The Dallas Cowboys began their rebuilding process in the early 2000s with high first-round draft picks in 2002 and 2003. In both drafts, the Cowboys stuck with the Big XII Conference, taking safety Roy Williams of Oklahoma in 2002 and cornerback Terence Newman of Kansas State in 2003.
Williams was an immediate hit, making five consecutive Pro Bowls. He was a hard-hitting machine who would make receivers think twice about coming over the middle.
It took Newman longer to catch on. He recorded a total of 32 career interceptions but never had more than five in a season. He made two Pro Bowl appearances in 2007 and 2009.
Williams’ fall from grace occurred rather abruptly. The league proscribed the horse-collar tackle largely because of Williams, and he continued to commit the penalty. Around the same time, he also lost the ability to cover. Tight ends and slot receivers would run right in front of him, and Williams would often fail to react. He had a subpar 2007 season (making the Pro Bowl on his name more than anything) before suffering through an injury-plagued campaign in 2008.
Newman was often compared with Deion Sanders, but the comparison was neither fair nor close to accurate. Newman had speed, but he never showed the coverage skills of a top-flight cornerback. He was a good corner, but never better than a good corner.
He had his moments in 2011, but his performances near the end of the season sealed his fate. He often played 12 to 15 yards off the ball, and receivers would eat him alive on shorter routes. He had a chance for a pick-6 against the Giants in December but dropped the ball. He was so dreadful against New York in the rematch in week 17 that most would rather see any of the backups, including Alan Ball.
The poll question below asks whether Terence Newman underachieved as a member of the Cowboys.