At first glance, the 2002 NFL Draft looked like a good one for the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys held the sixth overall pick of that draft, but they decided to trade down to the eighth pick when the Kansas City Chiefs offered them a package that they couldn't turn down. The Cowboys also picked up the Chiefs 2002 third-round and 2003 third-round pick.
The Chiefs moved up to draft UNC defensive tackle Ryan Sims. Sims never amounted into what Kansas City had hoped for. The Cowboys managed to pick up extra draft picks and were very happy when the player they were targeting was still on the board.
That player was All-American Oklahoma safety Roy Williams. Williams was one of the most physically dominating players of his era. He dominated the college game and earned the nickname "Superman". I remember this draft like it was yesterday. It looked like the Cowboys had picked up a great looking prospect in Williams, but they drafted the wrong safety that year.
Being a fan of the University of Miami, safety Ed Reed was a player that I watched during his college career and was a huge fan. Reed was a game changer at safety who was always near the football, but his lack of size (5'11", 201) made scouts question whether he could play at a high level in the NFL.
As it turns out, the Cowboys were not looking for a free safety, but rather a strong safety. Bryan Broaddus was working as a scout for the Dallas Cowboys during the 2002 NFL Draft. Broaddus supports that the Cowboys made the right decision by picking Williams over Reed because they were looking for a certain type of safety.
I remember when Newsome drafted Ed Reed out of Miami in 2002. We were in the market for a safety as well and ended up taking Roy Williams from Oklahoma. At the time, we had Darren Woodson and were looking to pair him with a big, physical safety, which is what we saw in Williams. It was not that we didn’t like Reed, because we did. His college tape was quite impressive and you always saw him around the football, whether it was an interception or a fumble recovery. If we had been looking for a player that was more of a true free safety rather than a strong safety, he would have been an outstanding consideration.
The article written by Broaddus was one of the most interesting articles that I have read in the last six months. That draft took place over ten years ago, and I have never really seen a member of the Cowboys come out and say why they chose Williams over Reed. It was really interesting to see such a well-established and respected scout like Broaddus come out and publicly stand by their pick.
It's also very interesting that the Cowboys were looking for a big and physical safety to pair with Woodson. Woodson was a very large safety (6'1", 219) that was basically interchangeable and could play either safety position. It may have made more sense for the Cowboys to add a more natural free safety, but their logic of having two physical safeties was exactly what NFL teams had in mind back in 2002.
You really can't fault the Cowboys too much for not taking Reed over Williams. Back in 2002, the NFL wasn't the passing league it is now. Scouts probably still had the mindset that big and physical was what you looked for at safety. 23 teams passed on Ed Reed before the Baltimore Ravens made him the 24th overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft. Obviously the Cowboys weren't the only team to miss out on a safety who will probably go down as one of the best to ever play the position.
It's unfortunate because Roy Williams and his physical style led to a short career with the Dallas Cowboys. Ed Reed is 34 years old and is still going strong in his 11th NFL season. Reed has 59 career interceptions and is an eight-time All-Pro selection. He has had a fantastic career for the Baltimore Ravens. Hopefully Reed doesn't have another great game against the Cowboys. If I could suggest one thing to Tony Romo, then I would suggest that he stay away from Ed Reed.