Cowboy Drafts - 10 year Review

Inspired by OCC's Emulation Post this AM, I clicked through to an analysis of Colts drafts by poster JesusNinja13 on Stampede Blue. Applying a few simple metrics, he made quick work of assessing overall quality and answering a criticism if trend lines are either up or down for Bil Polian/Indy.

Taking this tact, I modified some criteria and set out to review the last 10 years of Dallas Cowboy drafting - going back into the 90's didn't seem that relevant and I couldn't stand the pain, anyway.

Two simple metrics:

1) Assessment of players picked, regardless of where picked. So it gives no weight, either to how many or few #1's or #7's DAL had. This is qualitative, subject to an interpretation of what level of performance a player has achieved. This proved trickier than expected - was P Crayton a better player than Marcus Spears? How do you asses the entirety of RW(S), MBIII? If there was some good, some, bad, I tried to take the average.

Scoring Metrics: All Pro - 4, Stud - 3, Good enough - 2, Meh(akaJAG) - 1, Worthless - 0

2) Total number of Contributors from the class. This is quantitative, simply volume driven, or 'how many' each year. I took the Colts Average of 4.4 as an Above Average metric for the league

It also became quickly apparent this would be an exercise in relative comparison, not absolute evaluation. Picks were not weighted for Round or position in Round; individual Drafts however, could be compared - against each other and the whole. Opportunity cost was not calculated - picking J Jones instead of S Jackson, for example.

I am deliberately omitting the detailed analysis as I feel the debate is not about the scoring, but the performance of this function. It's not statistically significant anyway. If anything, I probably overvalued a few players, but only slightly. It certainly didn't change the Results

2001 Draft - 9 picks, no #1

Best - 3 JAG's - Carter, Dixon, Lehr

Overall - Disaster, part of the Lost years de Campo

2002 Draft - 9 picks, 2 #2

Best - R Williams AP, A Gurode S, A Bryant GE

Overall - Above average, especially at the top

2003 Draft - 7 Picks, 2 #6

Best - J Witten AP, TNew S, A Johnson, B James GE

Overall - Above average, clear Parcells impact

2004 Draft - 8 picks, 3 #7

Best - P Crayton GE

Overall - Below Average, some quality at the bottom. When you miss this badly on the highest picks tough to save a Draft.

2005 Draft - 8 picks, 2#1 & #6

Best - D Ware, J Ratliff AP, M Spears, MBIII GE

Overall - argument could be made for best class of the decade, certainly of the Parcells era

2006 Draft - 8 picks, 2#7

'Best' - A Fasano, J Hatcher, P Watkins

Overall - quickly followed by the worst of the Parcells era, 3rd worst of the Decade. Largely ST fodder

2007 Draft - 8 picks, 2#4, #6 & #7

Best - A Spencer, N Folk GE

Overall - slightly above average, still some big misses

2008 Draft - 6 picks, 2#1

Best - F Jones, M Jenkins, M Bennett, T Choice, O Scandrick GE

Overall - good, not great. Yet

2009 Draft - 12 picks, no #1, 3#4 with 2 #3, #5, #6, #7

'Best' - J Phillips GE

Overall - absolutely terrible. The Lost Draft - tied with '01 for worst of Decade

2010 Draft - 6 picks, no #3 #5

Best - D Bryant S, S Lee GE

Overall - Solid so far, could improve with contribution from AOA


1) DAL drafted 78 players from 2001-2010 cumulative score was 74, meaning if they had picked JAG at every position DAL would have scored higher.

Quality: Grade C - simply not championship level, somehow the phrase 'stuck in mediocre' keeps coming to mind

2) Consistency was completely lacking with Good drafts often immediately followed by Bad and seeding did not appear to be the factor. The 10 year period produced 5 Above Average('02, '03, '05, '07, '08)along with 4 Below Average('01, '04, '06, '09) and 1 Average('10)

Coherence: Grade D - little rhyme nor reason can be inferred, yet many have been offered

3) DAL Avg of 3.6 Contributors per class is almost a full body less than IND or -20% by comparison. Which means we overpay for expensive FA's, try to get middling FA talent on the cheap and/or have to rely on UDFA. There are successes and failures on all these. Just seems like the top teams do it differently, as in better

Volume: Grade C

4) DAL baffling attraction towards < 4th Rd picks and seeming aversion to Picks 1-3 could certainly be a factor, but that is a discussion for a different day

Mass Confusion: Grade D

5) DAL performance picking Top Talent looks woefully deficient for a supposedly championship team, at least over the last 5 years. Between DWare and S Bryant - 5 Drafts, not 1 Stud. The fact that neither Felix nor someone like Jenkins is realistically in this discussion says a lot

Star Power: Grade D

A revealing undertaking that leaves me with the nagging thought - why would I believe anything Jerry Jones said after the clasterfrack this reveals? Is there reason for optimism, because frankly past performance is an awfully concerning indicator at this point. The elephant in the room remains, as always with little but the law of averages giving me reason to believe. And as we all know, hope is not a very good strategy

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.