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Cowboys draft 2023: Dallas is due to hit on another gem in the 7th-round

It’s been a while since Dallas had a big hit with one of their 7th-round picks.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys have had solid historical success in the seventh round of the NFL Draft. In the last 20 years, though, they haven’t added a true gem, a diamond in the rough, with one of these picks. Could they finally break that streak in 2023?

One could make the case that the Cowboys have had better success in the seventh round than in rounds 4-6 over the last six decades. It’s produced two legendary players, WR “Bullet” Bob Hayes (1964) and OT Rayfield Wright (1967), who are both immortalized in the Hall of Fame and the Ring of Honor. Dallas has also found some major figures like LB Mike Hegman (1975), DT Leon Lett (1991), S Brock Marion (1993), and DT Jay Ratliff (2005).

Granted, those earlier rounds have yielded the likes of Dak Prescott, Herschel Walker, George Andrie, D.D. Lewis, and a slew of other memorable players. But none of them have reached the heights of Hayes or Wright in team history, let alone the NFL.

Jay Ratliff didn’t do enough to make it into the Ring or Canton, but he probably came the closest of any other seventh-rounder. His stunning emergence as a four-time Pro Bowler from 2008-2011 and First-Team All-Pro in 2009 was more than you’d ever hope for from any late-round pick.

Unfortunately, it’s been a while since Dallas struck gold in the seventh round. Here’s what they’ve found since landing Ratliff in 2005:

  • 2006 - OT Pat McQuistan, C E.J. Whitley
  • 2007 - DB Alan Ball, DB Courtney Brown
  • 2009 - DB Mike Mickens, WRE Manuel Johnson
  • 2010 - DL Sean Lissemore
  • 2011 - FB Shaun Chapas, C Bill Nagy
  • 2012 - LB Caleb McSurdy
  • 2014 - DE Ben Gardner, LB WIll Smith, S Ahmad Dixon
    DT Ken Bishop, DB Terrance Mitchell
  • 2015 - LB Mark Nzeocha, OT Laurence Gibson, TE Geoff Swaim
  • 2017 - DT Joey Ivie, WR Noah Brown, DT Jordan Carrell
  • 2018 - RB Bo Scarbrough
  • 2019 - RB Mike Weber, DE Jalen Jelks
  • 2020 - QB Ben DiNucci
  • 2021 - G/C Matt Farniok

If you found yourself saying “who” a lot as you read that list, nobody would blame you. Out of 26 players, only a few like Alan Ball, Noah Brown, and Geoff Swaim made any last impression. Many of these guys didn’t even make the team as rookies.

A couple like Sean Lissemore and Terrance Mitchell would be meaningful contributors for other NFL teams, but their time in Dallas was short and uneventful.

Even in a year like 2014, with five players drafted in the seventh round, Dallas didn’t get a single hit. That’s a bad day at the roulette wheel. We’ve also seen recent picks like Weber, Jelks, and DiNucci not be able to catch on.

At the very least, their most recent seventh-rounder is providing some value. Matt Farniok is poised to go into 2023 as a primary backup at both guard and center. Entering just his third season, who knows if Farniok could make a push for even greater responsibility? Dallas could still need a starting left guard depending on how the next draft goes.

This is in no way a slight on the Cowboys’ drafting process. Over sixty years we could only give you a few names of any real consequence. That’s about a 10% chance of finding a stud; hardly good odds.

Still, it’s been a bit of a drought since drafting Jay Ratliff in 2005. Dallas is due for another big win from the seventh round and this year is as good as any. They currently hold one pick, 246th overall. Hopefully, this one yields better results.

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