The minute the 2008 NFL draft is complete various experts and analysts will bestow each team with instant grades on how they did during the draft. However, it's tough to judge exactly how a draft class will turn out right away. The consensus is it takes at least three years to truly judge how a draft class has panned out and Scouts, Inc. takes a close look back at the 2005 draft.
Looking at the list of players chosen in the first round it becomes clear this was a very underwhelming group of players. What is encouraging is that Dallas is one of the few teams that has come away from that draft truly on top. Six of the eight players chosen by the Cowboys have become major contributors on the team with all but one still in the NFL (Safety Justin Beriault never played a down in the regular season due to a severe knee injury.)
In their examination of the 2005 draft Scouts, Inc. makes some interesting observations about some of the Cowboys' players. Of the 12 Pro Bowlers that came out of the draft, two were Dallas Cowboys:
DE DeMarcus Ware (Cowboys, current grade: 93)
RB Marion Barber (Cowboys, grade: 77)
On the late round picks:
DT Jay Ratliff (Cowboys, current grade: 65) is the highest-rated player drafted in the seventh round.
Scouts, Inc. also re-graded the Cowboys' draft and compared it to the average grades the team received just after the draft. Interestingly, Dallas is downgraded from an "A" to an "A-". Not a huge change but looking back on how this draft has shaped the current team goes to show how well the Cowboys drafted out of a supposedly "weak class". Early in the first round the Cowboys were able to grab one of the most dynamic pass rushers in the league today in DeMarcus Ware. They were also able to stay true to their original plans and draft Marcus Spears, who has not become the playmaker expected of a first round pick and yet is still a solid run stuffer in the team's 3-4 defense. Chris Canty (4th round) has shown flashes of becoming an every game playmaker and Kevin Burnett (2nd round) will be pushing the veterans ahead of him for a starting role. The biggest surprise, however, has to be Jay Ratliff (7th round). Fighting for playing time as a defensive end Ratliff made the switch to starting nose tackle and exceeded all expectations laid upon him. His versatility and ability to play both positions has made him a valuable asset on the defensive line. If the Cowboys are able to finally get over the hump and find post-season success, their 2005 draft class will rank with one of the best in Cowboys' history.
Scouts, Inc. also took the chance to do something unconventional with their evaluation of 2005. Using the knowledge we have now on how these players have turned out, they held a re-draft and picked for all the teams all over again. DeMarcus Ware becomes the #2 pick overall and Marion Barber and Chris Canty make it into the first round.
2. Miami Dolphins -- LB DeMarcus Ware, Troy
Actual selection: RB Ronnie Brown, Auburn
It's fitting for the Dolphins to draft Ware. Bill Parcells obviously likes Ware, having drafted him in Dallas in 2005. The Cowboys have played a hybrid 3-4 defense, and Ware was the second-best player in this draft behind Merriman. Brown has been solid, but he hasn't been able to carry a dismal offense over the past few years.
11. Dallas Cowboys -- DE Justin Tuck, Notre Dame
Actual selection: LB DeMarcus Ware, Troy
Even with Ware off the re-draft board, we know Parcells still would have gone with a defensive pick. Tuck would play defensive end in the Cowboys' 3-4 scheme and rush the passer as a defensive tackle on passing downs.
20. Dallas Cowboys -- CB Adam Jones, West Virginia
Actual selection: DE Marcus Spears, LSU
Putting Jones here was just too good to pass up. Who else would want him? The Cowboys are the only team interested in this incredibly talented yet controversial player.
26. Seattle Seahawks -- RB Marion Barber, Minnesota
Actual selection: C Chris Spencer, Mississippi
The Seahawks don't know it yet, but RB Shaun Alexander is about to fall apart from overuse. There isn't a suitable player on the re-draft board who would have filled the Seahawks' 2005 needs, so we're giving them the best player available. Coach Mike Holmgren will thank us down the road.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers -- DE Chris Canty, Virginia
Actual selection: TE Heath Miller, Virginia
In '05 the Steelers' starting defensive end, Kimo Von Oelhoffen, was nearing the end of his rope, so they needed an infusion of young talent at this position. Canty, as he is proving now in Dallas, would have been an excellent fit for Pittsburgh's 3-4 front.
I only have one problem with this: Scouts, Inc. drafting Pacman Jones in the first round. If this is supposedly the respective teams re-drafting based on current knowledge, there is not one GM in the NFL that would draft Jones in the first round. The great thing is that instead of the Cowboys using a first rounder on Pacman they can get him this year for a 5th instead! We're geniuses!