There is always a certain excitement that comes with Draft Day as every team is 0-0 and set to add some brand new talent to their roster. History tends to repeat itself, however, making it increasingly valuable to look at previous draft day successes and failures of the Cowboys brain trust.
Jerry Jones has been the team's General Manager for more than 20 years, but for sake of brevity we will keep it to the last decade. Also, Stephen Jones has taken over a large bulk of the personnel type decisions over the past decade, making those picks more relevant to 2016.
Here are just a few of the incredible hits and devastating misses the Cowboys have endured during the last 15 drafts.
- 143 overall pick, 2008 NFL Draft.
Once teams reach the fifth round, the odds of finding a long term quality starter become much slimmer. Teams usually end up taking players with a certain physical skill, and then pray for the best.
Dallas found an absolute winner in the fifth round with Orlando Scandrick.
He has been the most consistent cornerback on the roster since 2013, and his loss a season ago cannot be underestimated. Expect big things out of #32 this fall.
Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State
- 24th overall pick, 2010 NFL Draft.
Dez Bryant is the perfect Cowboy. There is just something about seeing him out there in the number 88 dominating defenses that feels so right.
Bryant fell in the 2010 draft due to some off the field concerns. Mind you, Dallas had recently lost Terrell Owens after the '08 season, and the Roy Williams experiment had been a disaster. There was a clear need for a number one target in the offense.
Enter Dez Bryant.
The Cowboys took a calculated risk on Dez in the first round, and he has become everything the team could've possibly dreamed of him being. Of course, Dallas notoriously passed on Randy Moss due to some off-the-field issues, and luckily for us they did not make the same mistake twice.
The Great Wall of Dallas
Ok, I am sort of cheating with this one, but I couldn't decide on just one of the four first-round-quality players on that offensive line.
Tyron Smith kicked it all off. JJ Watt and Justin Houston may have still been on the board, but there is no way logical to second guess the selection of Smith. He has cemented himself as the best Left Tackle in football, and should hold that crown for the foreseeable future.
Travis Frederick was considered a reach by many "experts" when he was taken, but he and the organization proved every last one of them wrong. This was both a huge draft steal, and a huge hit for the Cowboys.
Then in 2014 they stayed smart, stuck to their plan of building up this Great Wall, and passed on the self-destructive Johnny Manziel in favor of All-Pro guard Zack Martin. Another fantastic draft maneuver.
La'el Collins is probably the biggest steal of them all, however. A projected top-15 pick, Collins went undrafted due to the investigation of the murder of his ex-girlfriend. Worth noting, he was not involved in the crime at all, and Dallas signed him a week after the draft. Dallas drafted three projected first round players a year ago, but Collins has arguably had the biggest impact of all three so far.
Sean Lee, Penn State
- 55th overall pick, 2010 NFL Draft.
Flashback to 2010 for a moment. Bradie James and Keith Brooking are the Cowboys Inside Linebackers and they needed a young stud to take the reigns from these two aging backers as soon as possible.
Sean Lee has been all that and so much more.
Lee slid to the Cowboys in round 2 due to injury concerns, which still remain prevalent though he did play in most of 2015. Regardless, Lee has been the Captain and the General of this defense since he entered the league.
He forces turnovers, makes what seems like every tackle, and has become one of the best Inside Linebackers in all of football. And the Cowboys drafted him in the 2nd round after already finding Dez Bryant.
DeMarcus Ware, Troy
- 11th overall pick, 2005 NFL Draft.
While each of the aforementioned "hits" have all enjoyed successful NFL careers so far, I think it is fair to say DeMarcus Ware may very well be the Jones' best draft work.
The Cowboys were coming off of a 6-10 2004 season and desperately needed a defensive playmaker to help turn a franchise that had just one winning season in the new millennium around. They got exactly that in Ware.
DeMarcus went on to tally 117 sacks over his nine year stay in Dallas, en route to what has become a first ballot Hall-of-Fame-worthy career.
Ironically, the word is that Parcells actually wanted to draft Shawn Merriman here, but Jerry overruled him and decided to take Ware. Good call, Jerry.
Bobby Carpenter, Ohio State
- 18th overall pick, 2006 NFL Draft
The Bobby Carpenter pick wouldn't be as awful had he just been taken in a later round. But 18th overall, with Antonio Cromartie and Tamba Hali still on the board? Oh, what could've been.
In four seasons, Carpenter did not start in a single game for the Cowboys. He recorded only 96 tackles and 3.5 sacks, and failed to receive a second contract. Tamba Hali could've been a Cowboy! Ugh.
- 22nd overall pick, 2008 NFL Draft.
Let me first say, I really liked Felix Jones. Every once in a while he showed flashes of his home run speed that could strike fear in any defense. When Felix had the ball, Dallas had a chance to score.
The problem was, he didn't stay healthy enough to get the ball too often. Jones failed to have a season where he had 200 carries or reached 1,000 yards during his five year stay in Dallas.
Julius Jones had recently departed and the team thought Felix Jones could be the lightening to Marion Barber's thunder. Unfortunately, both players fizzled out of the league rather soon after the '08 draft, and the Cowboys never got to see the full potential of them together.
To add insult to injury, Dallas missed out on Chris Johnson, who was still on the board.
The Morris Claiborne Trade
Look, Morris Claiborne started to turn things around a season ago. He was able to stay relatively healthy and play some solid football. I am glad the team was able to retain him for another season, and I certainly hope he can continue to improve for his sake, and the sake of the team.
My problem with the move has more to do with what Dallas gave up, who was still on the board, and when they drafted Mo.
Drafted 6th overall in 2012, Claiborne has had nothing short of a shaky career here in Dallas. The Cowboys gave up their first round pick, 14th overall, and their second rounder to move up for Mo. They left David DeCastro, Luke Kuechly, Mark Barron, and Michael Brockers all on the board.
To make matters even worse, their 2nd round pick could've been used on Bobby Wagner. Wagner and Lee together would have been magical.
While this trade was certainly a dark spot on Jerry Jones' General Manager status, it hopefully wont deter the team from taking a defensive back in the top 10 during future drafts (Jalen Ramsey, please).
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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