Fox Sports last week compiled team reports for all 32 NFL teams and broke down the last three drafts for all teams in the process, including the Cowboys' last three drafts.
According to Foxsports, the Cowboys had a total of 24 picks over the last three years - Foxsports apparently don't think supplemental picks are worth a mention - of which only three were starters in 2010. That compares to an NFL average of 6.2 starters drafted per team over the last three years, or about 2 starters per draft class per team. Of the Cowboys' picks 13 more are backups, four are now with other NFL teams, three are out of the NFL altogether and one is on the IR list.
Three starters in three years? That cannot be good. After the break, we look at what Foxsports are saying about the Cowboys and how the Cowboys compare to the other teams in the league.
Foxsports doesn't have a lot of positive things to say about the Cowboys in their team report:
That the Cowboys got three starters out of 24 picks in the last three drafts is damning enough. This three-year period was marred by a dreadful 2008 draft [colloquially refereed to as '2009' by Cowboys fans] that was already hampered because of the Roy Williams trade with Detroit, robbing them of picks in the first and second round. Still, the Cowboys had a total of 12 picks, six of which were already cut by year two. The best pick might end up being backup tight end[known as John Phillips in Dallas], who was a sixth rounder.
Best pick: Wide receiver Dez Bryant, 2010 (first round, 24th overall): The Cowboys got a top-10 talent late in the first round because of questionable off-the-field baggage from college. Bryant is the real deal as a receiver and has a chance to be very special as a game-breaker in the kicking game as well as at receiver.
Worst pick: Linebacker Jason Williams, 2009 (third round, 69th overall): This was a questionable pick from the outset because of his pedigree of coming from tiny Western Illinois. Williams was slow to make the jump from the small school to the big time. He couldn't even make an impact on special teams despite his speed. The Cowboys cut him last year.
While it's news to me that Roy Williams cost the Cowboys "picks in the first and second round", three starters out of 24 picks is simply not good enough. By Foxsports' counting methodology, three teams garnered ten starters each out of the last three drafts, the Chiefs, Lions and Buccaneers, while four other teams also only netted three starters in the last three years (Ravens, Redskins, Vikings, Jets).
Before this season, I might have given some credence to the argument that Dallas has so much talent that any rookie may find it harder to become a starter in Dallas than on most other teams. Today I'm not so sure anymore.
But the 13 backups the Cowboys have on their roster from the last three drafts is the second best value in the league. Perhaps there is at least a nugget of truth to it when fans say that a number of backups on the Cowboys roster would be starters on other teams.
Here's a sortable list of all NFL teams and their draft success, based on the Foxsports numbers. Click on the column headers to sort the data.
|Team||Picks '08-'10 ||2010 Starters||2010 Backups||Other NFL teams||Out Of NFL||IR/PUP|
|Kansas City Chiefs||27||10||6||2||7||2|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||22||10||7||0||5||0|
|St. Louis Rams||26||8||8||1||6||3|
|New England Patriots||32||7||13||8||2||2|
|San Francisco 49ers||21||6||6||5||1||3|
|Green Bay Packers||24||5||10||3||1||5|
|New York Giants||23||5||8||3||4||3|
|New Orleans Saints||16||5||5||3||2||1|
|New York Jets||13||3||7||1||2||0|
|San Diego Chargers||19||1||3||0||2||2|
The Foxsports team report makes no mention of who the three Cowboys starters in 2010 might be, but they are likely to be Mike Jenkins (16 starts), Martellus Bennett (12 starts) and perhaps David Buehler. Felix Jones (7 starts) and Chris Gronkowski (7) are just below the starter threshold, while Orlando Scandrick (3), Dez Bryant (2) and Sean Lee (0) were still some way away from becoming starters last year.
The Cowboys will have to increase their 'hit rate' in this year's draft, particularly given their high draft spot. But success next year will also depend on whether the 13 backups on the team from the last three drafts will be able to successfully challenge for a starting spot.
Which player from the last three draft classes would you like to see emerge as a starter in the 2011 season (whatever that season will look like)?