Note: This is part three in a five part series. Counting down to the draft on April 27, Blogging The Boys will be presenting profiles on the top 5 biggest steals and worst disappointments in Cowboys draft history.
Biggest steal nominee #3: Rayfield Wright, selected in the 7th round,1967
Rayfield Wright entered this world an underdog. Coming from a poor southern family, his mother and grandmother helped build the foundation for a life steeped in hard work and faith. Not falling prey to the traps of poverty and living in a bad neighborhood his ethics and budding athleticism bought him a ride to college, the small Fort Valley (GA) State College. While in school there, he lettered in football and basketball and at one time was offered the chance to leave school to play basketball professionally.
The Dallas Cowboys had a knack for scouting small schools for talent, particularly basketball players. During the 1967 draft, the Cowboys decided to take a chance with Wright and drafted him in the seventh round. The Cowboys drafted him knowing that if he did not pan out, not much was lost. Coming out of college in 1967, nobody expected much out of him. It was thought that it be a stretch for him to make the team. Yet at 6-7, 255 pounds, Wright's athletic ability and versatility bought him a roster spot when Tom Landry started using him a tight end, defensive lineman and utility offensive tackle. When the starting right tackle went down during the 1969 season, Landry decided that Wright was the new man for the job. He took over on the right side of the offensive lineman and never looked back.
Rayfield Wright epitomized everything that represented the Dallas Cowboys in the 1970s. He was tenacious, hard working and fiercely determined. He never hesitated to take on the league's premier defensive lineman while protecting Roger Staubach and opening up holes for Calvin Hill and Tony Dorsett. An immovable rock on the offensive line, it was his speed that truly gave defensive players fits. He had the ability to slide and protect the edge while having the strength to drive his man to the ground. His play would set a high standard for Cowboys offensive linemen for years to come.
While his athleticism and physical prowess made him a great tackle, it was his leadership and attitude that truly set him apart from players across the league. A team captain for seven years, he helped lead the team to five conference championships and two Super Bowl victories. Teammates loved to play for him and he had the ability to get the most out of those around him. On a team with Roger Staubach, Bob Hayes, Tony Dorsett, Ed Jones and Randy White it was Wright's leadership that helped steer the team to greatness. A six-time Pro Bowler, 1970s All-Decade player, a Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor inductee and Hall of Famer, Wright is one of the Dallas Cowboys best players of all time and one of the best offensive linemen to ever take the field. Not bad for a small risk seventh rounder.
Biggest disappointment nominee #3: Quincy Carter, selected #53 overall in the second round of the 2001 draft.
Entering the 2001 draft Jerry Jones was faced with a dilemma. The only starting quarterback he ever had as the Dallas Cowboys owner had retired following the 2000 season. The Cowboys had a slew of unproven and marginally talented quarterbacks on their roster and it was obvious the Cowboys needed to draft a quarterback to come in and take the reins. The problem was, Jerry had traded away his first round draft pick in order to get Joey Galloway. Faced with unenviable task of making a miracle happen, Jerry Jones panicked. The Cowboys made a slew of draft day trades, trading away the #37 pick to Indianapolis only to make a trade later in the round to move back up. The targeted player was Georgia quarterback Quincy Carter.
Carter was a player that many decided it might be best to stay away from. After a failed attempt at a professional baseball career, he goes to the University of Georgia and wins the starting quarterback job. Coming out of nowhere he has a tremendous season for the Bulldogs his sophomore year and it seems that his future in football is very bright. Unfortunately, during his junior year Carter's struggles with marijuana use begin. He has a very disappointing junior season that was marred with injury and inconsistent play. Despite the underwhelming season, he declares himself for the NFL draft and is picked by the Cowboys in perhaps the most surprising move of the 2001 draft.
Playing quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys is not an easy task. The pressure is intense to step in and make a difference immediately. It became quickly apparent though that Carter was nowhere near ready for the NFL. Thrust into the starting role his rookie season he was unable to suppress his gunslinging tendencies and started a trend of grossly inconsistent play.
Watching Quincy Carter play was a painful exercise in watching potential slowly go to waste. It was obvious that he had the athletic ability to excel in the NFL and lead the Cowboys to triumph. The problem was that Carter's focus and decision making left much to be desired. The bad plays far outnumbered the good and the frustrations mounted for both him and the Cowboys. His second year Carter lost the starting job to Chad Hutchinson halfway through the season.
The next season, Carter showed up to training camp with a renewed sense of purpose and proved himself capable of starting to new coach Bill Parcells. Under Parcells, he led the Cowboys to a surprising 10-6 record and a berth in the playoffs. It seemed as if Carter had turned a corner and was finally going to be able to realize the potential he had flashed his first two seasons. Then, inexplicably, Carter was cut by Parcells during training camp in 2004.
It was later revealed that Carter had failed a drug test and was cut when the team felt they could no longer put their trust in the quarterback. Over the past few years it has come clear that Carter struggled with marijuana use throughout his career. After failing another drug test while playing with the New York Jets, Carter left the league for good. He attempted to play in the CFL and when that failed tried his hand in Arena Football. His drug problems never left him, however, and he was arrested for felony possession in October, 2007. It was a tough task to ask Quincy Carter to step into Troy Aikman's shoes and become the savior. But he threw away any chances he might have had to be extraordinary and became just another failure in the hands of an addiction.