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The Cowboys have had a number of high picks flop, but at the same time have struck gold with playmakers such as Dez Bryant (above, with ball).
For the past four offseasons, the Cowboys have had an eerily impressive ability to produce boom or bust draft classes.
Here are the year-to-year results:
2009: The Cowboys have an impressive 12 total picks. While they did not have a first-round selection, expectations were through the roof going into that year’s draft.
How did they pan out?
Six of the 12 picks never even made the roster, and none of them became a starter. They traded their second-round pick to the Buffalo Bills for their third- and fourth-round picks. Those two picks produced nothing, while the Bills drafted a staple in their offensive line in Andy Levitre.
After Victor Butler left before last season, no one in the 2009 draft class remains on the current Cowboys roster.
On the bright side, at least fifth-round kicker David Buehler hilariously beat cornerback (and fellow fifth-rounder) DeAngelo Smith in a 40-yard dash in training camp that year.
2010: The Cowboys have just six picks, but receive a massive payoff.
Their first-round pick was a player they had zero need for, but felt was simply too talented to pass up at pick 24: Dez Bryant. Pretty hard to argue against that now.
More impressively, Bryant may not have been the best pick of that draft.
The Cowboys’ second-rounder that year was an injury-prone Penn State linebacker named Sean Lee, who is now the leader of the defense and proud owner of a $42 million contract extension.
Promising seventh-round defensive tackle Sean Lissemore was unfortunately traded, as the Cowboys felt he was only a good fit for a 3-4 defense.
2011: For the first time in Jerry Jones’ tenure as owner, the Cowboys drafted an offensive lineman in the first round.
That offensive lineman just happens to be Tyron Smith, who thanks to incredible work ethic, has become one of the best tackles in football. And he is just 23 years old.
Sixth-rounder Dwayne Harris also provides depth at wide receiver, special teams ability and an above-average punt return game.
The Cowboys also took a chance on another injury-prone linebacker in the second round, Bruce Carter. Carter has struggled with injuries but showed in 2012 what he is capable of with his athleticism, and he will look to bounce back for 2014.
Overall, a good draft class with plenty of potential.
2012: The Cowboys are still waiting for their picks to pan out.
The highlight is the Cowboys trading up to pick No. 6 to draft cornerback Morris Claiborne, who was their highest-rated defensive back since Deion Sanders.
Claiborne has not become the playmaker the Cowboys hoped for, while the rest of the class either did not produce or have been decimated by injuries. After decent drafts in back-to-back years, the 2012 draft class has so far been one of the worst in a long time.
2013: Although they just finished their rookie seasons, this draft class already looks like a fairly subpar.
The Cowboys inexplicably kicked off the draft by choosing a center in the first round, Travis Frederick. To Frederick’s credit, he made the All-Rookie team and had a quality season, especially with Brian Waters on the line next to him. But it is mighty tough to justify picking a center in the first round.
Next pick, pass-catching tight end Gavin Escobar has clear talent but looked utterly lost at times last year.
The brightest spot of this draft is third-rounder and hometown kid, the aforementioned wide receiver Williams.
Williams was very productive in the wake of Austin’s nagging injuries, and with Austin gone, he will likely see a drastic increase in playing time. Williams could perhaps improve on his rookie stats of 44 catches, 736 yards and five touchdowns.
As the slide shows, the Cowboys have had their share of poor picks and superb picks. The draft is crucial for a franchise to be successful, as evidenced by the key players the Cowboys have drafted recently.
Patience is running thin in Dallas, and this is arguably a make-or-break year for many of the players. No one can predict who the Cowboys will draft this year, but if they plan to compete, they must inject talent into the club.