Could Dallas Cowboys 2012 Draft Class Be Best Since 2005?

James Hanna (84) Kyle Wilber (51) and Morris Claiborne (24) walk off the field after rookie mini-camp practice.

Gil Brandt of NFL.com penned an article yesterday in which he writes that based on his impressions from rookie minicamp, "this is Jerry Jones' and the Cowboys' best draft class since 2005".

Brandt is not just anybody. For those unfamiliar with him, Brandt is a former scout who worked for the Cowboys from 1960 to 1989, most of that time as the VP for Player Personnel. Today he is a senior analyst for NFL.com and their main personnel man.

Although Brandt warns never to judge players by what they do in shorts, he thinks the 2012 draft class could change the direction of the franchise:

When I watched the rookies practice over the weekend, I saw players excelling at the most important qualities for their positions. This, in my estimation, is the most telling factor in a player's future success.


Related: Cowboys' 2012 Draft Class: Keep The Cap On The Anointing Oil

Brand has a short profile on each of the Cowboys' seven draft picks, mentions UDFA guard Ronald Leary and concludes that he thinks it's highly likely that nine first-year players could see game time this season:

From what I saw last weekend, this is Jerry Jones' and the Cowboys' best draft class since 2005.

Really?

Just as a reminder, this was the Cowboys' 2005 draft class:

Round Pick Name All Pro Nom.
Pro Bowls Games Games started
1 11 DeMarcus Ware 4 6 112 111
1 20 Marcus Spears - -
- -
104 83
2 42 Kevin Burnett - -
- -
104 43
4 109 Marion Barber - -
1 99 42
4 132 Chris Canty - -
- -
104 86
6 208 Justin Beriault - -
- -
- -
- -
6 209 Rob Petitti - -
- -
27 17
7 224 Jay Ratliff 1 3 98 79

Any way you look at it, this is a fantastic draft class. Six out of eight draft picks ended up as starters, and if you include Rob Petitti, who started for a year in Dallas, that would bring the total to seven. And even Beriault showed great promise before a knee injury eventually ended his career before it ever began.

As fans, we're still in the process of getting acquainted with this year's draft class, heck, we're still struggling with spelling the names of the rookies correctly. So normally, if somebody were to make such a bold comparison between a bunch of largely unknown rookies and arguably one of the Cowboys' best draft classes ever, I'd simply shrug it off.

But Brandt saying this makes it noteworthy. Here's a former NFL personnel man who has actually been to rookie minicamp and knows a thing or two about talent evaluation. So I'll take his opinion over that of some internet hack with youtube access and an In$ider ESPN account any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

And to be fair, Brandt didn't say that this draft class is better than the 2005 class. Just that that he thinks it'll be better than anything since, and if you're somewhat familiar with the Cowboys' recent draft history, that may not be such a stretch.

So I'll take Brandt's opinion for what it is: a very positive first impression about a draft class that still has a lot of work to do before its potential can translate into production on the field. But today I am smiling a little more than I already did yesterday.

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