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Dallas Cowboys Player Profile: WR #88 Dez Bryant 1

Dez Bryant, #88

#88 Dez Bryant

Height: 6-2 Weight: 220 Age: 27
Position: Wide Receiver College: Oklahoma State
Exp: 7 Years

Desmond Demond “Dez” Bryant was born in Galveston County, Texas on November 4, 1988. He played collegiately at Oklahoma State University. He is currently a wide receiver in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys, who drafted him in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft.

Dallas Cowboys Player Profile: WR #88 Dez Bryant 1

High School

Dallas Cowboys Player Profile: WR #88 Dez Bryant 3Dez Bryant was born in Galveston County, Texas, but eventually moved to Lufkin, Texas, where he attended Lufkin High School. He excelled in both football and track and field during his high school career.

Bryant was one of the top performers in the entire state of Texas at triple jump with a career-best leap of 14.17m. He also excelled in the 110 and 300m hurdles. His best time in the 110m hurdle was 14.56 seconds and his best time the 300m hurdle was 40.70 seconds. Dez Bryant was also a member of the 4 x 100m relay team running a time of 40.62 seconds and the 4 x 200m relay running a time of 1:28.35.

Although he was a top performer in track and field events, he really made a name for himself on the football field during his time at Lufkin High School.

As a junior, he caught 48 passes for 1,025 yards and scored 16 touchdowns. He helped lead Lufkin to a 14-1 record, but eventually ended up losing to Southlake Carroll in the 5A Division II state semifinals 46-28.

In his senior year, Dez Bryant caught 53 passes for 1,207 yards and scored 21 touchdowns. He once again helped lead his team to a winning record of 11-1, but lost to Round Rock in the area round of the playoffs. He was an All-State selection and was also named All-American by Parade and SuperPrep. After the season, he participated in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl.

Dez Bryant was regarded as a four-star recruit by Rivals.com and was listed as the #9 wide receiver prospect in the class of 2007. He was the second best rated receiver behind only Terrence Tolliver in the state of Texas. He was recruited by numerous collegiate programs and took official visits to Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech, before ultimately deciding on Oklahoma State.

College/NCAA

Dallas Cowboys Player Profile: WR #88 Dez BryantDez Bryant attended Oklahoma State University from 2007 to 2009.

As a freshman, Dez Bryant played in 12 games and caught 43 receptions for 622 receiving yards and scored six touchdowns, finishing second on the team. He set a freshman record for receiving yards (155) in a game against the University of Kansas. He was also named second-team Freshman All-American.

In 2008, Dez Bryant finished the year with 87 receptions for 1,480 receiving yards and scored 19 touchdowns, including two punt returns for TDs. He earned All-American first-team honors from numerous outlets, joining running back Kendall Hunter as the first OSU sophomore position player to receive the national recognition since Thurman Thomas in 1985.

Dez Bryant was also a first-team All-Big 12 choice and finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s top wide receiver. This was in large part due to the fact he led the conference in receiving yards per game (113.9), scoring (9.7-tied for second in the nation), touchdown receptions (19), and punt return average (18.0).

As a junior, Dez Bryant was a consensus All-American, All-Big Conference first-team selection, member of the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, Maxwell Award and Biletnikoff Award Watch Lists in his final collegiate season in 2009.

He played only three games in 2009 after he was ruled ineligible the rest of the season for violating NCAA bylaw. He didn’t fully disclose his interaction with Deion Sanders, which was the reason for his NCAA violation. He was considered a possible Heisman candidate prior to his suspension.

Despite only playing three games, Bryant still finished third on the team with 17 catches for 323 yards and four touchdowns. He also had 111 yards on punt returns, including an 82 yarder that he returned for a touchdown. He finished the season with 477 all-purpose yards.

2010 NFL Draft

Dallas Cowboys Player Profile: WR #88 Dez Bryant 2Dez Bryant declared he would enter the 2010 NFL Draft on November 5, 2009. He was widely regarded as the best wide receiver in the draft class but his draft stock took a hit due to character concerns.

The Dallas Cowboys held the 27th overall draft pick, but ended up trading with the New England Patriots to select Dez Bryant with the 24th overall pick. To trade up three spots, the Dallas Cowboys sent their third round draft pick (90th overall) and received the Patriots fourth round draft pick (119th overall) in return.

NFL Career

Dallas Cowboys Player Profile: WR #88 Dez Bryant 4The Dallas Cowboys officially signed Dez Bryant to his rookie contract on July 22, 2010. The following day, on July 23, 2010 it was announced that Dez Bryant would wear number 88, the same jersey number that Hall of Famer Michael Irvin and Cowboys legend Drew Pearson wore during their playing days.

Dez Bryant’s first official touchdown in the NFL came on a 31-yard pass from quarterback Tony Romo on October 17, 2010. His rookie season was officially cut short when he had to be placed on injured reserve after fracturing his ankle returning a kickoff against the Indianapolis Colts.

He finished his rookie season with 45 catches for 561 yards and six receiving touchdowns. He also returned two punts for touchdowns, including a 93 yarder, averaged 14.3 yards per punt return and 24.4 yards per kickoff return.

In 2011, Dez Bryant would start opposite Miles Austin after the Cowboys decided to part ways with Roy Williams. In the first game of the season, against the New York Jets, he had three receptions for 71 yards and scored a touchdown, but he suffered a thigh bruise that would cause him to miss the next game against the San Francisco 49ers. He finished his second season in the NFL with 63 catches for 928 yards and nine touchdowns.

In 2012, Dez Bryant enjoyed the best season of his career thus far in the NFL. He finished the season with 92 receptions for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns; these ranked 10th, sixth, and third, among all wide receivers.

He did have to play through several injuries in 2012. He injured his finger in early December, but opted to play through the pain for the betterment of the team. He also had to leave the final game of the season against the Washington Redskins in the fourth quarter due to a back injury. The injury was so severe that he could barely walk.

In 2013, Dez Bryant had career highs in both receptions (93) and touchdowns (13). He also racked up 1,233 receiving yards. He finished eighth in the NFL in catches, 13th in yards, and third in touchdowns among all wide receivers. Based on his 2013 performance, Dez Bryant finally made his first Pro Bowl appearance.

In 2014, Dez Bryant decided to have his best season as a professional. It also happened to be his last year of his rookie contract. He finished the 2014 season with 88 catches for 1,320 yards and 16 touchdowns. His 16 receiving touchdowns set a franchise record previously held by Terrell Owens (15). He also made his second Pro Bowl and was chosen as a first-team All-Pro.

In 2014, Dez Bryant and the Dallas Cowboys would make the playoffs only to be knocked out in the divisional round by the Green Bay Packers. The Cowboys ended the 2014 season on a controversial catch in which Dez Bryant was involved. Initially, he was ruled as making the catch, which set the Cowboys up at the 1 yard line. The catch was challenged by Packers head coach, Mike McCarthy and was eventually overturned. The official ruling was that Bryant didn’t maintain possession of the ball all the way to the ground, thus not completing the catch.

On March 3, 2015, the Dallas Cowboys placed the nonexclusive franchise tag on Dez Bryant. It wasn’t until July 15 that Bryant and the Cowboys were able to reach a five-year $70 million contract extension.

In the first game of the season against the New York Giants, Dez Bryant left the game with a foot injury. X-rays later revealed that he had a stress fracture in his foot and that it would require surgery. The recovery time from the surgery was expected to be 4-6 weeks and he eventually returned in week 8 against the Seattle Seahawks.

Dez Bryant was never quite himself in the 2015 season and was limited to just nine games. He ended the season with just 31 receptions for 401 receiving yards and three touchdowns. After the season, he underwent foot and ankle surgeries on January 6, 2016.

Contract Status

The Dallas Cowboys signed Dez Bryant to a five-year $70 million contract with $32 million fully guaranteed on July 15, 2015. He will make an average of $14 million per season and his contract makes him the 6th highest paid of 382 wide receivers in the NFL.

  • In 2016 his base salary is $9 million and his cap hit is $13 million
  • In 2017 his base salary is $13 million and his cap hit is $17 million
  • In 2018 his base salary is $12,500,000 and his cap hit is $16,500,000
  • In 2019 his base salary is $12,500,000 and his cap hit is $16,500,000

It will be really interesting to see what the Dallas Cowboys decide to do with Dez Bryant once his contract expires.

Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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NFL Draft

Cowboys 2018 Draft Needs: Safety

Jess Haynie

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Xavier Woods, Rams

The Dallas Cowboys have some intriguing young talent at safety. But with Byron Jones returning to the cornerback position, a starting spot is open and more talent is needed. As such, safety should be high on the team's draft priorities in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Right now, Dallas has returning starter Jeff Heath and two exciting prospects in Xavier Woods and Kavon Frazier. Could a good starting pair and solid depth option be found out of that three? Sure. Maybe.

That "maybe" is the issue, and one the Cowboys may not want to live with in 2018. If they can go from "solid" to "strength" at safety with a high draft pick, it could make a significant impact on the defense now and for years to come.

Remember, those three guys we named are two sixth-round picks (Frazier, Woods) and an undrafted player (Health). While that certainly doesn't preclude them from becoming stars, it doesn't give you great odds.

At this point, we know what Jeff Heath is. While he has a knack for making the occasional interception, he's not a consistent threat and can be a liability at times in coverage. For all the "G.O.A.T." jokes we love to make on Twitter, he's certainly a guy who could be upgraded.

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Dallas Cowboys safety Kavon Frazier (Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports)

Ideally, that upgrade would come from within. But both Xavier Woods and Kavon Frazier seem more like hard-hitters you want playing closer to the line of scrimmage. Neither may be the center-fielder who can really round out the defensive backfield.

The desire for that rangy, play-making threat is what has many Cowboys fans clamoring for the team to trade for veteran All-Pro Earl Thomas from Seattle. A discussion that goes back to last December, Thomas put himself on the Dallas radar by finding Jason Garrett in the locker room and imploring the Cowboys to try to acquire him following a Cowboys-Seahawks game.

Dallas could certainly use a player like Earl Thomas, but at what cost? And is he really worthy that price?

Thomas turns 29 in May and expects to be paid like one of the best safeties in the game. His current deal, which expires in 2018, paid and average of $10 million each year. He's going to want at least that going forward.

That's a lot of money to tie up in a guy who's about to turn 30, and just signing him as a free agent would be concerning. The prospect of also having to send a high draft pick creates even more worry.

Even if the Cowboys could get Thomas for a 2nd, is that the best return for that pick.

Let's say Dallas could draft a top name like Derwin James or Minkah Fitzpatrick in the first round. That player should provide an immediate upgrade while also making a rookie's salary. And unlike Earl Thomas, they should be in their prime for at least another 7-8 seasons instead of maybe another 2-3 years.

Not every high pick turns into an Earl Thomas, though, and that's the debate for what makes the most sense. Do you take a proven elite at a higher salary and with a shorter shelf life, or do you gamble on a rookie?

We don't know how realistic a Thomas trade is at this point. If Seattle won't budge on their first-round pick demand then it's a moot point. But if they do come down to a second, Dallas may have a tough decision to make.

If that doesn't happen, Dallas may very well use their 19th overall pick at safety.

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NFL Draft

Cowboys 2018 Draft Needs: Cornerback

Jess Haynie

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Has CB Jourdan Lewis Earned A Starting Role?
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

For years, cornerback has a problem position in Dallas. But after two years of strong drafting and other moves, the CB group looks as solid as it has in some time. As such, it is one of the lower priorities for the Cowboys in the 2018 NFL Draft.

As currently constituted, the cornerbacks are young and deep. Last year's second and third-round picks, Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis, had strong rookie seasons and will be given even more responsibility now.

Anthony Brown, a sixth-round pick in 2016, remains a solid depth option who has already started 19 games in his short career. He's overachieved for his draft position and will contend for a starting job this year.

Also competing will be Byron Jones, the team's first-round pick in 2015. After two years at safety, Jones is moving back to the corner. It's the position he played in college and his first year with the Cowboys.

Just this week, it was announced that Dallas picked up Jones' first-year option on his rookie deal. This means all four players we've discussed are under contract through next season as well.

Indeed, these are great options. Dallas felt so good about it that they were willing to make veteran Orlando Scandrick a salary cap casualty this offseason. In just two years, the Cowboys have totally made over the position from the days of Scandrick, Brandon Carr, and Morris Claiborne.

Duke Thomas

Dallas Cowboys CB Duke Thomas

Even the bottom of the cornerback depth chart has some intrigue. Duke Thomas was emerging in last year's camp and preseason before a foot injury landed him on injured reserve. He'll be just 24 in May and back to compete for a roster spot.

Also returning is Marquez White, a sixth-round pick last year, who spent the season on the practice squad. There wasn't enough room for him on the 2017 roster, but White will hope to follow in the footsteps of Anthony Brown and Kavon Frazier as late-round selections who've emerged as contributors.

Assuming Thomas or White earns a roster spot, that's already five CBs for your 2018 roster. Given that, Dallas can afford to not spend any draft picks at the position if they choose.

That doesn't mean the Cowboys won't add a talent if they like somebody in those later rounds. Even with their current stockpile, they'll draft a kid if they think he can compete for a roster spot.

If a cornerback is drafted, the fifth round is the highest I could see it happening. And even then, it would have to a real value.

More than likely, if any CBs are selected at all, it will be in those final two rounds. It's a luxury the Cowboys can finally enjoy thanks to their successful drafting in recent years.

Hopefully, that trend continues this week.

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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft: Grading “Hit Rate” During the Jason Garrett Era

John Williams

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DeMarcus Lawrence, Aaron Rodgers, Packers
Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

With the NFL Draft coming Thursday, I thought it would be good to take a retrospective look at how the Dallas Cowboys have done in the NFL Draft during the Jason Garrett era. Garrett certainly isn't the sole decision maker when it comes to the draft, but he has a big say in who the team selects over draft weekend.

I'll admit off the top that determining whether they hit on a prospect is a very difficult and subjective thing to do, but I'm going to try anyway.

The way I would define whether a player was a hit would be to define if that player had an impact relative to their draft position.

If we look to before the Jason Garrett era, at a player like DeMarcus Ware, it's obvious that he was a hit. He's a future Hall of Famer. Marcus Spears, taken a few picks after Ware, I'd argue was a miss. He was a good player for Dallas as a 3-4 defensive end, but never produced like you hoped a player taken with the 20th overall pick would, recording only 10 sacks in his 124 game career. Chris Canty and Jay Ratliff, taken in the same 2005 draft, I'd consider hits as they were selected in the 4th and 7th rounds respectively. Ratliff in particular was a tremendous nose tackle for the Dallas Cowboys before moving on to play for the Washington Redskins.

We'll start with the 2011 draft, since that was the first season of Jason Garrett's head coaching tenure.

Cowboys Place LT Tyron Smith On IR Before Week 17

Dallas Cowboys OT Tyron Smith

2011 Draft [Players: 8 / Hits: 3 / Hit Rate: 37.5%]

The 2011 draft marked the first time under the Jerry Jones regime that the Dallas Cowboys spent a first round pick on an offensive lineman, drafting Tyron Smith ninth overall out of the University of Southern California.

Tyron Smith has long been regarded as one of the best left tackles in the NFL and has Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections to prove it. If the end of 2017 is any indication, Tyron Smith could be the most valuable player on the Dallas Cowboys. Smith stepped in right away at RT his rookie year before taking over at LT his second year and has been dominant ever since.

DeMarco Murray, to me was a hit, though his time with the team was short-lived. Anytime you can turn a third round pick into the league's leading rusher, I'd say he made a contribution relative to his draft status.

Murray averaged 4.8 yards per carry during his time with the Cowboys. His rookie season he ran for almost 900 yards on 164 carries and had 1,000 total yards on only 180 touches. His second season, he only played 10 games and his production dropped. In 2013 he had his first thousand-yard season before leading the league in 2014. Even though the Cowboys declined to offer him a second contract, there's no doubt that he contributed far beyond what you would hope for a third round pick.

The other hit of the 2011 draft was WR/KR Dwayne Harris. He never really had much of a role on the offense, but his return ability in addition to his play on the coverage teams was valuable. He had two punt returns for touchdowns in his time with the Cowboys and in 2013 and 2014, had more than 1,100 all-purpose yards.

The major let down from this draft was the Bruce Carter selection. There was always a lot of hope for Carter in the Monte Kiffin/Rod Marinelli defense, but he never quite fit. They tried him at WILL, now manned by Sean Lee, thinking his athleticism and ball skills would make him a natural fit, but his performance was generally underwhelming.

Cowboys DL Tyrone Crawford "Good to Go" for Week One

Dallas Cowboys DT Tyrone Crawford (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

2012 Draft [Players: 7 / Hits: 3 / Hit Rate: 42.9%]

In 2012, the Dallas Cowboys used their second rounder to move up to number six overall to select cornerback Morris Claiborne out of LSU. At the time they told us there hadn't been a corner in the draft as good as Claiborne since Deion Sanders.

Can we stop comparing draftees to Hall of Famers, please?

Pretty much everything that ensued in Claiborne's career with the Dallas Cowboys was a let down.

Claiborne couldn't stay healthy enough to be on the field and eventually lost his job to 2008 fifth-round pick Orlando Scandrick. When he played, he was a good player, but he was never on the field consistently enough or good enough when he was on the field to justify being taken sixth overall.

The three players I'd argue they hit on in this draft are Tyrone Crawford, Kyle Wilber, and James Hanna.

You're going to tell me that Tyrone Crawford is a bad player, and I'm going to argue that he isn't a bad player, he just has a bad contract. Crawford has been a steady player who has moved all over the defensive line and constantly played in roles that didn't necessarily fit him the best. He's been a stand-up teammate and has been productive for this team. Playing out of position as the right defensive end last season, Crawford had four sacks for the Cowboys. That's not nothing. Over the last four years, he's averaged four sacks a season. Again, not spectacular, but steady. He was the team's third round pick in 2012, and though he didn't start a game in 2012 and didn't play in 2013, the last four years have been good, even if they haven't matched his contract.

Kyle Wilber, the team's fourth round pick in 2012, wasn't a diamond in the rough, but like Crawford was a steady and solid player for the team, especially on special teams. On the team's coverage units, he became one of the better special teams players in the league while also providing some nice situational pass rush and was good depth at linebacker.

James Hanna, who just retired because of a knee that wasn't getting better, was a sixth round pick and as Jason Witten's backup for much of his career was a dependable player. The team began to rely upon his blocking ability when they would go with multiple tight end sets. Though he only caught one touchdown in his career, he did catch 37 passes in his 78 game career. When you're a backup to a future Hall of Famer who never comes off the field, a reception every other game from a sixth round pick is a contribution.

Because of the failure of Morris Claiborne and because they had to use a second round pick to move up and get him, this draft has to be categorized as a failure, despite the solid contributions from Crawford, Wilber, and Hanna.

Dallas Cowboys: Ranking Top 5 Most Indispensable Players 1

Dallas Cowboys C Travis Frederick (AP Photo/James D Smith)

2013 Draft [Players: 7 / Hits: 2 / Hit Rate: 28.5%]

Proclaimed a reach on draft day by analysts around the NFL world, the Dallas Cowboys smartly traded back in the 2013 NFL Draft, picked up a 3rd round pick and selected Travis Frederick out of Wisconsin. He has been everything the Dallas Cowboys have hoped for and more, like Tyron, racking up Pro Bowl appearances and All-Pro selections.

The other hit in this class, though he's been a frustrating player at times, is Terrance Williams. Yes, I know, you want your wide receivers to go for 1,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns, but if you have that expectation of a third round wide receiver in a run-first offense playing third fiddle to Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, then you have unrealistic expectations.

Williams has had consistency issues, but he's made some plays.

NFL 2014 Cowboys at Seahawks Romo to Williams

Cowboys Playing Seahawks, they are down by 3 points in the 4th quarter with 4:55 left. It is 3rd & 20 when Tony Romo Scrambles out of a jam and throws a 22 yarder to Williams on the sideline. What a catch and obviously the Cowboys go on to win!

Gavin Escobar, Joseph Randle, and JJ Wilcox were the other notable players from this draft. Randle, you know his issues. They hoped he could take the reins in 2015 after letting DeMarco Murray walk in free agency, but he couldn't keep himself out of trouble.

Wilcox had his moments, but was inconsistent. His angles in pursuit and his less than stellar pass defense are just as memorable as the big hits he produced from time to time.

Gavin Escobar was supposed to be the Aaron Hernandez -- on the field only -- to Jason Witten's Rob Gronkowski as the Dallas Cowboys tried to emulate the New England Patriots by becoming more of a 12-personnel team (two tight ends). Though he was a nice red zone target, he wasn't utilized by the coaching staff. It's debatable whether that's on him or on them, but one thing for sure is they didn't get the return you'd expect from a second round pick. Since he left Dallas, he's struggled to catch on with a team.

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Dallas Cowboys G Zack Martin (AP Photo/James D Smith)

2014 Draft [Players: 9 / Hits: 3 / Hit Rate: 33.3%]

Though they selected nine players in this draft, it's notable that the Dallas Cowboys used five of those selections on seventh-round picks and used their third rounder to move up in the second to select DeMarcus Lawrence.

These three are obvious to me and hopefully to you as well. Zack Martin, DeMarcus Lawrence, and Anthony Hitchens.

What really needs to be said about Zack Martin is, just like Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick before him, he's been as good as gold. He's been an All-Pro player every year since entering the league and combined with Smith and Frederick to become the best offensive line in football. He's lived up to his draft billing.

DeMarcus Lawrence, though he's struggled with injuries, has been a force at defensive end. After not registering a sack during the regular season of his rookie year, Lawrence came up big on back to back plays in the final minute of the playoff game against Detroit in 2014. In 2015 he continued to show promise in the last half of the season, recording eight sacks, but 2016 was marred by back injuries and he registered only one sack. 2017 showed what we hoped he would be, as he registered 14.5 sacks. The Dallas Cowboys gave him the franchise tag this offseason and hope to sign him to a long-term deal.

Anthony Hitchens, the team's fourth round pick, struggled with injuries at times and became a vital player on the team's linebacker depth chart, especially in 2017. As mostly a part-time player for the Cowboys, he never registered fewer than 70 combined tackles when playing all 16 games. In 2017 in particular he showed his worth while Sean Lee was on the shelf and turned that into a big contract with the Kansas City Chiefs. Hitchens is what you hope for out of your fourth round and later draft selections - someone who can be a vital depth chart piece, a rotational player, and start if you need him to.

While the number of hits they made looks low, if you took out the seventh rounders, who typically have a hard time making a roster, then the hit rate goes up to 75%. Pretty good.

Dallas Cowboys 3rd Safety Spot Remains A Concern 2

Dallas Cowboys DB Jeff Heath, DB Byron Jones (Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports)

2015 Draft [Players: 8 / Hits: 3 / Hit Rate: 37.5%]

This wasn't a great draft for the Dallas Cowboys as they've received zilch from their second and third round picks, Randy Gregory and Chaz Green.

You know Randy Gregory's issues by now and hopefully the man is getting his life together and is in a good place. Anything from him on the football field at this point is gravy.

Chaz Green nearly got Dak Prescott killed during the Atlanta Falcons game in 2017. His inability to block Adrian Clayborn was the low-light of that season. There's a good chance he's off the roster when preseason cut down day approaches.

Where they did hit was on Byron Jones, though they've not done him any favors by switching him back and forth between safety and corner. He hasn't been a superstar like the first rounders before him, but as the 28th overall pick, he's been good. He's been a lock down cover player on opposing tight ends and has made it difficult for teams to take the top off the Dallas Cowboys defense with his length and athleticism. Being moved back to cornerback, I think we are about to see the best version of Byron Jones yet.

Damien Wilson, though a frustrating player at times, has been a steadfast presence as the SAM linebacker and on special teams. A former fourth round pick who doesn't play a lot, Wilson has become a solid edge-setting presence on running downs. Again, not spectacular, but when you ask him to defend the run, he's been really good.

The final hit from this class is tight end Geoff Swaim. Yes, he hasn't made much of an impact, but he's done enough to make the roster and has nine catches for 95 yards in his career. Like Hanna, when you play behind the greatest tight end to ever play the game, you aren't getting a lot of opportunities to showcase your receiving ability. He's been steady in the run game and the team likes him as a depth tight end piece.

A Fully Focused Ezekiel Elliott can Carry the Cowboys into 2018 Playoffs 2

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott (Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports)

2016 Draft [Players: 9 / Hits: 5 / Hit Rate: 55.5%]

Let me preface this by saying, we still need more information to truly determine whether a player has been a hit for a team or not. So, we will review this again next year. That being said, I think they knocked the ball out of the park with this class.

The biggest hits so far are obviously Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. What they did in their rookie years, going 13-3, Elliott leading the league in rushing, Prescott being in MVP conversations, is hard to top for first-year production.

Dak is in a bit of a prove it year, though, after the second half of his 2017 season fell flat. I still believe he's the future of this franchise and will lead them to the promised land, but he has to prove it.

Elliott's only issue was the railroading provided by Roger Goodell and the NFL's league office. When he's on the field, he's an electric and physical presence that has shown an ability to take the ball for a score every time he touches it.

Maliek Collins had an excellent rookie year as the 3T defensive tackle, recording six sacks and providing consistent pressure down the stretch. In his second year, he played out of position as the 1T and wasn't bad, but sacks are a little less likely when getting double teamed every play.

Anthony Brown, selected in sixth round, has been a really good player for the Dallas Cowboys. In 2016 when injuries to Orlando Scandrick and Morris Claiborne forced him into action, he played really well and gave the front office confidence that they could move on from Brandon Carr and Claiborne that offseason. He had a down start to the year in 2017, but rebounded in the second half and was a solid depth piece for the team. As the Cowboys fourth cornerback and hopefully operating mostly out of the slot, he can be a really good player for Dallas.

Kavon Frazier has shown flashes of being a physical presence in the secondary for the Dallas Cowboys defense. Another sixth round pick, he'll get the chance to expand his role this season under new defensive backs coach Kris Richard. As the tone setter in the secondary, he's already become a valuable piece to Rod Marinelli's defense.

The verdict is still out on Jaylon Smith, only because of his draft position, but with a solid 2018 campaign, we could move him into the hit column. Health will be key for Smith, and it appears there is good news on that front.

Rico Gathers and Charles Tapper haven't really had a chance to showcase what they could be because of injuries, but if they can get on the roster and contribute, then there's a good chance this turns into a 100% hit rate class. Both Tapper and Gathers have the potential to be good depth for the Dallas Cowboys.

Will Chidobe Awuzie's Return Benefit The Cowboys Defense?

Dallas Cowboys DB Jourdan Lewis, DB Chidobe Awuzie, DB Xavier Woods (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

2017 Draft

Like 2016, we still need more information to fully assess these players as hits, but the early returns are very promising for players like Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, Ryan Switzer -- as a returner -- and Xavier Woods.

Taco Charlton showed something in the last half of the 2017 season to be hopeful about his 2018 prospects. However, he needs to become more than just a rotational player for his selection to be viewed as a hit.

The team thought enough of Noah Brown at the end of training camp in 2017 to keep six wide receivers on the roster. He didn't get many opportunities to play, but has some potential to be a solid fourth or fifth receiver for the Dallas Cowboys. They currently have a bit of a log-jam on the WR depth chart, but given opportunities, he has the athleticism and hands to be an effective player in the NFL.

Marquez White is still a bit of an unknown with being relegated to the practice squad in 2017, but he'll have a shot to earn the fifth cornerback spot in training camp.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

So, only factoring in the draft classes from 2011-2016, giving the 2017 class a bit more time to marinate, Jason Garrett has led the Dallas Cowboys to a hit rate of 38.8% on 49 players drafted. If you take out the tremendous success of the 2016 class you're looking at a hit rate of 35.9%.

The rate could go down if players from the 2016 class don't maintain their current trajectory, or if Byron Jones takes a step back in his move to cornerback. But it still has a chance to go up depending on what Jaylon Smith and Randy Gregory do this year.

On average, this team adds about three players per draft class who end up making contributions to the team relative to their draft position. The Dallas Cowboys have gotten pretty good at this over the last several years and have a great chance to make several more key additions to the roster in the 2018 NFL Draft.

This doesn't even include the contributions made by undrafted free agents like Cole Beasley, La'el Collins, Dan Bailey, Chris Jones, Cooper Rush, and Jeff Heath.

Though we may feel one way or the other about the group of players that gets selected this weekend, only time will tell if the team hit on them or not. What we do know is that three or four players from this weekend's draft class will make contributions.

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