It is often said that the Dallas Cowboys draft very well in recent times. There are certainly misses by any team in their drafting history, and if you poke at the right spots you find areas where teams tend to whiff a little bit more often than others, but for the most part the Cowboys have been a team that we can rely on finding talent to outfit their roster over an entire draft weekend.
We are all holding on to this perceived truth with the 2023 NFL Draft about three weeks away, but in the spirit of establishing just how solid the reality is we wanted to take a look back at what Dallas has done in recent memory.
This was the theme of our discussion on this week’s BTB Roundtable (which you can watch at the link right above here). Tom Ryle, Tony Catalina, Brandon Clements and I each assembled a list of what we believed to be the top 10 Dallas Cowboys draft picks over the last five years.
As far as why we chose a five-year stretch, that encompasses the entire rookie contract of the players taken in that first round (the ones who had their fifth-year option exercised at least). What’s more is that the 2018 group is a little bit underrated as a whole in terms of Cowboys draft classes, and this entire era is obviously all under the leadership of Will McClay. Additionally, five years just sounds neat as opposed to four or six.
Here is every Dallas Cowboys draft pick over the last five years
In order to put together a list of the top 10 picks over the last five years you have to know which players were taken in that time. The first selection in our defined sample size was Leighton Vander Esch and interestingly he did not have his fifth-year option picked up by the team, although he did sign a one-year deal in its place and signed another new deal with the Cowboys this offseason.
As noted, the 2018 group is arguably the strongest from top to bottom as it produced several starters and key contributors to the team (the top of 2020 is very impressive as well). Here are all 44 Cowboys draftees in the last half decade.
Dallas Cowboys Draft Picks (2018-2022)
|1||Leighton Vander Esch||CeeDee Lamb||Micah Parsons||Tyler Smith|
|2||Connor Williams||Trysten Hill||Trevon Diggs||Kelvin Joseph||Sam Williams|
|3||Michael Gallup||Connor McGovern||Neville Gallimore||Osa Odighizuwa||Jalen Tolbert|
|4||Dorance Armstrong||Tony Pollard||Reggie Robinson||Jabril Cox||Jake Ferguson|
|Dalton Schultz||Tyler Biadasz||Josh Ball|
|5||Mike White||Michael Jackson||Bradlee Anae||Simi Fehoko||Matt Waletzko|
|Joe Jackson||DaRon Bland|
|6||Chris Covington||Donovan Wilson||Quinton Bohanna||Devin Harper|
|Cedrick Wilson||Israel Mukuamu|
|7||Bo Scarbrough||Mike Weber||Ben DiNucci||Matt Farniok|
A lot of these players make up the current nucleus of the team and a few of them, the aforementioned Vander Esch as well as safety Donovan Wilson, have picked up recent deals with the team this offseason. You could put this group up against any other team in the NFL since 2018 and it would stack up favorably.
If we look at things from a return on investment standpoint then it is hard not to feel like the Cowboys are leaving a lot of meat on the bone in the third round considering those are top 100 selections. Michael Gallup was found there, as well as Connor McGovern and Osa Odighizuwa, but while this may be expecting too much you would think there would be more to show for the team’s work so to speak.
That is just one way of looking at things though which was the purpose of the discussion that the four of us had. Each roundtable participant assembled their list based on the prompting of what they believed to be the best Cowboys draft picks over the last five years. That is admittedly open to a bit of interpretation which is how we wound up with some different answers.
Ranking Dallas Cowboys Draft Picks (2018-2022)
|Rank||RJ Ochoa||Tom Ryle||Tony Catalina||Brandon Clements|
|Rank||RJ Ochoa||Tom Ryle||Tony Catalina||Brandon Clements|
|1||Micah Parsons||Micah Parsons||Micah Parsons||Micah Parsons|
|2||CeeDee Lamb||CeeDee Lamb||CeeDee Lamb||Tony Pollard|
|3||Trevon Diggs||Donovan Wilson||Trevon Diggs||CeeDee Lamb|
|4||Leighton Vander Esch||Tyler Smith||Tony Pollard||Trevon Diggs|
|5||Tyler Smith||Trevon Diggs||Tyler Smith||Dalton Schultz|
|6||Tony Pollard||Tony Pollard||Leighton Vander Esch||Donovan Wilson|
|7||Michael Gallup||Tyler Biadasz||Tyler Biadasz||Dorance Armstrong|
|8||Tyler Biadasz||Leighton Vander Esch||Dorance Armstrong||Tyler Biadasz|
|9||Dalton Schultz||Dalton Schultz||DaRon Bland||Tyler Smith|
|10||DaRon Bland||Michael Gallup||Michael Gallup||DaRon Bland|
Something that we all sort of agreed on was that a player earning a second contract with the team was in a way an indication of the pick being successful. It goes without saying that a sixth-round pick earning a second contract is a bit more impressive relatively speaking than say a top 100 pick.
Speaking for my list, the return on investment was a big factor for me which is how DaRon Bland managed to sneak his way in. My first player out was Connor Williams and while he has not been on the team in over a year he was a legitimate player for the Cowboys and a starter for his entire career (the end was a bit weird to be fair).
Donovan Wilson had perhaps the widest range of answers as our own Tom Ryle had him all the way up at three. Wilson meets the requirement of earning a second contract with the team, but some of the audience while we were doing the show live felt that he only had one really solid year to show for his entire career to this point.
The conclusion that we all ultimately came to was that having so much disagreement about who merited inclusion in the top 10 was an indication at how well the Cowboys have drafted over the last half decade and that is certainly exciting with regards to the end of this month. Hopefully this time next year we are talking about players who will hear their name called soon enough and perhaps some new faces like Damone Clark, Sam Williams or Israel Mukuamu.