For years, we've tortured ourselves in front of big screens, flat screens, and computers each April. We curse Jerry Jones and his wildcat, Blue-label scotch binges for reckless deals on draft days. We've flung caps and draft sheets, as names we weren't expecting or didn't want to hear were bellowed in Rounds 2 through 7. With only one playoff victory since Troy, Emmitt and Michael were together, let's face it...our football mortality has been painful enough to deal with that the 2009 Draft damn near broke the camel's back for many of us leather heads and draftniks.
While we've done okay in Round 1 for several years, it's from then that our palms and pits soak our koozies and t-shirts. So, why is this pre-end of the Mayan calendar draft that much more important than most?Because this is the defining moment if the past two drafts that convinces GM Jerry, the Read-Headed Genius, and our beefed-up scouting department are building a solid foundation of significant change in momentum for the Dallas Cowboys. Are we going to get cute after Round 1 and take small-school projects and more ACL-recovering redshirts? Or will we find two or three more starters and much-needed talent who can provide quality depth and help out our special teams...immediately? Because we have to land at least three guys who can come in and start and/or compete for starting positions by October's end.
While the 2012 free agency signings is perhaps the most well-addressed group of players I can remember for this franchise, it only lessens the stench of the 2009 Draft class, which has disintegrated like rotten toilet paper. Yes, we need a bonafide stud in Round 1, but our first pick doesn't really make me nervous. Because it's the following rounds, particularly Round 2, 3 & 4 that builds championship teams, separating pretenders from contenders. And we haven't exactly excelled in those rounds consistently over the last decade and a half. But our championship teams of the early 1990s were loaded from those rounds...even pre-Herschel trade.
Here are some clutch picks we selected in rounds 2-4 from 1988-1992: Ken Norton Jr., Darryl Johnston, Mark Stepnoski, Tony Tolbert, Jimmie Jones, Dixon Edwards, Godfrey Miles, Erik Williams, Darren Woodson, Clayton Holmes, and Jimmie Smith (ouch). Not all household names, but they were definite contributors to our Super Bowl years (minus J. Smith.) 10 TOTAL
Fast forward a few years from 1999 to 2004: Dat Nguyen, Andre Gurode, Jason Whitten, Bradie James, and Julius Jones were the only real contributors to this team from those same rounds. FIVE TOTAL So, we go from 10 key players to five, and many could argue against Julius Jones as a one-year wonder.
The 2005 Class was by far the best draft we've had since Jimmy Johnson was here. But then we hit another dry spell littered with evaporated toilet paper from 2006-2010. Over those five years, we boast Jason Hatcher, Doug Free, and Sean Lee. THREE TOTAL Not exactly a herd of roster fillers in those three important rounds that have hung around Valley Ranch. Hence, a large part for our late-season swoons. NO FREAKIN' DEPTH.
While everyone is eyeing our #14 selection, I'm much more nervous about what we do at #45, #82 and #115. So, I've stacked extra koozies and t-shirts next to my draft sheets...underneath the 17-year old shadow of the last championship team photo.