When you look at the draft process and see what the Cowboys have done over the past few seasons, it certainly looks like they are moving in the right direction. However, looks can be deceiving at times. The Cowboys have been average at best at picking after the third round and the reality is that those picks are pretty valuable in terms of building a team.
Over the past six years, Dallas has hit on most of their first-round picks. We're talking Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, and Byron Jones all looking like good picks. In that span, only Morris Claiborne comes to mind as a potential bust, but he just got re-upped to stay in Dallas. All those guys are first-round picks, three of them are All-Pros, one is a perennial Pro Bowl center and the other is about as athletic as you can find in any defensive back.
The Cowboys have been pretty solid at making those first-day picks, they don't seem to have many problems when it comes to the top talent. Where they get themselves in trouble is finding those invaluable role players that complete your team and create a winning roster. Let me preface this by saying that there are teams in this league that are far worse off than what Dallas does.
In fact, most draft gurus will tell you that in the first three rounds, about the top-100 players or so, you are finding starters for your team. In rounds 4-7, you are looking for traits in players that can be developed into a potential starter or a role that fits the depth chart. Sometimes, those late rounds can bear fruit. Guys like Jay Ratliff, Marion Barber, and Orlando Scandrick come to mind. However, for the Cowboys, that's not the norm by any means.
Since 2010, the Cowboys have hit on about three of a potential 24 players from rounds four and on. Those three would be Dwayne Harris, Kyle Wilber, and Anthony Hitchens. We will leave the 2015 class alone since it's a little early. I would venture to say that it's not very encouraging that most of them couldn't get playing time last season. Those numbers can seem a little discouraging when you think about it. Especially, when you look just at the Packers and see they have seven late-rounders you could count. Richard Rogers, J.C. Tretter, Micah Hyde, Mike Daniels, Davon House, Andrew Quarless and James Starks have all been good finds for the Cheeseheads. Not impressive enough? How about guys like Richard Sherman being a fifth-rounder. What about Antonio Brown, Alfred Morris, and Greg Hardy all being taken in the sixth?
It's just as important to find the diamonds in the rough than it is to find the Pro Bowlers. It's imperative that the Cowboys find as many contributors as possible in this year's draft. You would think that with all those picks, they will have plenty of room to make good. Need I remind you of the 2009 draft? All those picks and nothing to show, yet it seems that 2009 was just a horrible year in general. It's hard to draft well and most certainly after the top-100 picks are long gone.
This needs to be the day where Will McClay makes his bread because that's what many are of the belief is his strength and the Cowboys desperately need to get it right. It's not a one-man show as we all know and the entire staff needs to look hard at the numbers. You can't have 53 All-Pros on your roster, this isn't Madden. Somewhere along the way, there have to be some blue-collar workers in there. Jason Garrett loves to preach about competition and getting players that love the game of football no matter where they came from. Well, now they need to put their money where their mouths are and hit on a few.
Nine picks. They have nine picks in this year's draft and this is a year where most say depth will rule supreme. It couldn't come at a better time for a team with several holes to fill. Many of those holes have a deep class coming up. Dallas needs cornerbacks and defensive line help, well, there are plenty of corners and tackles around. It's fine and dandy that the Cowboys currently have three picks in the top-100 but they have six outside of that.
The Cowboys didn't fall into the trap of spending big in free agency. They have washed their hands of Greg Hardy and kept their own contributors instead. With that said, they have a huge draft ahead of them because just about any position could be argued for at some point. It's going to be an uphill battle once again as Jerry Jones said in his opening statements to the team in 2014. They can really be successful by putting together a solid draft haul and mixing in those picks from last season. There is strength in numbers. They have a number of resources, let's just hope they can improve and put forth some third-day heroics this month. Cowboy up, scouting department.