the Tigers would go on to win the national championship over Oklahoma. Spears recorded a pick six in the Sugar Bowl win.
He would follow up this storybook season with another dominant year in 2004, entering the NFL Draft after a 49 tackle season with 17 of those coming for a loss. Adding 9 sacks, he also was a first-team All Sec player.
The Dallas Cowboys, at the time being coached by Bill Parcells, entered the 2005 draft with the 11th and 20th overall picks. Parcells wanted to take Spears with the first of these selections, but Jerry Jones and the rest of the front office agreed that Ware was a player that could not be passed up at #11.
The team would add Ware, who was named the greatest Cowboys player to ever wear #94 this summer by our Staff Writer RJ Ochoa.
The Chargers, Saints, Panthers, Chiefs, Texans, Bengals, Vikings, and Rams would all pass on Spears with picks #11 through #19, allowing Dallas to add both of their first round targets.
Despite battling through injuries in his first training camp, Spears would see time as a rotational defensive end through the early portions of the 2005 season. He would earn a job as a starter in the final 10 games, recording six QB pressures and finishing off 1 and a half sacks.
The team would switch from a 4-3 defense to the 3-4 going into the following 2006 season, where Spears again came out of training camp banged up. Still, he would start all 16 games, but fail to record more than 1 sack. His production in total tackles and tackles for loss went up, but through two seasons the LSU product had just 2.5 sacks.
The Cowboys were bounced from the playoffs in the Wild Card Round to end the 2006 season in heartbreaking fashion in Seattle against the Seahawks. The same would hold true in 2007, when a team that was expected to make a run fell to the rival Giants at home in the Divisional Playoffs.
It was a similar season for Spears as well, who totaled just 2 sacks in 15 starts. He did set career highs in pressures, tackles, and tackles for loss, which would set him up for another milestone in the 2009 season.
For the third time in Marcus' career, the Cowboys were in the playoffs. With losses in the first round in his past two appearances, the Cowboys rallied past the Philadelphia Eagles in the Divisional Round for a monumental playoff win. The fiery Spears helped lead a defense that did not surrender a rushing touchdown in that game, a first for this franchise in playoff competition.
Unfortunately for Spears, with a loss the following week at Minnesota, he would never see the playoffs again during his time in Dallas. The typically durable player would appear in just 8 games in 2010, snapping a streak of 88 consecutive games that he had set.
His limited role in 2010 would become even more limited upon the hiring of Rob Ryan prior to the 2011 season. Playing in the first year of a brand new 5 year deal, he was slated as a backup for the first time in his career. Kenyon Coleman and Jason Hatcher started at the defensive end positions.
The team would then look to transition back to a 4-3 defense after 2012, where Spears was once again playing in a reduced role. Dallas released Spears due to a knee injury, ending his Cowboys career and essentially his time as a pro.
Marcus appeared in 5 games for the Baltimore Ravens in 2013 before being waived by the team. His time in Dallas was marked by not only unmet expectations from him, but from the entire team - which won just 1 playoff game during his career despite 3 appearances.
Spears was never a superstar, but he did provide a durable and consistent presence to the Cowboys defense, while being a pivotal locker room component. In RJ's same series that named his team mate DeMarcus Ware the greatest #94 in team history, Spears was named the greatest Cowboy to ever wear #96 right here on Inside The Star.
The following players have also been selected with the 20th overall pick by the Dallas Cowboys:
Dennis Homan, WR, 1968
Homan played just two seasons in Dallas before requesting a trade. He was a member of the Super Bowl V team that lost to the Baltimore Colts.
Billy Joe DuPree, TE, 1973
DuPree led the team in receiving yards in just his rookie season. A dynamic tight end for his time, he played in Super Bowls XII, X, and XIII. Although he was a major contributor in all three games, the only one the team won was Super Bowl XII when he had a game high 66 receiving yards.
Billy DuPree never missed a game during his run in Dallas from 1973-1983.
Kelvin Pritchett, DT, 1991
Pritchett was immediately traded to the Detroit Lions on draft day following his selection by the Cowboys. In return, the team received picks that were used on Dixon Edwards, James Richards, and Tony Hill
Ebenezer Ekuban, DE, 1999
Ekuban was a disappointment in Dallas through his 5 seasons with the team, as he never developed into the bookend pass rusher across from former college team mate Greg Ellis that the Cowboys expected him to be when they traded up for him in the 1999 draft.
Cowboys on the Clock will return on Sunday with the team's most recent 18th overall pick, meaning that Inside The Star will once again go Beyond the Clock tomorrow to continue this series!
Enjoy the countdown to draft day, and share your thoughts on this piece (or any of the past editions) right here with a reply below or an email to email@example.com. You can also find me on Twitter @ShoreSportsNJ!
Have the Dallas Cowboys Overcome Their 2nd-Round Curse?
You may not be aware or maybe you've simply forgotten, but the Dallas Cowboys have struggled drafting players in the 2nd-round who can come in and contribute. Typically players drafted this highly are not only immediate contributors as a rookie, but are cornerstone players for years to come. That hasn't been the case for the Cowboys.
I don't know where you stand, but I was beginning to think the Dallas Cowboys were cursed with their 2nd-round draft picks. I know this was an area where they would gamble on players for some reason or another, but unfortunately it never really paid off. Hopefully, things are changing for the better.
Let's take a look back at past drafts to see what I'm talking about.
Past 2nd-Round Draft Picks Dating Back to 2006:
2018 Connor Williams
2017 Chidobe Awuzie
2016 Jaylon Smith
2015 Randy Gregory
2014 DeMarcus Lawrence
2013 Gavin Escobar
2012 (no selection) used to trade for Morris Claiborne
2011 Bruce Carter
2010 Sean Lee
2009 (no selection) traded out of 2nd-round
2008 Martellus Bennett
2007 (no selection) used to trade back into 1st for Anthony Spencer
2006 Anthony Fasano
You may be wondering why I decided to start all the way back in 2006. Well, I believe that's when the 2nd-round draft picks curse started for the Dallas Cowboys.
Anthony Fasano ended up having a solid career in the NFL, but he never lived up to his draft status as a former 2nd-round draft pick. The same can be said for Martellus Bennett, Gavin Escobar, and Bruce Carter. Shed a tear for them if you want, but I'd put them in the "bust" category.
The sad truth is, Sean Lee is the only 2nd-round draft pick on this list to ever see a second contract with the Dallas Cowboys. Although, I guess you can include DeMarcus Lawrence since he will be playing under the franchise tag in 2018. But, that's still not a very good hit percentage in the 2nd-round for more than a decade. Luckily, it looks as if things are changing.
DeMarcus Lawrence might end up being another "hit" for the Cowboys. It may have taken him four years to reach his potential, but there's no denying how dominant he was last season. If he can maintain that dominance this season, he could be looking at a big payday from the Cowboys.
The Dallas Cowboys took a risk on the next two players they drafted after D-Law. They knew Randy Gregory had his off the field issues, but were willing to take a chance on his talent in the 2nd-round. That has yet to pay off, but Gregory has a chance to rebound now that it looks as if he has his life back in order.
The Cowboys took another risk in the following draft when they drafted Jaylon Smith. No one knew if he would ever be able to play again after the devastating knee injury he sustained in his final collegiate game, but it's looking as if he could make a full recovery and return to his pre-injury form. Year 3 will be big for him, but he could end up being an absolute steal.
Fortunately, the Cowboys 2017 and 2018 2nd-round draft picks (Chidobe Awuzie and Connor Williams) look to be cornerstone players for years to come. That's what you're looking for in players drafted this highly.
I say all of this because it's really looking like the Dallas Cowboys have finally broken their 2nd-round curse. Maybe it's a change in draft philosophy or maybe it's because Will McClay's voice carries more weight in the draft room, but it's definitely good news for the future of the franchise. Hopefully it continues.
Do you think the Dallas Cowboys 2nd-round curse has ended?
Cowboys Draft Class: How Many Will Be Starters In 2018?
The Dallas Cowboys have been showered with praise by most national NFL media outlets for their 2018 NFL Draft class. NFL.com graded the Cowboys as having the 2nd best class in the league, and most other analysts have agreed that the team had a strong showing.
But now, of course, it's time to see what these new players will actually do on the field. Some are hoping the team found 3-5 new starters for the 2018 roster, but history would suggest that is pretty rare.
Dallas' 2016 draft class has been lauded as one of the best in the last decade, especially considering they look to have found their franchise quarterback in round four. That strong class only features four full-time starters heading into 2018, but we have to wonder if that's the outlier and not the norm.
Still, as we look back and examine this 2018 draft class it really appears they have found three day one starters in the first three rounds.
First round pick Leighton Vander Esch is expected to be the starting MIKE linebacker this season, with former second round selection Jaylon Smith moving to SAM. Vander Esch wasn't my favorite option at 19, but he is certainly starter-worthy in this Cowboys LB corps.
On day two the Cowboys added OL Connor Williams and WR Michael Gallup, two of my personal favorite picks of their entire class. Williams should be the starting LG week 1 of the season, and Michael Gallup may overtake Allen Hurns as the most productive WR on the roster by year's end.
What about the rest of the class?
Dorance Armstrong will probably have too much competition to start at defensive end this season, but he should be an interesting rotational pass rusher. TE Dalton Schultz has the chance to surprise some people, but overtaking Geoff Swaim as the "starter" would be unexpected.
After that, the player with the best chance to make the team and contribute early on might be Boise State WR Cedrick Wilson. Wilson was a late day-two, early day-three pick to me so snagging him in the sixth round should provide incredible value to this roster. That wide out room is getting very crowded, though, so Wilson has his work cut out for him heading into camp.
How many of the Cowboys' 2018 draft picks will be starters in 2018? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.
Did the Dallas Cowboys Find 4 Starters in the 2018 NFL Draft?
One of the many winners of the 2018 NFL Draft were, without a doubt, the Dallas Cowboys. Not only did they addressed some of the team's most pressing needs, but they managed to draft very talented, capable players beyond the first round.
Cowboys Nation had to feel better about the rookie class the front office walked away with, specially after the second day of the Draft. Just like last year, they managed to find steals in the second and third rounds. In 2017, they did so with Cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis. Now, they stayed put at their original picks and walked away with OL Connor Williams and WR Michael Gallup.
But first things first. In the eyes of many, Leighton Vander Esch wasn't worth the 19th overall pick. While I do agree that Vander Esch was a questionable selection, the Cowboys fixed arguably their most concerning position of all. As much as it pains to admit it, Sean Lee has yet to play an entire NFL season and Jaylon Smith was pretty much the only other capable starter on the roster.
Although Vander Esch needs to develop a ton before reaching his full potential. he's a week 1 starter and an early contributor for this defense. Whether it felt like a "reach" or not, the Cowboys took a starter in the Boise State linebacker.
Later, the Cowboys managed to add an arguably first-round talent with pick #50 to plug-and-play along the offensive line. Texas OL Connor Williams was also seen as a tackle prospect, but he'll likely start at guard for Dallas as a rookie.
Since Ron Leary left for Denver, the left guard spot hasn't been as stable. Jonathan Cooper did a decent job filling that spot, but with Williams taking his place, the Cowboys dominance in the trenches will finally return. Playing next to All-Pros Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick, Connor Williams might become the best rookie in this class for the Cowboys.
One can't simply say the team found a "replacement" for Dez Bryant since he's a special player and with a very specific skill set, but Michael Gallup from Colorado State has the potential to become the team's WR1 pretty soon.
In the team's effort to build a Dak-friendly offense, Gallup is a crafty and smooth route-runner who has what it takes to play in any spot of the offense. His skill-set will allow him to play anywhere on the field and become Dak's favorite target in a year in which Jason Witten and Dez Bryant will no longer be lining up on his squad.
Taken in the first three rounds, Vander Esch, Williams and Gallup will be unquestionable starters. The question, however, is who else could become a starter for the Cowboys? Who could line up and start in week 1?
Even though it definitely isn't as certain as the other three rookies, I'm betting on Dalton Schultz to be a more important starter than we imagine. Listen, maybe it's not an ideal scenario to have the TE from Stanford start in week 1, but it could be necessary.
The Rico Gathers Adventure might just be over before it starts and Geoff Swaim and Blake Jarwin may not be anything special. In college, Schultz was pretty good at run blocking. In the Cowboys' offense, led by one of the best running backs in the league, Ezekiel Elliott, Schultz may be able to find success earlier than expected.
Besides, he has what it takes to catch passes in the NFL and although he certainly won't be the flashiest, he could be enough to give Dak Prescott a reliable tight end.
Dalton Schultz could be the surprise of this Draft for Dallas. He'll probably become a starter at some point in the season and for a fourth-round pick, that's a very good thing to say.
For a front office that's constantly bashed by Cowboys Nation, their job at this year's NFL Draft was a pretty good one. Now it's just a matter of time to find out which picks were as good as we originally thought.
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