Were The Dallas Cowboys Much Better off in The Draft With Bill Parcells?

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Were The Dallas Cowboys Much Better off in The Draft With Bill Parcells?
(Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

Were the Dallas Cowboys significantly better during the draft with Bill Parcells?

The media, the fans, the football "experts", all sign off on Bill Parcells every football move.  Some, including me, believe he has earned it.

But if you look at the last seven years the Dallas Cowboys have drafted - first four with Parcells and the last three without - one might realize that the draft is mostly a huge crap-shoot, and the real genius of Bill Parcells is the system in which his players play in.

The Four Dallas Cowboys Drafts with Parcells (Taken from SI.com)


Round Pick Player Pos School
1 5(5) Terence Newman CB Kansas St.
2 6(38) Al Johnson C Wisconsin
3 5(69) Jason Witten TE Tennessee
4 6(103) Bradie James OLB LSU
6 5(178) B.J. Tucker CB Wisconsin
6 13(186) Zuriel Smith WR Hampton
7 5(219) Justin Bates OT Colorado

2003 was Bill Parcells' second best as the Cowboys coach.  Newman, Witten and James have all been major contributors and are still core players today. Al Johnson was a starter for the Cowboys in 2004 and 2005, but never lived up to expectations. The rest of the picks never made any impact.


Round Pick Player Pos School
2 11(43) Julius Jones RB Notre Dame
2 20(52) Jacob Rogers OT Southern Cal
3 20(83) Stephen Peterman OG LSU
4 25(121) Bruce Thornton CB Georgia
5 12(144) Sean Ryan TE Boston Coll.
7 4(205) Nathan Jones CB Rutgers
7 15(216) Patrick Crayton WR NW Oklahoma St.
7 22(223) Jacques Reeves CB Purdue

Crayton is the only consistent, solid player from the 2004 draft.  As the Cowboys 2nd or 3rd wide receiver for the last few years, he is most notable for a dropped pass in the 2007 playoff game against the Giants, and his mouth that doesn't know when to keep quiet.

Julius Jones was the starting running back until he left, but that was by default.  He averaged less than four yards a carry and always seemed to "trip" over the line of scrimmage.   I even gave him a nickname, "2nd and 11".  It should be noted that Parcells had the opportunity to take Steven Jackson, but instead traded out of the first round for Jones (The Cowboys used the 2005 pick to select Marcus Spears).

Reeves was a contributor but only because of injury.  He was a huge disappointment when given starting duties in 2007, regularly getting beaten deep.  He was subsequently released after that 2007 season.


Round Pick Player Pos School
1 11(11) Demarcus Ware OLB Troy
1 20(20) Marcus Spears DE LSU
2 10(42) Kevin Burnett OLB Tennessee
4 8(109) Marion Barber HB Minnesota
4 31(132) Chris Canty DE Virginia
6 34(208) Justin Berlault S Ball St.
6 35(209) Rob Petitti OT Pittsburgh
7 10(224) Jay Ratliff DE Auburn

2005 was the best draft in Bill Parcell's Cowboys tenure.

Demarcus Ware is arguably the best defensive player in the NFL, and definitely Bill Parcell's best pick as the Cowboys head coach.

Barber and Ratliff are core players to today's team and are both Pro Bowlers.

Spears, Burnett, and Canty were good role players, with only Spears remaining with the team.

Petititti started all 16 games in his rookie season, but was regularly beaten each Sunday.   He was released at the beginning of the 2006 season.


Round Pick Player Pos School
1 18(18) Bobby Carpenter OLB Ohio State
2 21(53) Anthony Fasano TE Notre Dame
3 28(92) Jason Hatcher DE Grambling State
4 28(125) Skyler Green WR Louisiana State
5 5(138) Pat Watkins S Florida State
6 13(182) Montavious Stanley DT Louisville
7 3(211) Paul McQuistan T Weber State
7 16(224) E.J. Whitley T Texas Tech

Easily the worst draft of his time with the Cowboys, none of these players are major contributors.  

Carpenter has been a huge bust, although every year when mini-camps start, he is "poised for a break out year".

Fason was a decent tight end, but he followed Parcells to the Dolphins.

Watkins and McQuistan have been less than spectacular in their backup roles.

If you look at Parcells' four drafts, the two that turned out well were made following a 5-11 and 6-10 season, where high draft picks made it a little easier to make good picks.

The Three Dallas Cowboys Drafts Post-Parcells (Taken from SI.com)


Round Pick (Overall) Player Position School
1 26 (26) Anthony Spencer DE Purdue University
3 3 (67) James Marten T Boston College
4 4 (103) Isaiah Stanback QB Washington
4 23 (122) Doug Free T Northern Illinois
6 4 (178) Nicholas Folk PK Arizona
6 21 (195) Deon Anderson FB Connecticut
7 2 (212) Courtney Brown CB Cal Poly
7 27 (237) Alan Ball CB Illinois

Spencer has had his shares of ups and downs, but is poised to start opposite Ware in 2009 after nagging injuries in 2008.  Spencer will be replacing the soon-to-be traded Greg Ellis.

Folk has been one of the league's top kickers since entering the league. 

The project of Stanback has about run its course, but he has shown flashes in the return game.

The rest were insignificant.


Round Pick Player Position School
1 22 (22) Felix Jones RB Arkansas
1 25 (25) Mike Jenkins CB South Florida
2 30 (61) Martellus Bennett TE Texas A&M
4 23 (122) Tashard Choice RB Georgia Tech
5 8 (143) Orlando Scandrick CB Boise State
6 1 (167) Erik Walden OLB Middle Tennessee

By far the best draft since Parcells departure, the first five picks have all made significant contributions.

Jones averaged 8.9 yards a carry before he was injured, and was only limited by the asinine play-calling by Jason Garrett.  The Cowboys are looking at making him the starter in 2009, and giving Barber back the closer role in which he thrived in.

Jenkins is projected as the starting cornerback after a solid rookie season.  He made mistakes in 2008, but that was to be expected.

Bennett has been a terrific extra weapon for Romo, taking some of the pressure off of Witten by giving defenses another big body that they must defend between the hashes.

Choice showed he could be counted on as a starter in his first NFL game against the league's number one defense, the Pittsburgh Steelers.  He gives Dallas solid depth at running back, and could play a significant role at the end of games as a change of pace back.

Scandrick was an incredible pick in the 5th round, as he has shown potential to be a starting cornerback.   He is current the Cowboys starting nickle cornerback, and will push for playing time against first rounder Jenkins.


Round Pick Player Position School
3 5 (69) Jason Williams OLB Western Illinois
3 11 (75) Robert Brewster G Ball State
4 1 (101) Stephen McGee QB Texas A&M
4 10 (110) Victor Butler OLB Oregon State
4 20 (120) Brandon Williams DE Texas Tech
5 7 (143) DeAngelo Smith CB Cincinnati
5 30 (166) Michael Hamlin S Clemson
5 36 (172)* David Buehler PK USC
6 24 (197) Stephen Hodge S TCU
6 35 (208)* John Phillips TE Virginia
7 18 (227) Mike Mickens CB Cincinnati
7 20 (229) Manuel Johnson WR Oklahoma

The 2009 class is yet-to-be determined.  I, like everyone else (even if they think they know), have no idea how they are going to turn out. 

DallasNews.com blogger Tim McMahon seems to think 11 out of the 12 will make the team. 

That would be incredible considering the positions in which they were drafting.  However I'm not sure how much that says about the current state of the team, or Jerry Jones and company's drafting ability.  

When the Cowboys had 2 first rounders in 2008, they made good on their picks, just like Parcells.

I am not validating Jones as a general manager.  He is the second least qualified general manager in the NFL after the Oakland Raiders Al Davis.  The Cowboys deserve a legitimate general manager.

I also remember how horrible the drafts prior to Parcells (and after Jimmy Johnson) were.  This doesn't mean Jones and his current staff didn't learn a thing or two from Parcells while he was here.

But the recent success in the draft may mean Jones' subordinates, the one's who stayed or were brought in after Parcells' left, are more than qualified to make the team better each Spring during the draft. 

The real void in Parcells' departure is on the sideline.

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