The selection of Ezekiel Elliott has me extremely excited for the 2016 season. He's just an electrifying running back and he's joining a team with a prime opportunity to run for greatness. Not only is he remarkably talented, but he's so extremely competitive that he's the type of player that will take full advantage of his circumstances. This isn't a kid that is going to come in to this league and just chill. He's got one thing on his mind and it involves confetti.
While drafting Zeke has me overjoyed, it made me wonder when the last time I was this excited about a draft pick. I have to go back to 1989 when the team drafted Troy Aikman. The selection of Aikman gave me hope. Hope that another great quarterback would help bring winning back to this organization.
So I ask you, when were you last excited about a draft pick? Here are a couple names that come to mind:
2012 Morris Claiborne
Let's be honest here - if we are judging based on excitement, this one has merit. Many fans loved this pick. For me personally, I was livid. Not because I didn't like Claiborne (I didn't have much of an opinion about him personally because it caught me off guard), but because months of my draft research was rendered meaningless as the Cowboys wouldn't draft again until late in day two at pick 81. The chances of them selecting my favorite targets, David DeCastro and Lavonte David were no more.
The Cowboys double-dipped at cornerback during the offseason as they also signed Brandon Carr to a multi-year, bazillion dollar deal. The front office was trying to give defensive coordinator Rob Ryan something to work with and two strong CB acquisitions was a good start to beefing up the defense. And Ryan was not one to pass up beef. While these moves have been disastrous when you associate them with their cost, both these players still remain on the roster and have some value to the team...for at least one more year.
2005 DeMarcus Ware
After three straight 5-11 seasons under Dave Campo after the turn of the century, Bill Parcells started righting the ship. In his first season as coach in 2003, he led the team to 10-6 record and a trip to the playoffs. The Cowboys would struggle in 2004, only winning six games, but they would go out and get veteran quarterback Drew Bledsoe to help the offense. While we all know how things turned out with Bledsoe, it still was an exciting time for Dallas. Parcells would switch to a 3-4 defense after employing the 4-3 for its previous 45 years of existence. To help with the change, the Cowboys would draft two first-round defensive linemen - DeMarcus Ware (taken 11th overall) and Marcus Spears (20th).
Ware wasted no time making an impression as he was making plays week after week. Fans would love him immediately. He would record eight sacks his rookie season, capping it off with a three-sack game late in the season against Carolina.
1989 Troy Aikman
This was a difficult time for fans. After going 3-13 the previous season and learning that legendary coach, Tom Landry was fired - it felt like rock bottom. The Cowboys got a new coach and a new owner as the Jimmy Johnson & Jerry Jones era would begin. Johnson was a firecracker coach who appeared to exhibit all the meanness that Landry was missing. After reaching the pinnacle of success at the University of Miami, he was now in Dallas to help return them to glory. And that's exactly what he did. Little did fans know, it would get worse before it got better.
Not only would the Cowboys have a new owner and coach, but they would also get a new quarterback. The team earned the top pick in the draft and selected Troy Aikman from UCLA. He would replace Steve Pelluer as the starting quarterback. It would be an excruciating transition, but it would mark the beginning of something great to come in Dallas.
1977 Tony Dorsett
This goes back past any vivid recollection of my football memories, but for those a little older than me, you know of it all too well. The Cowboys were going deep into the playoffs in the ‘70s, including three Super Bowl appearances by the first half of the decade. And they finished the 1976 season with a divisional playoff loss against the Los Angeles Rams so they were established as one of the elite football teams in the league. Landing Tony Dorsett in the 1977 draft just didn't seem fair. The Cowboys would trade four picks (#14, #30, #41, and #54) to the Seattle Seahawks to move up to the second-overall pick to take Dorsett. The Heisman trophy winner was coming off a great season where he helped the Pittsburgh Panthers take home the National Championship.
Landry would ease Dorsett into the offense slowly as Tony didn't have more than 10 carries until the fourth game of the season. But once he got going, he was hell on wheels. Dorsett would become the first Cowboys player to rush for over 200 yards when he led the team to victory in week 12 against the Eagles. As a rookie, Dorsett would rush for over 1,000 yards and help the Cowboys win their second Super Bowl in franchise history.
The Cowboys offense was already very talented. They had an elusive quarterback who was 35 years-old and a wide receiver who wore #88 who was in the prime of his career. All they needed was a super-star college running back to help them become champions again.
It happened once. It can happen again.
Can you remember when it was the last time you were excited about a draft pick?