The Dallas Cowboys draft well. We all know about their track record in the first round with selecting All-Pro’s. Since Jason Garrett has been the team’s head coach, the Cowboys have grabbed four players on Day 1 that have turned into star players - Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, and Ezekiel Elliott. In fact, Martin became the first Cowboys rookie to be named All-Pro since Calvin Hill did it in 1969. But then, two years later, Zeke comes along and does the same thing. That’s some first-rate first-round drafting right there.
Of course, things haven’t always been rosy after the first round as the front office has taken some risks in round two. The Cowboys have been criticized for drafting Randy Gregory and Jaylon Smith. And after missing some serious time due to the downside of those risks, both are geared up to make a splash this season. The jury is still out on those two.
DeMarcus Lawrence was the first player to break the “second-round curse” after a breakout season last year where he had 14.5 sacks and earned All-Pro honors. He played through his rookie contract and a second contract could be right around the corner as the team has placed the franchise tag on him this season, hoping he can duplicate his success.
Now, all the Cowboys premium picks (rounds 1-3) in the Jason Garrett era haven’t exploded onto the scene and into lucrative second contracts, but they do all have one thing in common - they’ve all played through their rookie deals. Whether they are All-Pro’s or just solid players, the Cowboys always get use out of their early draft resources. Sure some players didn’t live up to their draft cost, like Morris Claiborne or Gavin Escobar, but they hung around through their entire rookie contracts and logged meaningful snaps for the team. Players like Bruce Carter were solid, and he even led the team in interceptions (5) in 2014, his last year in Dallas. And then there’s DeMarco Murray who churned out a Cowboys single-season franchise record of 1,845 yards before leaving for a big payday in Philadelphia. Whether they have been eyebrow raising or just so-so, the team has done a good job of getting mileage out of their premium draft picks.
But that could all be coming to an end soon. The Cowboys third-round pick of 2015, Chaz Green, may not make it through his rookie contract. It’s been rough for the offensive lineman out of Florida. After in injury-plagued college career, Green carried that reputation with him in the pros. He had hip surgery his rookie season and never played. Over the next two seasons, he played in 18 games, starting six of them. The team used him as backup tackle, filling in for an injured Tyron Smith as well as starting him at guard early in the season last year. Green struggled at tackle last year in what will be remembered as the “Atlanta-game debacle” to where he was sent to the bench for deeper offensive lineman reserve, Byron Bell.
Green entered the 2018 season hoping to turn over a new leaf. With a new offensive line coach in Paul Alexander, maybe there’s a chance he can help Green overcome his blocking deficiencies? The Cowboys have addressed both of the positions Green played last year as they’ve drafted Connor Williams to play left guard and signed Cameron Fleming in free agency to be their swing tackle. Green’s role on the team now would be to just round out the bottom of the depth chart, but that still might be a tall order for him at this point. With the recent injury to Marcus Martin, there is one less player in the mix for a final roster spot, but Green has done nothing to show he’s worth keeping on the team. Not only did he struggle in the first preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers, but veteran OL Kadeem Edwards is making a push to challenge Green for that last roster spot.
If Green is in fact in a heated battle with anyone for that last offensive linemen roster spot, then he’s going to have to finish camp strong. And things like this can’t happen...
Cowboys OT Chaz Green carted off practice field with apparent right leg injury.— Ed Werder (@EdwerderRFA) August 12, 2018
It could be time to wave the white flag on the Chaz Green experiment. Not every offensive linemen the Cowboys draft is going to be an All-Pro and not every premium draft pick is going to make it through their rookie deal. It’s been a nice run, but the release of Green would end the team’s streak of viable draft selections through the first three rounds.