We’re starting a four-part series outlining the best draft picks the Dallas Cowboys have made since their last Super Bowl championship in 1995. Going through the draft selections over almost the last twenty years is telling: while each draft can bring one or two talented players, there are many drafts that go by without any true glory. This exercise also makes you appreciate just how valuable high draft picks are. For example, in 2009, when the Cowboys were struggling, their highest picks were a pair of third-rounders, thanks to the disastrous Roy Williams trade with the Detroit Lions.
The Dallas Cowboys have done significantly better than the rest of the league with their draft selections. Without further ado, let's take a look at the top-five first-round picks the Cowboys have made, in order of when they were drafted.
DeMarcus Ware, 2005
Alex Smith, Ronnie Brown, Braylon Edwards, Cedric Benson, Carnell Williams, Adam Jones, Troy Williamson, Antrel Rolle, Carlos Rodgers and Mike Williams were taken ahead of DeMarcus Ware in the 2005 draft. With the exception of Alex Smith and Adam Jones, none of those players are in the NFL anymore. The Dallas Cowboys struck absolute gold with DeMarcus Ware as he was the consummate professional and sack artist for the Cowboys during his long career in Dallas. He went on the win a championship with Denver and recently retired, but expect him to be the next Ring of Honor recipient, and a possible first ballot Hall of Famer.
Dez Bryant, 2010
Dez Bryant was yearning to play for his childhood team, the Dallas Cowboys. While there was drama surrounding his career in the early years, his reputation has significantly improved as he is viewed as a leader in the locker room. His on the field performance has been stellar, and if it’s too bad he didn’t get credit for a completed catch in Green Bay a few years ago. While he has teetered in the discussion as a top-tier wide receiver, he still has a lot to prove during the duration of his tenure with the Cowboys.
Tyron Smith, 2011
Selecting Tyron Smith in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft was a seismic shift for Jerry Jones and his front office. At the time, it was the first time he had selected an offensive lineman in the first round. He has been rewarded in every possible way as Tyron Smith has exceeded all expectations as he is considered the best left tackle in the National Football League. Equally important, his presence influenced future drafts where the Jones’ went on to solidify the offensive line by selecting Travis Frederick and Zack Martin in successive years.
Travis Frederick, 2013
As the Dallas Cowboys headed into the 2013 draft, there was quite a bit of pressure to focus on the defense given that Tony Romo and his offensive weapons were primed for success. Given how successful the Tyron Smith selection was, the Dallas Cowboys instead selected Frederick in the top round of the 2013 draft. While they were mocked and made fun of, they ultimately got the last laugh as Frederick has solidified himself as the top center in the game and will be a perennial All Pro player.
Ezekiel Elliott, 2016
With the exception of selecting Troy Aikman and Russell Maryland as the top overall picks in the 1989 and 1991 drafts, this 2016 draft presented Jerry Jones with the highest draft pick of his career. With the fourth-overall selection, he selected Ezekiel Elliott, which proved to be an excellent choice. His on the field performance during his rookie season was unparalleled and his vision, quickness and athleticism will keep him in the discussion for the best running backs in the NFL.
Other first-round picks for the Cowboys since 1995.
David LaFleur (1997), Greg Ellis (1998), Ebenezer Ekuban (1999), Roy Williams (2002), Terence Newman (2003), Marcus Spears (2005), Bobby Carpenter (2006), Anthony Spencer (2007), Felix Jones (2008), Mike Jenkins (2008), Morris Claiborne (2012), Zack Martin (2014), Byron Jones (2015).
Do you agree or should one of the other draft picks be in the top five? Maybe Terence Newman or Zack Martin. Hit the comments and tell us your top five.