Draft Grader: Dallas Cowboys
Draft season is upon us as free agency quiets down and prospect watch goes into overdrive. But the reality for us is that we’re not that involved in the College side of things, but that doesn’t mean we’re not fans of the draft.
For me though that means reflecting back on drafts gone by to tell you which teams made the best picks and which ones the worst. So as I do every year I’m grading every draft pick from 2009 through to 2011 on the PFF rating scale (-2 to +2), factoring in where they were drafted, injuries and a host of other things.
We’re moving in draft order so it’s the Dallas Cowboys we look at next.
+2.0: You’ve just found Tom Brady in the 6th round
+1.5: Getting much more than you bargained for!
+1.0: The scouts nailed it!
Dez Bryant, WR (24th overall selection in 2010): There have been some off-the-field issues and his character has at times been called into question, but there’s no denying Bryant has been productive on it. Averaging 783 snaps per season he’s emerged as a top tier receiver who is just a dose of consistency away from rightfully being bracketed as elite.
Sean Lee, LB (55th overall pick in 2010): The only question mark here comes down to playing time. Indeed I’d like to see more than the 2,085 snaps that Lee has managed. That said he’s been so good when on the field that this grade wasn’t a hard one to give. One of the best linebackers in the league, he contributes on every down.
DeMarco Murray, RB (71st overall selection in 2011): Murray is extremely close to being a category above. An elusive and impactful back, he’s warranted a +28.1 grade since entering the league, with it only really playing less than five hundred snaps in each of his first two years holding him back.
Tyron Smith, OT (9th overall selection in 2011): Another big win from their 2011 draft haul. Smith has already logged 3,076 snaps and amassed an excellent +56.2 grade in that time. Starting off on the right side, he’s made the switch to the left side look easier then it is and is coming off his best year as a pro (ranking fourth in our left tackle grades).
+0.5: Never hurts to find a solid contributor
Victor Butler, LB (110th overall pick in 2009): Maybe this would have been higher but for Butler buried on the depth chart behind both DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer. The former fourth rounder has excelled in a limited role though, turning his 817 snaps into a +13.6 grade.
John Phillips, TE (208th overall pick in 2009): I expect very little out of late-sixth-round picks, so I’ll take one who can log 914 snaps where he looks a useful in-line blocker.
Sean Lissemore, DT (235th overall pick in 2010): It could have been so much more. Lissemore impressed before a starting role was asked out of him and he looked to wear down. Still a seventh-rounder who adds 620 snaps at a +9.5 grade? I’m game.
Dwayne Harris, WR (176th overall pick in 2011): Hasn’t delivered as a receiver on a consistent basis (albeit with 414 snaps he hasn’t had a huge opportunity), but his work in the return game makes this a pick that proved worthwhile.
Josh Price-Brent, DT (213th overall pick in 2011): His off-the-field transgressions aside, Brent was on his way to a successful career, excelling as a situational player after being a 2010 supplemental draft pick up.
0.0: It could have been worse
Michael Hamlin, S (166th overall pick in 2009): Would play 17 snaps as a rookie but was cut during his second year.
Stephen Hodge, S (197th overall pick in 2009): Former sixth-rounder who would spend his entire Dallas career on the sidelines. A tough break for all.
Mike Mickens, CB (227th overall pick in 2009): Former seventh-rounder was a developmental prospect snatched away from the Cowboys practice squad.
Manuel Johnson, WR (229th overall pick in 2009): Another seventh-rounder who amounted to little. Would play just 42 offensive snaps. None that memorable.
Sam Young, OT (180th overall pick in 2010): Wouldn’t make it to the start of his second season after spending year one on the active roster.
Shaun Chapas, FB (221st overall pick in 2011): Eight offensive snaps were all he managed before being released in the final round of roster cuts before the start of his sophomore season.
Bill Nagy, OL (254th overall pick in 2011): Looked out of his depth in his 283 snaps that saw him register a -7.5 grade. Nagy would spend the 2012 season with the Lions and last year out of football.
-0.5: That pick was not put to good use
Stephen McGee, QB (101st overall pick in 2009): I’m not a fan of picking a quarterback in the early rounds unless you expect to develop him into a starter, or key backup. McGee was neither and when injury meant he did get his chance, he simply looked terrible.
Brandon Williams, LB (120th overall pick in 2009): Linebacker who would play just 31 snaps for the team, with his switch from defensive end to outside linebacker halted by an ACL tear in his rookie year.
DeAngelo Smith, CB (143rd overall pick in 2009): Never good when a fifth-rounder is getting cut before the start of his first regular season.
David Buehler, K (172nd overall pick in 2009): If you draft a kicker they better be a good one. Buehler, more of a kickoff specialist, just wasn’t worth the pick.
Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, DB (127th overall pick in 2010): Speedy defensive back who was a huge project. Unfortunately injury ended his rookie year and the team just couldn’t find a spot for him in his sophomore season. Cut midway through it.
Jamar Wall, CB (197th overall pick in 2010): Sixth rounder who was waived before the start of year one. Spent some time with the Houston Texans, but a few weeks later was released and the Cowboys had no interest adding him to their practice squad.
Bruce Carter, LB (40th overall pick in 2011): Even accounting for his rookie year being a write off Carter has been a disappointment. The switch to a 4-3 defense was certainly not the making of him and right now he’s turned his 1,568 career snaps into a -8.3 grade. Not ideal.
David Arkin, OL (110th overall pick in 2011): The Cowboys opted to spend at guard rather than get Arkin any snaps on offense. Being cut at the start of 2013 was a clear indication that the team had made a mistake but they were at least prepared to move on from it.
Josh Thomas, CB (143rd overall pick in 2011): Fifth rounder who was made available to claims on the waiver wire after being cut before the start of his first regular season game.
-1.0: What a waste!
Jason Williams, LB (69th overall pick in 2009): Viewed at the time as something of a reach, his 14 career snaps and release in his sophomore season did nothing to prove those people wrong.
Robert Brewster, OT (75th overall pick in 2009): Worse than Arkin, Brewster would make no appearances on offense. Spent his rookie year on injured reserve and then was ditched during his sophomore season. Would end up back on the practice squad but that stay of execution did not last long.
-1.5: The scouts/ coaches failed, big time!
-2.0: You just drafted the love child of JaMarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf!
Nor here …
Here’s a list of every team we’ve covered
Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled