As we all know, the Cowboys are currently picking 18th this year, so I decided to do a little research to find out which players have gone 18th overall in the last few years. My findings left me both hopeful and fearful at the same time:
2012 Melvin Ingram DE
2011 Corey Liuget DT
2010 Maurkice Pouncey C
2009 Robert Ayers DE
2008 Joe Flacco QB
2007 Leon Hall CB
I firmly believe the Cowboys need to focus on the trenches with their first pick, preferably DL. This line of thinking raises some concerns, given the trend of the 18th pick yielding more developmental players along the front seven. When you look at the history of the 17th and 19th picks as well, it becomes apparent that OL (Iupati, Solder) has a faster ROI in this pick range. The apparent depth of DL prospects this year may change that, but that's a risky gamble.
Since 1967, the Cowboys have picked 18th a total of 3 times. None of the picks have resulted in a player with a lasting impact on the field. In 1986, they selected Mike Sherrard. While he did have a very promising rookie campaign, his career was permanently derailed due to recurring leg injuries beginning in training camp of his second year. In 1975, they Cowboys selected Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson. While he was a tremendously gifted athlete who gave the team a couple of outstanding years, his lifestyle and drug addiction led to him being waived in 1979, one year after making the Pro Bowl.
Given the Cowboys track record with this pick and the ROI other teams have recently gotten from picking 18th, I think the Cowboys will be better served taking the best interior OL available when they're on the clock if they want immediate impact.