The Cowboys for many years were the most innovative team in terms of their approach to the collegiate draft, and for that reason the team has not had many horrible drafts. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been a few bad ones. What’s more troubling have been some of the poor drafts that have taken place during the past 10 years.
Of particular concern right now is the 2009 draft, which thus far has produced a kicker with a big leg and accuracy problems; a third tight end who is on injured reserve this year; a third-string quarterback who ran the option until his senior year in college and who has not played a down in the NFL; and a backup linebacker. With the Cowboys’ release of Jason Williams this week, 7 of the team’s 12 picks have been cut, though Robert Brewster and Manuel Johnson are still on the practice squad.
So the question of the day is whether the 2009 draft was the team’s worst. It may be a tough call, but rather surprisingly, there have been few worst drafts. Here’s a look. Please make your selection in the form at the bottom of the post.
First-round pick Tody Smith only played two years in Dallas before moving on to Houston. Eighth-round pick Ron Jessie never played for the Cowboys but became a Pro Bowl player in Los Angeles. Defensive lineman Bill Gregory remained with the team until 1977 before becoming a starter in Seattle. Otherwise, most players taken in this draft were completely forgettable.
First-round pick Larry Bethea never played like a high draft choice and only lasted six years in Dallas. Of the team’s 12 picks overall, only five played in the league. The best player of the bunch was tight end Todd Christensen, but he never played a down in Dallas. The only noteworthy Cowboy among the bunch was 11th-round pick Dennis Thurman.
The Cowboys had 16 picks in the 1982 draft but could only produce the likes of Rod Hill, Jeff Rohrer, and Phil Pozderac. Rohrer and Pozderac became starters, but it was only because the team’s talent level had decreased so much by the middle part of the decade.
This was the infamous backup draft, where the Cowboys picked players based on their projected roles as backups. The draft produced running back Sherman Williams, tight end Kendell Watkins, cornerback Charlie Williams, tight end Eric Bjornson, and cornerback Alundis Brice. They were, as you can imagine, backups.
Jerry was hell-bent on finding a defensive back to replace Deion Sanders in 2000. He found Dwayne Goodrich, Kareem Larrimore, and Mario Edwards. Only the latter of the three was worth anything. Running back Michael Wiley was not entirely awful coming out of the backfield, but he certainly wasn’t good either.
Jerry didn’t have a first-round pick for the second year in a row thanks to his trade for receiver Joey Galloway. He traded picks for picks for picks for picks before finally getting quarterback Quincy Carter and safety Tony Dixon in the second round.
This was the year of Barbie. That is, Bobby Carpenter. Everything about Bobby screamed BUST from early in his rookie season. The Cowboys found some better players in tight end Anthony Fasano, Jason Hatcher, Pat Watkins, and Pat McQuistan, but Fasano and McQuistan have had much better pro careers in Miami than in Dallas. The Cowboys cut Watkins during training camp in 2010 and miss him on special teams. Of the players taken in 2006, only Hatcher remains.
Jerry apparently didn’t learn anything from the Joey Galloway trade because he gave away the team’s first-round pick in 2009 to acquire receiver Roy Williams. Dallas then traded out of the second round to try to get more later-round picks. The big question on everyone’s mind as the team finally made selections: who is that?
My choice: I’m going to go with the 2000 draft for now. The Cowboys were headed downward fast and needed new talent. Instead, Dallas had only five picks and tried to corner the market on mediocre to bad cornerbacks. Other teams found a number of solid players in the first five rounds. Edwards and Wiley weren’t the worst picks ever, but when they are the only two contributors in an entire draft, it’s a pretty bad draft.