"It is now the post-Witten era in Dallas and unless a tight end on the roster emerges this season, the position could be high on the wish list next offseason. His athleticism makes Fant an appealing up-and-coming prospect."
It may seem premature to some to start looking at what the Cowboys will need next season, but one of the reasons I think Jerry Jones has repeatedly failed as a General Manager is that he is more of a fan of what's going on right now, rather than a forward-looking planner.
Hopefully, Stephen Jones is paying attention to what is happening in college right now, and already thinking about next season.
One of the important things to look at when planning for the future is how personnel moves will impact the Salary CAP, and how current contractual commitments limit options. As much as fans like to talk about certain college players with whom they are enamored, the reality is that the commitments teams have already made are going to influence the decisions they make on draft day.
This is the first article in a series of five articles which will look at the Dallas roster, and predict the draft priorities of the Cowboys in 2015.
With an eye on how current players impact the Salary CAP, and their current level of play, let's look at the current Cowboys roster, and find out where the holes in 2015 will be, and where the prior commitments will likely lead them away from certain players. This first article will deal with the offensive skill positions.
Tony Romo is in the first year of his 6 year, $108 million contract extension. While some think paying him an average of $18 million is a waste of money, the reality is that this is probably going to prove to be a bargain basement type of deal for an experienced starting QB.
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Brandon Weeden is in the first year of a two-year minimum salary contract. Although he is 30 years old, this former 1st round pick from 2012 has few miles on his football odometer, and his strong arm and low salary make him a keeper for the next two seasons.
Dustin Vaughan surprised a lot of us when the Cowboys kept him on the final roster after training camp. One of three undrafted free agents to make the team out of camp (Davon Coleman and Tyler Patmon were the other two), the Cowboys must see something they like in Vaughan to use a roster spot for him. Like Weeden, Vaughan is on a minimum contract, making the backup QB spot a bargain for the Cowboys for the next couple of years.
[su_box title="Conclusions - Quarterbacks" style="glass" box_color="#002b5c" radius="2"]Unless Romo’s back completely gives out, the Cowboys are committed to him for at least another 3 seasons. They have zero incentive to spend a high draft pick to find Romo’s eventual successor in the 2015 draft. Also, they already have a former 1st round pick with NFL experience, plus a developmental prospect playing backup QB. So, even spending a low round pick on a quarterback seems unlikely.
With a scheduled $17.5 million salary in 2015, and a $27.8 million CAP charge, it is almost a guarantee that the Cowboys will restructure Romo’s contract in 2015 to make room to re-sign other young offensive stars such as Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray.[/su_box]
STARTING RUNNING BACK
DeMarco Murray is poised to have a career year. I know that some will blame his upcoming season on this being a contract year for him. I’ve never believed that players perform better in contract years. The NFL graveyard is littered with the dead careers of many, many players who were duds in their “contract years.” The real reason that Murray will have a career year is that the Cowboys have finally put a decent offensive line in front of him. Combine that with Romo’s recovering back, and the Cowboys will lean heavily on Murray. I expect him to have at least 1,600 yards from scrimmage, and he might approach 2,000 total yards.
The issue for the Cowboys is that in 2015, Murray will be a free agent. If Murray believes the Cowboys are committed to the run, it is likely they will be able to keep him, but it will cost some money to do so. This means the Cowboys will need to make some cuts in other areas on the team.
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BACK-UP RUNNING BACKS
Joseph Randle is the primary back-up running back who would fill in for Murray if he were to get injured. I was against drafting Randle in 2013, hoping instead that the Cowboys would consider Zac Stacy or Latavius Murray. But Randle has played with more power this year than in his rookie season. He is actually a very good scheme fit for the zone blocking style of offense the Cowboys like to play. Randle is also a very valuable member of the special teams coverage units. He is still under contract for 3 more seasons.
Lance Dunbar is considered by many to be the stereotypical “change-of-pace” back. Tom Landry is actually the one who invented the idea of a 3rd down running back specialist in the late 70’s. When Tony Dorsett took over the starting running back position, Landry created a specialist role for Preston Pearson as an excuse to get him on the field.
But, if you harken back to the days of Emmitt Smith, you realize that a good running team doesn’t actually need a “change-of-pace” back if they have a primary running back that can block and catch passes, too. Murray is that type of running back, which makes Dunbar less valuable. Also, Dunbar is in the final year of his rookie contract.
Ryan Williams was a 2nd round pick of the Cardinals and is currently on the Practice Squad. Many fans liked the way he ran the ball in preseason, but Williams' lack of development in his pass protection blocking skills, his late preseason injury, plus his uselessness on special teams convinced the Cowboys to make him their final cut back in August. If Williams can use this year to improve his blocking and also begin to contribute on special teams, look for him to challenge Dunbar for a roster spot in 2015.
[su_box title="Conclusions - Running Backs" style="glass" box_color="#002b5c" radius="2"]DeMarco Murray will be a priority Free Agent for the Cowboys to sign in 2015. With Murray having such a great year so far, the Cowboys will need to come to the table with a generous offer to keep him. Using Marshawn Lynch and LeSean McCoy’s contracts as a guide, the Cowboys will need to offer him between $7.5 – 9 million per year, over a 4-5 year contract. Don’t be surprised if the Cowboys offer Murray a 5 year, $40 million contract.
If this happens, then the Cowboys will not be using a high pick on a running back in 2015. And it is unlikely they need to use a low pick on a running back either. Ryan Williams gives them the leverage to resign Dunbar cheaply, or just promote Williams.[/su_box]
STARTING TIGHT END
Jason Witten is still considered one of the premier tight ends in the NFL. I believe that will change in 2014. Witten is now 32 years old, and is entering his 12th season in the NFL. With the emergence of DeMarco Murray, and the hiring of Scott Linehan, expect Witten’s number to drop dramatically in 2014. If Witten gets 50 catches this year for over 400 yards, I will be surprised.
Witten is still under contract for another 4 seasons, but is in the 4th year of his 7 year contract. Because of his high profile as a leader of the team, it is unlikely that the Cowboys will cut him in 2015. But after 2015, the Cowboys will likely release Witten as his production continues to fall.
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BACK-UP TIGHT ENDS
Gavin Escobar is not Jason Witten. But he can be the equivalent of Jay Novacek for the Cowboys. Like Escobar, Novacek was a long lanky slow-footed tight end who was not good at blocking. Nevertheless, he was vital to the Cowboys success in the early 90’s. Escobar might never reach the Hall of Fame level that Cowboys fans have become accustomed to with Witten, but don’t be surprised if he becomes the Cowboy's starter in 2016.
James Hanna is the epitome of a journeyman backup player; the type of player every decent team needs for depth. Hanna is not only a decent blocker in the run game, but is a valuable member of the Special Teams units. In the 3rd year of a 4 year contract, expect Hanna to play out his rookie deal. This is how 6th round draft picks should be used.
[su_box title="Conclusions - Tight Ends" style="glass" box_color="#002b5c" radius="2"]The Cowboys are pretty set at tight end for the next two seasons. Don’t expect them to be using a draft pick in 2015 on another tight end. While the Cowboys will undoubtedly sign some rookie free agents for training camp, they have no pressing need at this position. And with Scott Linehan calling the plays, expect the tight end position to be de-emphasized in the overall scheme of the Cowboys attack.[/su_box]
STARTING WIDE RECEIVERS
Dez Bryant, many fans are worried that the Cowboys failure to resign Dez Bryant to a multiyear contract extension prior to the start of the season will cause the Cowboys to lose their most talented player in 2015. That worry is misplaced. Both the Cowboys and Bryant are committed to keeping the star wide receiver in Dallas for the foreseeable future. So, even though Bryant is ostensibly a free agent after this season, he’s not going anywhere. If all else fails, the Cowboys will use the franchise tag to keep him in Dallas; but, with both sides wanting to get a deal done, this probably won’t be necessary.
Terrance Williams. Those who know me know how heavily I was campaigning for the Cowboys to pick Williams with their 2nd round pick in 2013. Fortunately, the Cowboys were still able to get him in the 3rd round, and his emergence allowed them to move on from the disastrous contract they gave the always overrated Miles Austin.
One of the big reasons I was so strongly in favor of drafting Williams (aside from the fact he led the nation in receiving yards) was his tenacity at blocking downfield. Keep an eye out for Williams when Murray is running the ball, and you’ll see that he’s already developed into one of the better blocking wide receivers in the NFL. Personally, I believe that Williams is in for a long career with the Cowboys, and is an ideal compliment to Bryant.
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BACK-UP WIDE RECEIVERS
Cole Beasley is the Cowboys version of a Wes Welker or Danny Amendola. Although small, he seems to be able to stay healthy and has a knack for making first downs whenever he touches the ball. His quickness allows him to get immediate separation, and as Witten’s touches decline, expect Beasley to become more and more of a safety blanket for Romo in 2014. Beasley is in the last year of his contract, so if he plays exceptionally well, the Cowboys are in danger of losing him in 2015 to free agency. However, with only 3 years in the league, Beasley will be a restricted free agent, giving the Cowboys the right to match offers other teams might make.
Devin Street is a tall, lanky talented rookie. If the Cowboys lose Beasley in 2015, Street could step in as the 3rd receiver, with Dez Bryant moving in to the slot position in 3 wide receiver sets.
Dwayne Harris, like Beasley, is in the last year of his contract, and is eligible to be become an unrestricted free agent in 2015. Although he sits below Beasley on the depth chart, Harris may be more valuable to the team because of his return skills. Expect the Cowboys to try to resign Harris in 2015. But also expect him to get some interest from other teams.
[su_box title="Conclusions - Wide Receivers" style="glass" box_color="#002b5c" radius="2"]With 3 of their top 5 receivers scheduled to be free agents in 2015, it is highly likely the Cowboys will lose at least one of them. Beasley will get a qualifying offer, and a raise in 2015. But given the NFL’s general hesitancy to sign restricted free agents, I expect Beasley to be back. On the other hand, the Cowboys might allow Harris to walk. If they do, then expect them to target a kick returner in the mid to late rounds as a replacement for Harris.
I would keep an eye on the talented college kick returners this year to see who the Cowboys might target with their 4th through 6th round picks in 2015.
As for Bryant, restructuring Romo’s contract will give the Cowboys plenty of room to resign him next year. One of the likely reasons the Cowboys were unable to sign Bryant to a contract extension this offseason was because of the success they had signing Tyron Smith to a long-term deal. Smith’s contract ate up the available CAP space, and the Cowboys needed to keep some CAP room in 2014 in case they need it for replacement players if and when other players get injured. But Bryant will command – and will get – a contract which rewards him as one of the best 5 receivers in the NFL. Jerry Jones has never shied away from paying his stars, and Bryant will be no exception.
Bryant may not get the $16.2 million per season that Calvin Johnson earns, but he will sign for more than the $12 million per season that Miami paid Mike Wallace. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Cowboys give Bryant a 7 year, $105 million contract at an average of $15 million per season – right behind what Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald make. Keep an eye on contract extension negotiations for both A.J. Green and Julio Jones. Both of those players are up for contract extensions in 2015, and someone is going to set the market price.[/su_box]
2015 FREE AGENT & DRAFT OUTLOOK
The Cowboys can create about $30 million in CAP space next season with a very few strategic moves.
The big free agent signings in 2015 will be at Wide Receiver and Running Back. The Cowboys will likely spend a big chunk of money locking up Murray and Bryant in long-term contracts. The Cowboys prepared for the need to sign Murray and Bryant by releasing Ware last season, and not offering a new contract to Hatcher.
The only significant losses the Cowboys can expect in their offensive skill positions are Lance Dunbar and Dwayne Harris. With Ryan Williams waiting in the wings, and the development of Randle, I don’t expect the Cowboys to spend any draft picks on a running back, but they could use a late round pick on one if a talented player drops to them - or if Randle's off the field issues continue.
On the other hand, I think the Cowboys will actively target a kick returner in the 2015 draft. Harris fans may not like it, but spending a mid to late round draft pick on a replacement returner is a better use of resources than signing Harris to an overpriced contract.
The Cowboys could choose a defensive back or running back with very good kick return skills. But they will likely target a wide receiver with kick return skills, because that fills two needs with one player.
2015 Draft Need – Kick Returner/Wide Receiver – target rounds 4-7
2015 Draft Option – Back-up Running Back – target rounds 6-7 or undrafted free agent
Looking Ahead to 2019 NFL Mock Drafts, a Pass Catching Theme Persists
The Dallas Cowboys haven't played the 2018 NFL season yet, but that shouldn't stop us from looking ahead to the 2019 NFL Draft and seeing what players the team will have their eye on this fall.
With the NFL season fast approaching, that means the college football season is as well, and as we look through these mocks, perhaps you get an idea of whom to watch with a Cowboys perspective this fall.
I scoured the internet looking for the best and brightest minds and their "way too early 2019 mocks." As I perused the mocks, one thing was clear. Many of the national writers see the Dallas Cowboys going with an offensive pass catcher in the 2019 NFL Draft. Namely a TE.
TE Noah Fant, Iowa
Noah Fant, from the University of Iowa, will be a junior in his 2019 season and as a sophomore caught 30 passes for 494 yards (16.5 yards per reception) and 11 touchdowns. The receptions and yardage may not look all that impressive, but if we think about Iowa's offense in the Big 10, we can understand that he's not going to get many opportunities to catch the ball when the team is running it as often as they do.
In fact, the Hawkeyes ran the ball 10 more times per game than they threw it and their quarterback only completed - on average - 15 passes a game.
Fant accounted for 21% of the receiving yards on the season and 42% of the passing touchdowns. He was only 36 yards away from leading the team in receiving despite catching 21 fewer passes than leader Nick Easley. No other pass catcher for Iowa had more than four receiving touchdowns.
If there's something not to like at the moment about Fant, it's his size.
At the moment, College Football Reference has him listed at 232 pounds. There are running backs that weigh more than Fant does and he'll probably need to add about 10-20 pounds in the NFL to be an effective in-line blocker.
Mocked to the Dallas Cowboys by Dane Brugler of The Draft Show on DallasCowboys.com. In a mock draft he did for Sports Day DFW and the Dallas Morning News, he had this to say.
Dane Brugler - Sports Day DFW, Dallas Morning News
Eric Galko of The Sporting News selected the Iowa tight end to the Cowboys as well, seeing him as a special prospect that has the chance to fill the shoes of Jason Witten.
Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington also had Noah Fant to the Cowboys, thinking they are in need of a Jason Witten replacement.
DE Austin Bryant, Clemson
Depending on what Dallas can get out of Right Defensive Ends Tyrone Crawford, Randy Gregory, Dorance Armstrong, and Charles Tapper, it could have the Cowboys taking a defensive end in the first round for the second time in three years.
Will Brinson's mock doesn't offer much analysis on Bryant, mostly saying that Clemson is going to be good. But here's what Draftek.com's Brett Clancy, who covers the 49ers, had to say about Bryant:
"Clemson's Austin Bryant is the 4th EDGE off the board in this mock and 2nd from his school, but he's still well worth a mid-round pick. Bryant broke out with 8.5 sacks as a junior last year and many thought he'd go pro. I like Bryant's move to stay in school and refine his game, specifically growing a repertoire of pass rush moves to complement his strong edge-setting ability."
Brett Clancy - Draftek.com
Bryant was amazingly disruptive for the Clemson Tigers as a junior, racking up 50 total tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, and 8.5 sacks. At 6-5 265, he could come in and play right defensive end for the Dallas Cowboys on day one.
DT Raekwon Davis, Alabama
We know that the Dallas Cowboys have an affinity for Power 5 prospects and Jason Garrett goes back with Nick Saban.
Despite that relationship, it hasn't led to many Alabama players being selected by the Dallas Cowboys. Perhaps, that should tell us something.
One other factor that could be in play with Davis is dependent upon who the defensive coordinator is in 2019. We all know that Rod Marinelli doesn't place premium draft value on defensive tackles, but prefers to find diamonds in the rough to develop.
If Kris Richard takes over as the defensive coordinator in 2019, the story could be a bit different. Seattle, with Richard at the defensive helm, selected defensive tackles in the second round of the 2016 and 2017 NFL Drafts.
If the Dallas Cowboys are going to spend a first on a defensive tackle, this is the guy to do it on.
He was highly productive as a sophomore for the Crimson Tide, racking up 69 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. He also had one interception that was returned for 19 yards. At 6-7 306 pounds, he has the size and frame to be an immediate impact player on the Dallas Cowboys interior.
If the Dallas Cowboys choose not to resign David Irving in the 2018 offseason and Maliek Collins doesn't take a step forward, then Davis becomes a real possibility.
Here's what Draftek's Cowboys analyst had to say about Raekwon Davis.
"Alabama's Raekwon Davis has played both DT and DE in the Crimson Tide's 3-man line. He can maintain his gaps against the run when needed, but his primary skill set is using his long arms and strong lower body to use a variety of pass rush moves to win with power and speed.
"One red flag on Davis happened 8/27/17: he was struck in the leg by a stray bullet during the wee hours of Sunday morning at a Tuscaloosa bar (Bar 17) where several shootings have occurred over the past few years. Despite HC Jason Garrett's affinity for Nick Saban coached players, this incident might remove him from the Dallas board."
Long Ball - Dratek.com
Interestingly, Draftek did a second round in this mock and they sent Boston College Safety Lukas Denis to the Dallas Cowboys.
S Jaquan Johnson, Miami
Speaking of safeties, Dan Kadar over at SBNation sent one to the Dallas Cowboys in the form of Jaquan Johnson.
Johnson, from the University of Miami, was very productive in his junior season for the Hurricanes, racking up 96 total tackles, three tackles for loss, a sack and four interceptions. He returned one of those interceptions for a touchdown.
Here are Kadar's thoughts on the second team All-ACC player:
"There was a lot of talk during the draft that the Cowboys were in talks to trade for Earl Thomas. If they want to address safety next draft, Johnson was a second-team all-conference player who some thought would go pro."
Dan Kadar - SB Nation
Obviously, this pick will depend on what happens with Earl Thomas over the next nine months and the development of Xavier Woods, but Johnson will be a name to watch for teams that need a safety.
WR Ahmmon Richards, Miami
Another Hurricane to have on your NFL Draft radars is Wide Receiver Ahmmon Richard, who is going into his junior season at Miami.
The Dallas Cowboys have begun the process of overhauling their wide receiver corp with the departures of Dez Bryant and Brice Butler in the 2018 offseason. In 2019, it's likely that Terrance Williams (contract) and Cole Beasley (age) could be next to go.
That would leave them with Michael Gallup, Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin, Deonte Thompson, Noah Brown, and Cedric Wilson as their WR depth chart. It's certainly a solid group, but adding a talent like Richards could help.
The Draft Wire's Luke Easterling believes, "Richards would be another great addition with impressive size and speed."
In two seasons at Miami, Richards has averaged 18.8 yards per reception, and 68.65 yards per game. He's got deep-threat ability which would combine well with Gallup and Hurns.
WR Collin Johnson, Texas
If Richards doesn't do it for you, then lets head a couple of hours south of Dallas to the University of Texas and Wide Receiver Collin Johnson.
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller has the Dallas Cowboys going with the junior wide receiver and had this to say:
"The Dallas Cowboys made interesting moves at wide receiver in the 2018 draft—trading Ryan Switzer to Oakland, acquiring Tavon Austin from Los Angeles, not selecting a receiver early—and will head into the upcoming season with a need for a playmaker down the field. Texas' Collin Johnson at 6'6" can be the downfield weapon and red-zone nightmare the Cowboys so badly want.
"Johnson does need to improve upon his production from the last two seasons and prove to scouts he can run well enough to separate from NFL defenders, but his size and hands are already getting buzzed about as teams prepare for the upcoming college season."
Matt Miller - Bleacher Report
I'll agree with Miller that Johnson will need to increase upon his production. Some believe that the quarterback limitations in Austin have been a factor, but at the moment, I'm leery of taking a wide receiver from the Big 12 that doesn't have excellent production in the first round of the draft.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
It's obvious from these mock drafts that analysts see the Dallas Cowboys continuing to invest in pass catchers for their offense and that is a reasonable thought.
Obviously, a lot will change between now and next April when the Dallas Cowboys go on the clock, but this gives us a bit of insight on who to watch in this upcoming college football season.
What names will you be watching in college football this season?
Does Marquez White Assault Charge Alter Cowboys Plan in Supplemental Draft?
Last night, it was reported that Dallas Cowboys Cornerback Marquez White has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The incident comes from a traffic confrontation that took place back in October, where White -- according to his camp -- was justified in drawing his weapon for self-defense.
A promising young player that stuck on the Cowboys practice squad in his rookie season, the sixth round pick doesn't need this case hanging over his head as training camp approaches. When considering the timing up against this week's supplemental draft, and the rare crop of defensive back talent available in it, White could soon be fighting for relevance on the Cowboys roster.
Becoming complacent in building one of the best young secondaries in the league won't be an issue for the Cowboys under new Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard. The Cowboys were relying on White to be a depth option behind projected starters Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, and Jourdan Lewis.
White's spot on the depth chart may very well hold up, but by the end of the week he could also have added competition in Adonis Alexander or Sam Beal.
Respectively, the former Virginia Tech and Western Michigan cornerbacks are two of the most talented supplemental prospects to enter the draft in years -- both likely to be the first players drafted since 2015.
Alexander and Beal are also joined by Mississippi State Safety Brandon Bryant as another backup option for Dallas.
A lengthy cornerback with the toughness to play on the boundary, Alexander is a similar player to White, and one that Richard should love for his physical traits. Whether or not this natural skill outweighs some maturity issues that saw Alexander fall from freshman starter to suspended at VT will determine if the Cowboys feel comfortable sending away a 2019 draft pick for his services.
Where Alexander's career leaves his arrow trending downward on the eve of the supplemental draft, Beal is a rising prospect that some are calling the best to ever enter this draft.
An all-conference cornerback as a Junior out of Western Michigan, Beal improved with each passing college season, determined to finish out his degree along the way. However, once Beal's eligibility for his Senior season was called into question, the feisty 6'1" CB decided to turn towards the NFL.
Beal's professional football faith is now in the hands of any team that's done their homework on him. Projected to be taken as early as the third round, teams impressed by Beal's tape could be giving away a premium pick in next year's draft to add him just before training camp.
Should this team be the Cowboys, Beal's presence would put more than just White on notice. The Cowboys are also expecting corners like Duke Thomas and Kam Kelly to fight for roster spots. In a perfect world, say the one the Cowboys were living in yesterday before this White news broke, Thomas or Kelly could replace White on the practice squad as the Florida State product took another jump in Oxnard.
As I've written before though, teams must be relentless in their search for talent. The Cowboys have drafted well, but passed on big name free agents in recent years. The result is a young roster full of potential and ready to compete.
If either Adonis Alexander, Sam Beal, or even Brandon Bryant help them do so this year, we could be right here talking about a new Cowboys rookie in the middle of July. Marquez White would be happy to see this talk overshadow his legal situation for the moment.
This won't be the case when he's competing against another player that will likely cost the Cowboys more than the sixth round pick they invested in him two years ago.
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?
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