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How Historically Bad Was The Cowboys 2009 Draft?

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We know that the 2009 draft was bad, but now we have evidence of just how bad it ranks in NFL history.

Super Bowl LI - New England Patriots v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

No matter what happens at the 2017 NFL Draft, as long as the Dallas Cowboys don’t repeat 2009, there will at least be some hope. Because the 2009 Cowboys draft was devoid of any hope. It is often referred to as the special teams draft, with good reason. The fans and the Cowboys organization know it was a terrible draft, now we know just how bad as ESPN ranks the worst draft classes for each team in a recent article.

First, let’s review a bit. The Cowboys didn’t have a first-round pick in 2009 because of the WR Roy Williams trade with Detroit. They also traded their second-round pick during the draft and ended up with 12 overall picks. And promptly blew them all. Only six of the 12 actually made the 53-man roster. By 2013 not a single player from that draft was still on the Cowboys team.

ESPN ranked the worst draft class for each team based on AV, Pro Football Reference’s Approximate Value metric for ranking players contributions to their team based on a host of values. They also didn’t include any draft class that still had active members since they would still be contributing to the AV value.

On a historically bad level, the 2009 Cowboys draft class ranked 13th worst.

13. (tie) 2009 Dallas Cowboys (12 AV)

Dallas had no first-round pick after dealing it to the Lions for wide receiver Roy Williams the previous season, and Jerry Jones traded out of the second round as well. The Cowboys ended up with 12 picks in Rounds 3 through 7, but didn't strike much gold. Third-round linebacker Jason Williams played sparingly over a season-plus with the Cowboys but had only one tackle. Linebacker Victor Butler (fourth round) was a decent special-teamer and backup for four seasons with Dallas. Backup tight end John Phillips (sixth round) played in the NFL as recently as last season. He had 20 starts in backup duty over three seasons with Dallas before leaving in free agency.

Here is the list of players drafted that year.

Round/Overall Pick/Player/Position

3 / 69 / Jason Williams / Linebacker

3 / 75 / Robert Brewster / Offensive Tackle

4 / 101 / Stephen McGee / Quarterback

4 / 110 / Victor Butler / Linebacker

4 / 120 / Brandon Williams / Defensive End

5 / 153 / DeAngelo Smith / Cincinnati

5 / 166 / Michael Hamlin / Safety

5 / 172 / David Buehler / Kicker

6 / 197 / Stephen Hodge / Safety

6 / 208 / John Phillips / Tight End

7 / 227 / Mike Mickens / Cornerback

7 / 229 / Manuel Johnson / Wide Receiver

The Cowboys first problem was trading their second-round pick. Reviewing it later, then Cowboys college scouting director Chris Hall said:

“We traded the 51st pick for the 75th and 110th pick,” Hall said. “We lost about 110 points on any draft chart you look at. We left a first-round pick in LeSean McCoy on the board. We didn’t take Phil Loadholt, who had a higher grade.”

The Cowboys had Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice so they didn’t draft McCoy. They had injury concerns on Loadholt and didn’t take him. Instead they traded out and ended up with Jason Williams.

And here are some players the Cowboys could have picked after they made that trade but passed on.

Defensive end Michael Johnson taken at pick #70, right after Jason Williams. LB DeAndre Levy (#76), WR Mike Williams (#84), CB Ladarius Webb (#88) among others.

If you want to read a dissection of that draft and how it all went wrong, check out this article at the Mothership.