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Five-year grades for the first round of the 2013 draft and how the Cowboys are still cashing in

The Cowboys love collecting former first-rounders from 2013.

NFL: International Series-New Orleans Saints at Miami Dolphins Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys 2016 draft haul was outstanding. They got Ezekiel Elliott. They got Dak Prescott. Even Jaylon Smith still has a shot at turning into something special.

And when we look back at the 2014 draft, that one wasn’t too shabby either. Zack Martin and DeMarcus Lawrence are going to be rich men this offseason. And the fourth-round selection of Anthony Hitchens has definitely been worth the investment as we hope the team is able to retain him as well.

But then if you go back a year further, you’ll find the less extraordinary 2013 draft. You may know players like Travis Frederick, Terrance Williams, and... well, that’s about it. While two starters over the last five years, one of which is an All Pro, is nothing to be too disappointed about, it still comes up short in contrast to these other successful drafts in recent years.

While the Cowboys don’t have many of their own selections left on this roster, they have managed to collect some other players drafted that year. Walter Football recently did a five-year re-grade of the 2013 NFL Draft and there are a handful of first-round players that are of particular interest to Cowboys fans.

Let’s revisit that big day, shall we?

With the 7th pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals select...

Original Write-up:

Everyone points to the Saints and their stud guards as a reason why Jonathan Cooper should have been chosen No. 7 overall. Well, Jahri Evans and Carl Nicks were chosen in the fourth and fifth rounds. You can find guards anywhere, making this selection incredibly stupid. The only thing that saves this from being a Millen grade is that Cooper is one of the top players available. Still, there’s no reason a guard should ever go in the top 10.

There is no doubt that guard Jonathan Cooper hasn’t lived up to his top 10 draft price. He has bounced around on a few different teams, but had a solid season for the Cowboys before hurting his knee in the season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles. While Dallas could be looking for a new starting left guard in the upcoming draft, Cooper is still roster-worthy and many fans wouldn’t mind seeing him return as depth if his knee is good to go.

With the 15th pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints select...

Original Write-up:

This is a very good pick by a smart team. The Saints had major issues at safety, and Kenny Vaccaro is one of the top players available. With Matt Ryan and Cam Newton in the division, New Orleans absolutely had to upgrade its secondary. Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper weren’t cutting it.

Why is this worth mentioning? Well, Vaccaro’s name has come up as a possible target in free agency. While his five-year grade has slipped slightly, that could end up being a good thing for Dallas. Injuries have been an issue throughout his career, but he has been a good player when he’s been healthy.

The Cowboys need help at safety and he would be a good add, but how much will he cost? Could they add another former first-rounder who could step in and become a starter at a position of need?

With the 23rd pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings select...

Original Write-up:

Wow, I forgot Sharrif Floyd was available. I feel like some of the other teams like the Bears, Giants and Cowboys did as well. This is the best pick in the 2013 NFL Draft thus far. Floyd is a stud interior pass-rusher who could have easily gone No. 3 to the Raiders. But as we see every year, great prospects fall because dumb teams are picking at the top of the draft.

Cowboys fans know the significance of this pick as he caused a divide in the war room when they were on the clock at pick 18. The scouts had a high grade on Floyd and as you can tell from the original write-up, it looked like a gift had fallen in the Cowboys lap. But the coaching staff wasn’t so sure. The team ultimately ended up trading out of this pick instead of taking the star defensive tackle from Florida. This confusion led to the promotion of Will McClay as well as landing an All Pro in the trenches, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

With the 26th pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers select...

Original Write-up:

Datone Jones has been discussed as high as No. 19 to the Giants, so the Packers are getting good value with Datone Jones. They’re also getting a tremendous upgrade on the defensive line. Green Bay was completely obliterated by Colin Kaepernick, so the team needed to find players to help them stop the read option. Jones is a great fit, as Ted Thompson continues to be one of the better drafters in the NFL.

Just like the Cowboys did at the end of the 2016 season with Jonathan Cooper, the team decided to kick the tires on a former first-round flame out. Dallas brought Datone Jones onto the team for the last few games of the season. He actually played decent and last month and we identified him as an under the radar weapon for the Cowboys next season. He’s under contract for only $790,000 so they’ll get a chance to see if he adds anything to the teams defensive front.

With the 31st pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys select...

Original Write-up:

Travis Frederick!?!? The Wisconsin lineman who was considered a third-round prospect? There were other reaches in the first round, but this takes the cake. It seems like the Cowboys panicked with all of the guards flying off the board, which is the worst thing you can ever do in the NFL Draft. It’s never been more obvious that Dallas needs a real general manager.

It’s always nice when you panic, but then turn around and pull an All-Pro out of your hat. While this pick was met with heavy criticism, we can now all laugh about it over a couple of lemonades. Not only did the Cowboys grab one of the top centers in the league, they grabbed an extra third-round pick that they used to select Terrance Williams. And more important than anything else, it was a defining moment that led to more draft authority being given to McClay. And us fans are thankful for that as there have been some really great decisions made by this organization over the last few years.

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