I'm not going to pretend it that it would not have been nice to get some higher compensatory picks, especially since the Dallas Cowboys started off with three seventh-round slots already. But every pick in the NFL Draft is gold. Even that very last one.
The Cowboys have a reputation for doing well with late-round picks and undrafted free agents. The extra seventh-round slots this year essentially allow Dallas to grab five more players they would likely have been pursing as UDFAs, but now they can lock them up and not worry about some other team coming along and enticing them away.
But how many players can you ever hope to have contribute to your team as a seventh rounder or UDFA? Well, I thought I would take a look at who is on the Cowboys roster that fits that description, and, where applicable, what they contributed to the team last year. I must confess I got the idea from a couple of tweets by Mike Fisher.
#cowboys '12 UDFAs: McCray, Church, Costa, Albright, Parnell, Ogletree, Bailey, CJones, Kowalski, Lemon, Tanner, Beasley, Dunbar, Bass— mike fisher (@fishsports) March 25, 2014
He only used UFDAs and included several players that are gone now. I was interested both seventh rounders and UDFAs who were still with the team and had a chance to contribute this year. This is based on the current unofficial roster at DallasCowboys.com, and does not include the players signed to futures contracts, who are basically just trying out for the team with no guarantees. It does include the Restricted and Exclusive Rights Free Agents that the team is expected to at least bring back to camp. I only include games played (or on the active roster) and started for the Cowboys in 2013, although this table is drawn from all players currently signed to the roster. I figure, with almost half of Fisher's list above being gone, this would not be that long.
I was wrong.
Seem a little high? That is 21 players from last year, that are still on the roster, who came in the seventh round or (mostly) as UDFAs. I didn't count other notables like Miles Austin, since I was only looking at players still on the roster, and left off the guys on futures contracts, most of whom are also UDFAs. 21 players of the 53-man roster (OK, so not all were on the roster at the same time with the great revolving door of injury replacements, and Bass never was counted, but you get the idea). Three players who started every game (and did pretty well for the most part), not counting all three specialists who technically are three more starters. 87 starts altogether. The starting quarterback.
That is what a seventh-round pick can be worth. We are not just talking camp bodies or the occasional special teams ace. Many of these are key contributors. Most of them didn't even make it into the seventh round, but most likely should have.
Don't disrespect those compensatory picks. You never know what you will get. A nice backup. Someone with ceiling. A sixteen game starter.
They are gold.