Under the sponsorship of Bud Light, BTB is going to countdown the Top 10 Biggest Draft Busts and Biggest Draft Successes for the Dallas Cowboys in the Jerry Jones era. We're starting with the Top 10 Biggest Successes first, then we'll do the Busts after that.
The first guideline we decided on was to limit our search to the Jerry Jones era. Try to keep it a little topical. The next thing we (meaning myself and the other front-page writers) had to do was define a 'draft success'. There were a few ways we could go on this, but in the end we decided a draft success basically had to start from the 3rd round on. If we didn't, then the list could conceivably be a list of the top players in the Jerry Jones era. I mean, Emmitt Smith in the middle of the first-round is a huge success, so we'd have to put him on the list. Ditto Troy Aikman, who even though was a #1 pick, was still a huge success, and on and on. So we decided to at least make it guys who were kind-of overlooked (or really overlooked) but went on to great success.
OCC, rabblerousr, and KD all submitted lists and I kind of took the role of reconciling them and putting them in an order.
So, let's kick it off with #10 Daft Success of the Jerry Jones era. Bradie James.
#10 - Bradie James (2003, 4th round, #103, ILB, LSU): Sometimes we overlook the job Bradie James has done for the Dallas Cowboys. He's not the most dynamic linebacker in the league, but he's steady and durable. When James was drafted, he spent the first couple of years backing-up Dexter Coakley. During that time, he mostly saw the field as a special teams player, and there were a few whispers that he might not end up as starter material. That was quickly put to rest when he took over the starting role in 2005 and hasn't relinquished it.
James has never missed a game since he took over as the starting ILB. That's pretty remarkable given the high-traffic, violent-contact that takes place between ILBs in the 3-4 defense and the offensive line. He regularly leads the Cowboys defense in tackles, and while he's definitely not a great cover linebacker, he's helped lead the Cowboys defense to strong production in terms of limiting the opponent's rushing game. He's also the leader on the field as the guy who calls the defensive sets, and a leader in the lockerroom.
Not bad for a 4th-round pick.
Other miscellaneous stats: 15.5 career sacks, 2 INTs and has scored a TD.
Here a few honorable mentions who just missed the list.
Honorable Mention - Marion Barber (2005, 4th round, #109, RB, Minnesota) - (rabblrousr comment): Marion Barber was electrifying in the first half of his career in Dallas, and still is occasionally, but nagging injuries have seen him struggle for the last two years --- For a couple of years there, he was the heart and soul of the Dallas offense.
Honorable Mention - Kenny Gant (1990, 9th round, #221, DB, Albany State) - (rabblrousr comment): For a stretch of time, he was the best special teams player in the league. In round nine? Mighty fine. (KD comment): A special teams ace for the Cowboys SB run, and a more than decent nickel defender. Besides, who doesn't love the shark dance?
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