Top 10 picks and the Dallas Cowboys don’t go together very often. Since 2005, Dallas has picked in the top 10 just two times, in 2011 and 2016. In those two drafts, they came away with former All-Pro left tackle, Tyron Smith, and former All-Pro running back, Ezekiel Elliott.
It’s safe to say the Cowboys certainly have a lot of holes to fill this offseason. They could go in a variety of directions with their first pick, and pretty much every position on the defensive side of the ball is on the table. But before we get into prospects that Dallas could select in this year’s draft, let’s look back a bit at what the 10th overall pick has to offer.
It’s been a mixed bag at pick number ten, but in recent years, two of the best players in football have been selected at this spot. To get a feeling of what Dallas may have to work with, here’s what the last 10 picks at number 10 overall have looked like.
2011 NFL Draft - QB, Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars
Coming out of Missouri, Blaine Gabbert was supposed to be the Jacksonville Jaguars franchise quarterback. In his three years at Missouri, Gabbert threw 40 touchdown passes and for nearly 7,000 yards, but in the NFL, he was not able to replicate that success. In his rookie year, Gabbert went 4-10, throwing 12 touchdown passes to go with 11 interceptions. In his second year in Jacksonville, he went 1-9, before being replaced as the starter. Since then, Gabbert has stuck around the league as a backup, this season backing up Tom Brady in Tampa Bay.
Overall, when you take a quarterback in the top ten and they have the career Gabbert did, it’s hard not to label them as a major bust. If Jacksonville could do this pick over, they certainly would go in a different direction, making it hard not to give this pick a terrible grade.
Draft Grade: D
2012 NFL Draft - CB, Stephon Gilmore, Buffalo Bills
In his time with Buffalo, Stephon Gilmore was a consistent playmaker. After being drafted in 2012, Gilmore recorded at least one interception every season he was in Buffalo. In 2016 he had a breakout year, recording five interceptions and making his first Pro Bowl. After that outstanding season, he signed a $75 million deal with the New England Patriots.
Since then, Gilmore has consistently been one of the best cornerbacks in football. Gilmore was named the 2019 Defensive Player of The Year and has had a PFF coverage grade above 85 in all but one of his four seasons in New England.
Despite not being the star he is in New England during his tenure in Buffalo, Gilmore was still a very solid player for the Bills, lasting five seasons and putting up constant production. Grading on his time in Buffalo, the team that drafted him, before he really broke out in New England, gives the pick a solid grade.
Draft Grade: B+
2013 NFL Draft - OG, Chance Warmack, Tennessee Titans
It’s always harder to grade a pick of offensive linemen, but Chance Warmack did play well when he was on the field for Tennessee. In his four seasons as a Titan, Warmack had a PFF offensive grade above 73 all but one season. He started 46 out of his first 48 games in the league and most recently signed a deal with the Seattle Seahawks before opting out of the 2020 season.
No matter how good you are, when you’re selected in the top 10, it’s pretty disappointing when you are off the team in four years. During his time in Tennessee, Warmack was a solid player, but he just didn’t stick around long enough to make this a great pick.
Draft Grade: C
2014 NFL Draft - TE, Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions
It’s always a huge gamble to take a tight end in the top 10. The Detroit Lions took that gamble, and it did not pay off. After being selected in 2014, Eric Ebron caught more than 60 passes just one time in his four-year tenure in Detroit. Ebron also scored just 11 touchdowns in 56 games. When he left Detroit and went to Indianapolis in 2018, he hauled in 13 touchdown receptions, more than he scored in his entire Lions’ career.
Ebron has been a productive player since he left Detroit, but if we’re grading on his tenure with the team who drafted him, it was not a very good pick.
Draft Grade: C-
2015 NFL Draft - RB, Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams
There’s a valid argument of whether or not it’s worth it to take a running back in the top 10, but if you’re going to do it, you better get production. Todd Gurley produced in a big way during his time with the Rams, at one point looking like the best running back in football. From 2015-2018, Gurley rushed for over 1,100 yards in three out of his four seasons and was named a First-Team All-Pro twice. Gurley scored 30 touchdowns in his two All-Pro seasons, leading the league both years.
It’s certainly valid to argue that the teams should not give running backs long-term second contracts, but Gurley was as good as you can get on his rookie deal. He was everything the Rams could have hoped for, making this pick a home run.
Draft Grade: A
2016 NFL Draft - CB, Eli Apple, New York Giants
From a home run pick to a strikeout. The Ohio State product, Eli Apple, had a very disappointing, short career with the New York Giants. Apple played in New York for just two and a half seasons. During that time, he recorded just one interception and had an average PFF coverage below 60. In 2018, the Giants traded Apple to the New Orleans Saints, ending his extremely unproductive tenure in New York.
When you take a player in the top 10 and are forced to trade them just 2.5 years in, that’s about as bad as it gets. This is a pick the Giants wish they could have a do-over on.
Draft Grade: F
2017 NFL Draft - QB, Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs selecting Patrick Mahomes at number 10 overall will go down as one of the best draft picks in the history of the NFL. In four seasons, Mahomes has thrown for over 14,000 yards to go with 114 touchdown passes. He’s already won a league MVP award and is the odds-on favorite to win his second Super Bowl this February.
This pick was more than a home run, this was a grand slam. Mahomes has a real chance to be the best quarterback of all time, and the Chiefs stole him at pick 10.
Draft Grade: A+
2018 NFL Draft - QB, Josh Rosen, Arizona Cardinals
From potentially the best quarterback of all time, to one that lasted just a single season. Unfortunately for Josh Rosen, he’s been one of the biggest draft busts in recent history. Rosen was selected by Arizona in 2018 and went 3-10 in 13 starts. He threw 11 touchdown passes in those games but also was intercepted 14 times. His PFF offensive grade that season was 49, and his poor play made Arizona move off him after one season, selecting quarterback Kyler Murray with the first pick in the 2019 Draft.
Lasting just one season with the team who drafted you, especially when you’re a quarterback, is as bad as it can get. Rosen never got a real shot in Arizona, but the pick still looks awful considering the end result.
Draft Grade: D
2019 NFL Draft - LB, Devin Bush, Pittsburgh Steelers
It’s hard to judge a player after just two seasons, but Devin Bush’s NFL career is off to a good start. In his rookie season, Bush recorded 109 total tackles, nine tackles for loss, four fumble recoveries, and two interceptions. He was off to another good start in the 2020 season, before tearing his ACL in Week 6. If Bush is able to recover and keep playing the way he did before the injury, this could end up being a very solid pick for the Steelers.
Draft Grade: B
2020 NFL Draft - OT, Jedrick Wills, Cleveland Browns
We wrap up our list with former Alabama tackle Jedrick Wills. After being selected in April, Wills has performed well during his rookie year. The linemen recorded a PFF pass-block grade of 78.5 for the season, and an outstanding mark. Wills surrendered just four sacks and allowed 19 pressures. Wills was just what the doctor ordered for a team that needed to protect their quarterback. He looks like he is going to be a solid force on the Browns offensive line for years to come.