In a fine (and, very unfortunately, final) article, Rabblerousr took a look Bob Sturm's premise that the Dallas Cowboys showed an inability to draft core players. Rabs deftly showed that Dallas is somewhat above average but, in true Jason Garrett form, has plenty of room to improve. Around the same time I took exception to a similar, earlier statement by the mighty Sturminator, that the 2012 and 2013 drafts looked "pretty bad". Specifically he said,
"I suppose that leads us to the front office. 12 months ago we were singing their praises. But, man, the 2013 draft looks pretty bad. 2012 is down to Tyrone Crawford who never distinguished himself after signing his deal and playing hurt."
Bob Sturm is, in my opinion, one of the best Cowboys writers out there and I take everything he has to say very soberly. But that does not mean I always agree with him and this statement seemed a stretch. Now, certainly some of the 2013 players haven't developed into massive successes, but a draft that produced a repeat Pro Bowler, two other starters, and a useful (at least for a brief time) running back surely isn't "bad".
First a look at those two drafts:
Round 1 - Morris Claiborne
Round 3 - Tyrone Crawford
Round 4 - Kyle Wilber
Round 4 - Matt Johnson
Round 5 - Danny Coale
Round 6 - James Hanna
Round 7 - Caleb McSurdy
Round 1 - Travis Frederick
Round 2 - Gavin Escobar
Round 3 - Terrance Williams
Round 3 - J.J. Wilcox
Round 4 - B. W. Webb
Round 5 - Joseph Randle
Round 6 - DeVonte Holloman
So I did a little comparison. With those 14 picks (2012 and 2013) Dallas produced one repeat Pro Bowler, four consistent starters, and three useful back up/special teams players (James Hanna, Kyle Wilber, and Joseph Randle). Now, whether or not they choose to re-sign some of those 2012 players or not, and despite releasing Joseph Randle already, they have received some solid use out of those players. While I am of the opinion that they received a lot more out of Gavin Escobar than most people believe, I am not going to bother rehashing that discussion and will concede for the sake of argument, that he has not been "useful".
What I will do, however, is compare that haul with the rest of the league. Below is a sortable table which details the entire NFL's 2012-13 drafts by number of Pro Bowl seasons, number of starting seasons, total approximate value, total games started, starts per pick and approximate value per pick. Dallas is, in line with Rabble's article, just about average to slightly above in most respects.
|Team||Picks||Pro Bowls||Starting Seasons||Total AV||Games Started||Starts per Pick||AV per Pick|
In addition to the table, I took a few notes on individual teams and their performances. The Cleveland Browns have very good numbers, but their three best picks in terms of approximate value are Trent Richardson, Mitchell Schwartz, and Brandon Weeden. Given that two of them are not on the team anymore and none of them are very good players, I'm calling the Cleveland success a statistical anomaly caused by the poor overall team allowing draft picks to thrive. In a similar vein, the Jacksonville Jaguars' three best picks from this draft are Jonathan Cyprien, Josh Evans, and Mike Harris, indicating an inflation of value on a poor team. The Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and St. Louis Rams stand out as the only teams to be a full standard deviation above the NFL average in both starts per pick and AV per pick. An outrageous amount of Carolina's performance on this chart can be traced to one guy: Luke Kuechly, who accounts for 40% of their total AV. The Rams have drafted well, which makes them the absolute poster child for how important having a quarterback is.
Other pieces of note include that Seattle does very well here, but largely because 2012 was an awesome draft for them. 2013 was nearly useless, with only 3 players still on the team and only Luke Wilson being a major contributor, accounting for more approximate value than the rest of the draft class combined. Also, as bad as Washington looks, it's even worse. Of their 69 total approximate value, 57 of it belongs to Alfred Morris and Robert Griffin III, both of whom may be on other teams next year. Of final note, Jerry Jones said immediately after the 2012 that Dallas would have picked Michael Brockers and Bobby Wagner had they not traded up for Morris Claiborne. Their 50 AV and seven seasons of starting would've pushed Dallas to the very top of both AV per pick and starts per pick. That trade turns out to have been a very costly mistake.
This chart includes 2015 Pro Bowls and starting seasons, but does NOT include 2015 approximate value, as that had not been finalized at the time of writing. Anyone who would like to see the raw data in spreadsheet form, with my other notes, can see it here.
So, where does all this leave Dallas? Right at (to be accurate, barely below) the NFL average in AV per pick and solidly above average in starts per pick. They are getting good utility out of their players and have an above average number of Pro Bowl appearances, which shows how hard it is to find a Pro Bowl caliber player as Dallas only has one (so far, obviously, there is hope that Tyrone Crawford can be another). As always, though, they will look at how they can get better and try to improve. Clearly the lesson for Dallas here is, "be very sure before you trade the farm for a player." The DeMarcus Lawrence trade is looking better so far, but only time will tell if the Cowboys learned their lesson.