We all remember the 2009 draft class. The last player from that less-than-stellar group to leave Dallas was Victor Butler who departed prior to the 2013 season. In case you have forgotten how bad that group really was, here is a reminder. In 2009 Dallas had twelve picks, and they did not make a selection until the third round. Of those 12 players chosen only six made the Cowboys roster. The team did not develop a single starter from the draft class. In all fairness, if you want to consider the kicker as a "starter" then you can say that David Buehler went against the trend. A dismal draft class for the league was a catastrophic failure for the Dallas Cowboys.
Now that we have that horrific memory fresh in our minds, let's take a look at how the team has fared since hitting rock bottom in the draft. In this piece we will focus on the 2010 draft class.
Dez Bryant - WR , Oklahoma State
What can we say about Dez that has not already been said. He is coming off of his second consecutive trip to the Pro Bowl, and in 2014 he was a first team All-Pro selection. He has emerged as one of the top pass catchers in the league and he is continuing the legacy of great Dallas wide receivers that have gone on before him. Bryant is the type of player that teams must account for on every snap. He has also begun to emerge as one of the leaders on the team.
In 2014 he accounted for 88 catches and 1,320 yards receiving, the second best of his career. He also found the endzone a team record 16 times on the season. It was the third straight year that he eclipsed the 1,000 yard make and accounted for double-digit touchdowns. For his career Dez is approaching the 5,500 yard mark, which he should surpass during Week 1 of the upcoming season.
Sean Lee - LB, Penn State
Lee has been everything you would expect from the player whom Joe Paterno referred to as the best linebacker he ever coached. The problem has been in keeping Sean on the field. He plays the game the way we all love to see it played, with intensity and passion. It is that style of play, and perhaps a bit of bad luck thrown in, that has prevented Lee from completing a season. In 2014 he would not see a single snap thanks to an injury suffered during OTA's. As the man who makes the Dallas defense go, Lee's loss was a devastating blow to a team that already had major concerns on defense.
A healthy Sean Lee can be a game changer on defense in much the same way as Bryant is on offense. He has a coaches level knowledge of defensive schemes and his instincts for what is taking place are among the best in the game. Dallas may move him to an outside linebacker slot for 2015 in an attempt to help minimize the wear and tear that he suffers through the season and to help increase his availability to the team.
Akwasi Owusu-Ansah - Safety, Indiana University (PA)
Owusu-Ansah was a "project" pick in the fourth round. In need of a player to man one of the safety spots, Dallas selected the small-college cornerback and attempted to develop him into a safety. He had proven to be something of a ballhawk in college and that, plus his raw athletic ability, appealed to the Dallas front office. In his first stint with the team, Owusu-Ansah lasted almost two full seasons before being released after playing in seven games. He returned to the team for a brief second stint when Dallas claimed him off waivers from Jacksonville in May of 2012. He was released during final roster cuts.
Akwasi played for a total of five teams during an NFL career that came to an end when he was released by the Detroit Lions in May of last year.
Sam Young - OT, Notre Dame
Sam Young arrived in Dallas after being a four-year started for the Fighting Irish. His college career started with a flourish, he was a Freshman All-American, and he continued to be a solid left tackle during his time in South Bend. That trend did not continue at Valley Ranch. Sam played in three games for the Cowboys during his rookie season, all on special teams. After a disastrous training camp in 2011 he was released by the team.
Since leaving Dallas, Young played two years for the Buffalo Bills and he is currently a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He is primarily a special teams guy but he made a hand full of starts at right tackle during his tenure will the Bills.
Jamar Wall - CB, Texas Tech
Wall was drafted in the sixth round, and he was released prior to the start of the 2010 season. He was claimed off the waiver wire by the Houston Texans and played special teams for them in the opening game of the season. Wall was soon released by that club. From Houston, Jamar made his way to the Philadelphia Eagles practice squad and eventually found himself on their active roster for the final two games of his only NFL season. Since that time, Wall has found success first in the Arena League and later the CFL. Last season he was a member of the Grey Cup champion Calgary Stampeders and a 2014 CFL All-Star.
Sean Lissemore - DT, William & Mary
Sean Lissemore was one of those seventh-round defensive tackles that always seem to do a solid job for the Cowboys. In his rookie season, Sean saw action in two games, after being inactive for the first six games of the season. On the opening kickoff of his second professional game, Lissy suffered a ankle injury that ended his season. During his second season in the league, Sean saw action in all 16 games as part of the Cowboys defensive line rotation. He recorded 39 tackles that season while serving in a reserve role. The following season he remained a member of the rotation until an injury to Jay Ratliff bumped him in to a starting role for six games.
When Dallas made the switch from a base 3-4 defense to a 4-3, Lissemore was traded to the San Diego Charges for a 2015 seventh-round draft pick. He is still a member of the organization. While a Charger, Sean recorded his first career interception and he scored a touchdown for the Bolts.
Five years after the draft, all but one of the players selected are still active in professional football. Four of those have found some form of professional success, although not all of that success is in the NFL. Only one has moved on to other endeavors. That is not a bad percentage at the five year mark. The 2010 draft class has proven to be a fairly solid group of players.