The Dallas Cowboys had a nice draft; at least that’s what it appears like. Sure, there are moans and groans about how we wish they would’ve drafted “this guy” over “that guy,” but that kind of stuff happens every year. All in all, the team collected a handful of players that could play a key role in the future success of the Cowboys.
Judging a team’s draft is such a subjective exercise, yet it’s one we partake in quite regularly. Of course those answers start to reveal themselves the further away from the draft you get. So, for today’s exercise, we are taking a look at what the team has gotten from the previous five drafts and then projecting what this new crop of players might do.
Points will be awarded based on when they were drafted and how much they contribute to the team. More weight is given to players taken later in the draft because they don’t have to play at the same level to be consider a quality draft pick. And the better the player, the higher the score. Points will be awarded as follows:
The product of those two parameters will result in that player’s overall draft value score. If you’re an All-Pro player selected on Day 3, then you’d receive 3 x 4 = 12 points, the maximum possible score. If you’re a first-round player who has yet to solidify a place in the starting lineup, then you’d receive a 1 x 1 = 1 point. Players who have been released (Chaz Green) or essentially have logged negligible playing time (Rico Gathers) get no points and are left off the score sheet.
Let’s take a look at the Cowboys previous five drafts from 2014 to 2018.
This scoring system shows pretty clearly what we already know - the Cowboys 2016 draft was epic. Not only did they land five starters from this class, but two of them battled it out for rookie of the year. Dak Prescott scores the highest out of all the players listed because he’s Pro Bowler who was found on Day 3 of the draft.
DeMarcus Lawrence leads the second-highest scoring draft class with eight points because he’s an All-Pro who was drafted on Day 2. The Cowboys don’t have a lot of quantity here, but if you draft two All-Pro’s per draft, you’re going to do okay.
The 2017 class takes a hit from the lack of production from first-round pick Taco Charlton, but then is salvaged a little with sixth-round pick Xavier Woods entrenched as one of the team’s starting safeties.
Last year’s class looks good with Leighton Vander Esch joining his teammates Zack Martin and Ezekiel Elliott as three of the team’s four players in Cowboys franchise history to earn All-Pro honors their rookie season. While Michael Gallup earned a starting spot, Connor Williams had an up and down rookie season that saw him conceding the starting left guard spot to Xavier Su’a-Filo down the stretch. And for that reason, he’s scored as a rotational guy.
Of course, these scores are subject to change should players improve.
So, how does the new class of rookies stack up? Well, we have no way to know precisely, but that won’t stop us from speculating. Here are some projections of the Cowboys 2019 draft class.
Day 1 - WR, Amari Cooper
While Cooper’s name wasn’t called last Thursday, he is what the Cowboys got in exchange for their first-round pick. Cooper is already a three-time Pro Bowler and he’s only 24 years old, so at the very minimum he gets a score of three points. With so much left in his career, it’s not unrealistic to perceive him earning All-Pro honors at some point. If you pro-rate his 2018 numbers with the Cowboys over a full 16-game season, he’d have 96 catches, 1,303 yards, and 10 touchdowns, putting him in the upper echelon or wide receivers.
Cooper = Day 1 (1 point) x All-Pro (4 points) = 4 points
Day 2 - DT, Trysten Hill and G, Connor McGovern
You have to be excited about the upside of Hill as he’s the most athletic defensive tackle drafted in the Jason Garrett era, and McGovern could end up being a steal when it’s all said and done. While we can all wish for the best, let’s error on the side of conservative here and just label them quality starters.
Hill/McGovern = Day 2 (2 points) x Reliable Starter (2 points) = 4 points each
Day 3 - RB Tony Pollard, CB Michael Jackson, S Donovan Wilson
It gets much harder to guestimate the Day 3 players and in attempt to be as unbiased as I can, again I’m going to lean more conservatively. The Day 3 edge rushers are already on the outside looking in as they are down the food-chain of their respective position group so they get omitted from consideration. Running back Mike Weber is also left off, but we’re playing the odds here. Whether it’s Weber or Tony Pollard, one of them should earn a rotational role on the team. And with Zeke as the workhorse, that’s as high as that ceiling goes.
Michael Jackson could be a sneaky-good value pick and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him hold down a starting corner spot eventually, similarly to Anthony Brown, but we’ll consider him more of a Jourdan Lewis depth guy for now. And while we are all hoping Donovan Wilson is another sixth-round gem of a safety like Xavier Woods, let’s just pencil him in as a Kavon Frazier-type who’s a special team’s ace bonus. Based on those assessments, their scores end up being:
Pollard, Jackson, and Wilson = Day 3 (3 points) x Rotational Player (1 point) = 3 points each
The final tally looks like this...
A score of 21 puts the 2019 group as the second highest-scoring class from this list, trailing only the 2016 draft class. The thing that stands out from this group is that the Cowboys did well at all levels of the draft. They got a star talent early, they got two reliable starters on Day 2, and then they parlayed that Anthony Hitchens compensatory pick into some solid depth guys late in the draft. This is a really positive thing considering their ability to retain their star players relies heavily on replenishing solid contributors that leave in free agency with low-cost rookie contracts.
It’s early, but it continues to look more and more like the Cowboys front office nailed another great draft.