1995 Review: Cowboys Employ Disasterous Draft Strategy

Tight end Eric Bjornson was the best player taken in the 1995 draft.

In 1994, the Cowboys found a future Hall of Famer in Larry Allen, so the fact that the rest of the draft was so poor was forgivable. In 1995, the Cowboys decided that instead of drafting potential future starters or even the best players available, the team would look for backups and special teams players. In 1998, the Cowboys were still regretting the decisions made in that draft.

Despite snickers from around the NFL, [Jerry] Jones and [Scouting Director Larry] Lacewell followed through with their unorthodox strategy that spring – with undeniably disastrous results:

Running back Sherman Williams – released earlier this month. Guard Shane Hannah – in training camp in Carolina. Tight end Kendell Watkins – cut last year and trying to stick in the NFL as a guard with Denver.

Hannah, a second-round pick, admitted to reporters on draft day that he didn’t expect to be taken until the fifth or sixth round – if at all. Meanwhile, the Cowboys’ third-round pick, safety Charlie Williams, was deemed free-agent material by most teams.

And so on, and so on . . .

Here’s a look at the result of this strategy:

2(46) Sherman Williams, RB, Alabama
2(59) Kendell Watkins, TE, Mississippi State
2(63) Shane Hannah, G, Michigan State
3(92) Charlie Williams, DB, Bowling Green
4(110) Eric Bjornson, TE, Washington
4(129) Alundis Brice, DB, Mississippi
4(130) Linc Harden, LB, Oklahoma State
5(166) Edward Hervey, WR, USC
5(168) Dana Howard, LB, Illinois
7(236) Oscar Sturgis, DE, North Carolina

The DMN provided more about the effects that these draft picks had on the team over the next several years:

[B]ecause Sherman Williams was fumble-prone and undedicated in his preparation as Emmitt Smith’s much-needed backup, the Cowboys gave up on him and signed former Seattle Seahawk Chris Warren to a three-year, $2 million contract that included a $600,000 signing bonus.

Because Hannah was such a bust as a second-round selection at guard, the Cowboys were forced to sign Everett McIver – formerly of their practice squad – away from the Miami Dolphins at a cost of $9.5 million over five years, including a $1.6 million bonus.

Because Bjornson hasn’t been able to stay healthy for any length of time, the Cowboys felt they had to trade up to take LSU tight end David LaFleur in the first round of the 1997 draft. The cost? $5.325 million over five years, including a $1.8 million bonus.

And because Charlie Williams showed no ability to be a starting free safety after incumbent Brock Marion left for Miami in free agency last spring, the Cowboys asked journeyman George Teague back at a cost of $1.3 million over two years.

The financial hit from those four moves alone: $18.125 million in commitments just to clean up the mistakes of ’95.

The Cowboys traded the 28th overall pick to Tampa Bay for two second-round picks. The Buccaneers took linebacker Derrick Brooks. The Cowboys used one of the second-round picks on Hannah, who was injured in training camp in 1995 and never played a down in the NFL. Running backs available when Dallas took Sherman Williams included Terrell Davis and Curtis Martin.

Free agency caused further erosion to the Cowboys’ talent base, as the team lost center Mark Stepnoski, receiver Alvin Harper, defensive end Jim Jeffcoat, backup quarterback Rodney Peete, defensive back Kenny Gant, and safety James Washington.

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  • Jason Neighbors

    Minor correction- it’s Alundis Brice, who stuck with the Cowboys for a couple of years as a reserve.

    That was a terrible draft strategy. Certainly didn’t do Switzer any favors, who didn’t seem to have much say-so in the draft.

  • Thanks. I’m sure I was somehow thinking of Aundray Bruce when I typed it.

  • I know the Cowboys would come back strongly.