Decade Of Drafting Grades: Cowboys Earn...

Browsing SB Nation, I came across this grading of the Dallas Cowboys draft history in the 2000's. This one particular site, coldhardfootballfacts.com, used the grading system from one of our favorite sources, pro-football-reference.com, to grade the drafts of each NFL team over the last decade.

Not surprisingly, the evidence backed the consensus opinion that New England killed the draft for the stretch, earning Valedictorian honors(A). Other teams well-known for their draft prowess, Baltimore, San Diego and the NY Giants (A-) were named teacher's pets.

Dallas fell in to the category of Solid Students, 10th overall, with the following breakdown:

Dallas (B)
Pro Bowlers: 10 (3rd)
Draftees Active in 2010: 42 (t-9th)
Players with 50+ Career AV: 4 (t-6th)
Players with 20+ Career AV: 15 (t-20th)
Best Pick: TE Jason Witten (3rd round, 2003)
Worst Pick: LB Bobby Carpenter (No. 18 overall, 2006)
 
Summary: Jerry Jones doesn’t lack an eye for talent, but he’s always been short the one or two players needed to break through. Although the Cowboys had more pressing needs in the secondary in the 2011 draft, the selection of tackle Tryon Smith at No. 9 overall reflected a less obvious failure from the past decade of drafts: the Cowboys didn’t draft a lineman in the first round in all of the 2000s, and only one of the 15 OLs they did pick made a Pro Bowl (Andre Gurode).

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I think the growing consensus is that Pro Bowl nominations should rarely be considered by itself as a measure of player success. I think the 'Draftees Active in 2010' is a direct result of a philosophy I had considered about five years ago... the league has so much faith in Bill Parcells track record, that his players tend to get more opportunities on various teams. Maybe I'll research that someday this off season.

But Dallas is #6 in terms of finding players that produce a great amount and show longevity (Career Approximate Value [AV] of 50+). When you throw in the UDFA stud QB Tony Romo clocking in with a Career AV of 59, Dallas would be in a tie for second.

Where Dallas falls behind is in the solid starter category (Career AV 20+). They only rank tied for 20th in that field. WR Miles Austin, another UDFA, obviously doesn't qualify for the draft evaluation, but he has accumulated a Career AV score of 21 in the last two seasons alone. His continued ascension seems like something we can hang our hats on.

I think this wide-lens view of the team is why so many people like PFR's Career AV stat; doesn't it seem to agree with the eye test? Dallas has the top end stars to compete with the rest of the league, but the middle tier hasn't been quality enough to take the prize.

A sobering thought... so far Dez Bryant is the only draftee in the last two hauls (before 2011 of course) that has a Career AV over 3, clocking in at 7 despite his injury and drama-plagued rookie campaign. Not all is lost for those classes though. Hope exists in knowing that before Austins' 21 total in two years, he had a Career AV of 5 for the first three years of his career. Maybe one of the other draft picks will make us feel like we struck gold in the next year or two. Cross your fingers.

For a greater breakdown of the Cowboys previous drafts compared to the league, check out rabblerousr's pre-draft primer, part II here.

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NOTES: Other NFC East Team Grades (Redskins didn't rank, HA!)

Pro Bowlers: 9 (t-6th)
Draftees Active in 2010: 42 (t-9th)
Players with 50+ Career AV: 4 (t-4th)
Players with 20+ Career AV: 20 (t-6th)
Best Pick: OL David Diehi (5th round, 2003)
Worst Pick: WR Sinorice Moss (2nd round, 2006)

Philadelphia (B+)
Pro Bowlers: 7 (t-14th)
Draftees Active in 2010: 45 (t-5th)
Players with 50+ Career AV: 2 (t-17th)
Players with 20+ Career AV: 19 (t-9th)
Best Pick: DE Trent Cole (5th round, 2005)
Worst Pick: DE Jerome McDougle (1st round, 2003)


Hat Tip to BGN member JoshuaR for the FanShot that brought me to this review.

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