Draft Grader: Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys' recent run of mediocrity is reflected in their draft picks from 2008 through 2010 - no big mistakes, but no great successes either.

| 4 years ago

Draft Grader: Dallas Cowboys

In case you haven’t noticed, we’ve been going back over the 2008, 2009, and 2010 draft class of each franchise and assigning each pick a grade. Up next? Well, that’s the Dallas Cowboys.

Each pick between the 2008 and 2010 draft classes has earned a grade between +2.0 and -2.0 (in 0.5 increments) that depends upon:

• Where they were drafted
• Their performance
• Their contribution (how many snaps their team got out of them)
• Other factors, such as unforeseen injuries and conditions that could not have been accounted for

Let’s take a look at how Dallas drafted.


+2.0: You’ve just found Tom Brady in the 6th round

They didn’t need to, having already made the most out of undrafted free agent Tony Romo.


+1.5: Getting much more than you bargained for!

Not in these drafts.


+1.0: The scouts nailed it!

Dez Bryant, WR (24th overall pick in 2010): This could quite easily turn into a higher grade in years to come if the late-season form of Bryant is anything to go by. In the first half of 2012 his inconsistent play saw him earn a -5.0 grade, but then in second half he took over with a +12.2 rating. Rare talent.

Sean Lee, LB (55th overall pick in 2010): Before injury cut short his 2012 season, Lee was on his way to the kind of year we’ve come to expect from players like Patrick Willis. His +12.1 grade on just 331 snaps meant he finished the season with the sixth-highest grade of all inside linebackers, despite featuring in only six games. Hopefully he can stay healthy because there are few like him.


+0.5: Never hurts to find a solid contributor

Martellus Bennett, TE (61st overall pick in 2008): So Bennett never developed into the athletic mismatch at the tight end position the Cowboys thought they drafted. Stuck behind one of the greatest tight ends of our generation, Jason Witten, that was always going to be tricky, with Bennett running only 679 pass routes in four years. Still, he did contribute and turned into one of the best blocking TEs in the league and a competent No. 2 to Witten.

Orlando Scandrick, CB (143rd overall pick in 2008): While not a cornerback you’d feel overly comfortable starting for a prolonged stretch, Scandrick is a decent slot corner who can fill in outside. Good value in the fifth.

Victor Butler, LB (110th overall pick in 2009): While he has found opportunities hard to come by, Butler has got better year after year and over the past two years turned 250 pass rushes into a healthy 30 quarterback disruptions. A good return considering what most teams get out of their fourth-round picks, even if he is no longer with the team.

John Phillips, TE (208th overall pick in 2009): Took over from Martellus Bennett as the team’s blocking tight end in 2012 and held up reasonably well. It earned him a move to San Diego, while Dallas can at least be happy that this former sixth-rounder contributed as much as he did.

Sean Lissemore, DT (234th overall pick in 2010): Earned the coaches’ praise at the end of the season for turning 283 snaps into some absolutely stellar run defense whether lined up at end or on the nose. However, 2012 didn’t go quite as well as he battled injury and struggled when more was asked out of him. Big 2013 coming as the Cowboys switch to a 4-3.


0.0: It could have been worse

Tashard Choice, RB (122nd overall pick in 2008): Choice made some healthy contributions for the Cowboys, but never saw the field enough (939 snaps) to be anything more than just another guy.

Erik Walden, LB (167th overall pick in 2008): It’s very possible Walden would have found a place on the Cowboys’ practice squad after they cut him, but the Chiefs picked him up on waivers.

Stephen McGee, QB (101st overall pick in 2009): Something of a flyer, the more McGee gets on the field the less you become convinced he could one day take over for Tony Romo.

Michael Hamlin, S (166th overall pick in 2009): Saw limited (16 snaps) time on defense and contributed little on special teams, despite hanging around the team for a season and a half.

Stephen Hodge, S (197th overall pick in 2009): Never seemed to recover from knee surgery two months after being drafted. Spent a year on I.R. before being cut.

Mike Mickens, CB (227th overall pick in 2009): Taken off their practice squad as a rookie by the Bucs, Mickens was always something of a low risk, high reward prospect that never seemed to overcome knee injuries that surfaced in college.

Manuel Johnson, WR (229th overall pick in 2009): Got on the field for 42 snaps in 2010, but didn’t help his cause by dropping one of the five balls thrown his way (and only catching one).

Sam Young, T (179th overall pick in 2010): Dropped after spending a year as a backup swing tackle.

Jamar Wall, CB (196th overall pick in 2010): Claimed off waivers by the Texans after a disappointing rookie camp.

Josh Brent, DT (Seventh round pick in 2010 supplemental draft): Had developed into a solid rotational nose tackle with a knack for making plays in the run game. However, a tragic off the field incident sees Brent facing criminal charges.


-0.5: That pick was not put to good use

Mike Jenkins, CB (25th overall pick in 2008): After the 2009 season Jenkins looked like an ascending player who the Cowboys could build their secondary around. But since then it’s just been disappointment after disappointment, earning a -10.5 grade in coverage the past three years. No longer with the team, you need more out of your first-round picks.

Felix Jones, RB (22nd overall pick in 2008): When you take a back in the first round you need more  than 120 carries per year out of him (the average Dallas got from Jones). Now, if he was a game-changer then you could possibly understand it, but he hasn’t been. Disappointing.

Jason Williams, LB (69th overall pick in 2009): Waived mid-way through his sophomore season with the Cowboys, it’s weird to think that Dallas got just 14 snaps on defense from their first pick of the 2009 draft. A far-from-productive special teamer, Williams was a waste of a pick.

Brandon Williams, LB (120th overall pick in 2009): Just 30 snaps in 2010 and one special teams tackle isn’t a great return on a fourth-round pick.

DeAngelo Smith, CB (143rd overall pick in 2009): Waived by the Cowboys as a rookie, Dallas got nothing back from this fifth-rounder.

David Buehler, K (172nd overall pick in 2009): If you spend a fifth-round pick on a kicker, they should really end up being more than a kickoff guy. The rule change didn’t help, but this was an ill-advised pick.

Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, CB (126th overall pick in 2010): Cut after a year, Owusu-Ansah was supposed to bring some speed to the Cowboys’ return game. He struggled to make much of an impact.


-1.0: What a waste!

Robert Brewster, T (75th overall pick in 2009): Missed his rookie season on injured reserve, and a large part of year No. 2 on the practice squad. Not what you expect out of a third-round pick.


-1.5: The scouts/ coaches failed, big time!

Nothing overly terrible here.


-2.0: You just drafted the love child of Jamarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf!

No Russell/ Leaf hybrids in theses classes.


Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled


  • Shaun

    am i completely blind or dense? Where’s Tyron Smith

    • shaun

      ahha! 2008-2010 nvm

  • Andrew

    Hopefully will look much better when the 2011 and 12 classes get graded