clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

What If The Cowboys Had Listened To ESPN's Mel Kiper And Todd McShay In The Last Five Drafts?

New, comments

If the Dallas Cowboys had listened to ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay, here’s what their draft haul might've looked like over the past five years...

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Mock drafters almost always look silly once their carefully constructed mock drafts are compared with the actual draft results. Mel Kiper once defined a successful mock draft as one with at least 5 direct hits (correct player is matched to the correct team) and 27 correctly predicted first-round players.

That doesn't sound particularly impressive if you believe mock drafts are supposed to be predictors of which players go to which teams. But consider that by their very nature, most mock drafts are inherently inaccurate. And for the most part, that is less an indictment of a particular writer's football knowledge but owes much more to the inherent unpredictability of the draft.

The Huddle Report hands out mock draft scores every year and is the longest running such scoring available for NFL mock drafts. Their system is based on correctly predicting the player in the round (1 point) and matching the player with the correct team (3 points). Kiper's five correct hits (15 points) and the other 22 first rounders (22 points) would result in 37 points for a mock draft - a point total only 17 of the 115 mock drafts evaluated by the Huddle Report achieved last year.

Two of the most notable names in the mock draft business, ESPN's Mel Kiper and Todd McShay, have been dominating the mock draft headlines for years, so today we ask ourselves what would have happened if the Cowboys had followed the pair's mock draft suggestions in each of the last five drafts.

In the mock draft world, there's only one mock that ultimately counts: the final mock draft published before the actual draft. That doesn't stop mock drafters from inundating us with countless mocks before that final one, but none of them carries any real weight. Which is why today we'll look at Kiper's and McShay's final mock drafts from 2010-2014. Before we go there though, here is a summary of the last five Dallas Cowboys first-round picks, along with some metrics we'll use to evalute the picks.

Year Player All
Pro
Pro
Bowls
Starter
Season
Games
Stared
Approximate
Value
2010 Dez Bryant 1 2 4 61 52
2011 Tyron Smith 1 2 4 63 46
2012 Morris Claiborne 0 0 1 25 9
2013 Travis Frederick 0 1 2 32 20
2014 Zack Martin 1 1 1 16 14
Total 3 6 12 197 141

Overall, that's quite an impressive haul, and a part of why Jerry Jones was named NFL Executive of the Year. Six Pro Bowl seasons, 12 out of a maximum of 15 starter seasons, almost 200 starts and a very impressive Appoximate Value of 141. And all of that despite Morris Claiborne failing to live up to his draft pedigree (so far).

Here are the players Mel Kiper had the Cowboys picking in his final mock drafts of each year:

Year Player POS All
Pro
Pro
Bowls
Starter
Season
Games
Stared
Approximate
Value
2010 Rodger Saffold OT 0 0 4 60 26
2011 Cameron Jordan DE 0 1 3 63 34
2012 Quinton Coples DE 0 0 2 30 18
2013 Sylvester Williams DT 0 0 1 17 9
2014 Ryan Shazier LB 0 0 0 5 2
Total 0 1 10 175 89

That's not a bad haul. Kiper would have had the Cowboys drafting five solid starters, but these selections lack the postseason accolades the Cowboys picks garnered, and fall off quite a bit in terms of approximate value.

On to McShay's final mock picks for the Cowboys:

Year Player POS All
Pro
Pro
Bowls
Starter
Season
Games
Stared
Approximate
Value
2010 Dez Bryant
WR 1 2 4 61 52
2011 J.J. Watt
DE 3 3 4 64 68
2012 Michael Brockers DT 0 0 3 44 21
2013 Sheldon Richardson
DT 0 1 2 31 15
2014 Johnny Manziel QB 0 0 0 2 1
Total 4 6 13 202 157

This would have been a very impressive haul overall for the Cowboys. And if McShay hadn't let himself be suckered into the ridiculous Manziel hype last year, his overall results might have looked even more impressive. Obviously, any draft that contains J.J. Watt will look impressive, but the Cowboys' totals aren't too far away from McShay's outside of the number of All Pro nominations.

Also noteworthy: McShay's picks have accumulated 80 sacks since they were drafted, Kiper's totaled 47.5. If the Cowboys had followed either draftnik's picks, their defensive line would probably be one of the very best in the league today.

At the same time, if the Cowboys had listened to ESPN, their offensive line would likely have ranked near the bottom of the league for the last five years, Tony Romo's career might be over, DeMarco Murray would not have broken Emmitt Smith's franchise rushing record, and Dez Bryant wouldn't be looking for a monster payday.

Overall, both Kiper and McShay - like many Cowboys fans, including yours truly - had the Cowboys focusing heavily on the defensive line over the last five years. The Cowboys went in the opposite direction and invested in their O-line, which ultimatley resulted in last year's 12-4 season. Whether they could have achieved the same result by focusing on the D-line can be debated endlessly, and ultimately comes down to your personal philosophy regarding the game of football. By now, most Cowboys fans will agree that games are won in the trenches, but which side of the trench is the more important side?