The DC Times

A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football

By Jonathan Bales

Dallas Cowboys’ Top 15 Best/Worst Draft Picks Since 2000

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Jonathan Bales

The Cowboys have been been incredibly up and down in their drafting success since 2000.  The results of their draft classes have been extreme, from the ineptitude of the 2001 class (Quincy Carter, Tony Dixon, Willie Blade, Markus Steele, Matt Lehr, Daleroy Stewart, Colston Weatherington, John Nix and Char-ron Dorsey) to the sensational overall value of the 2008 class (Felix Jones, Mike Jenkins, Martellus Bennett, Tashard Choice, Orlando Scandrick and Erik Walden).

I’ve previously ranked the top 10 Dallas Cowboys draft classes of all-time.  Below, I have listed my choices for the 15 best and worst individual Cowboys draft picks since 2000.  Note that the round in which a player was drafted contributes heavily to his ranking.  Seventh round busts, for example, aren’t nearly as detrimental as those in the first round.

15 Worst Dallas Cowboys Draft Picks Since 2000

  • 15. S Tony Dixon (Second Round–2001)

Dixon had just one more career interception than me.

  • 14. C Al Johnson (Second Round–2003)

Johnson played until 2008, but his time in Dallas was marred by injury and, well, a lack of talent.

  • 13. DT Willie Blade (Third Round–2001)

From 2001-2005, Blade racked up 18 total tackles.

  • 12. LB Markus Steele (Fourth Round–2001)

I honestly don’t even know who this is.

  • 11. WR Isaiah Stanback (Fourth Round–2007)

As a college quarterback, everyone knew Stanback was a project.  His five career receptions justify that.

  • 10. CB Bruce Thornton (Fourth Round–2004)

Thornton played on a different team each of his four years in the league.

  • 9. CB Derek Ross (Third Round–2002)

Ross had a promising rookie season with five picks, but he recorded just one more the rest of his career. In 2005, he was arrested and charged with drug trafficking.

  • 8.  CB Kareem Larrimore (Fourth Round–2000)

Larrimore was drafted in 2000, and playing arena football by 2002.  He was reportedly fined at least 12 times during his two years in Dallas.

  • 7. CB Jamar Wall (Sixth Round–2010)

Wall, a pure Cover 2 cornerback, made no sense from the beginning last year.  He was cut before the regular season.

  • 6. LB Jason Williams (Third Round–2009)

Williams was the first pick for Dallas in 2009, but he simply never fit into the Cowboys’ 3-4 scheme.

  • 5. CB Dwayne Goodrich (Second Round–2000)

Goodrich was in Dallas just three years.  In 2003, he was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison for vehicular manslaughter.

  • 4. OT James Marten (Third Round–2007)

Marten played just one season in Dallas before being released.

  • 3. OT Jacob Rogers (Second Round–2004)

At the time of Rogers’ release in 2006, he was the highest drafted player to be cut from the 2004 NFL Draft.

  • 2. QB Quincy Carter (Second Round–2001)

Not even getting into this one.

  • 1. LB Bobby Carpenter (First Round–2006)

Was Carpenter the worst player on this list?  Probably not, but his first round draft spot makes his horrible play tough to swallow.

15 Best Dallas Cowboys Draft Picks Since 2000

  • 15. CB Mike Jenkins (First Round–2008)

Jenkins regressed badly in 2010, but he should rebound in 2011 with a more potent pass-rush.

  • 14. LB Sean Lee (Second Round–2010)

I didn’t like the Lee pick at the time, but the Penn State product reminds me much of a young Keith Brooking.

  • 13. OLB Victor Butler (Fourth Round–2009)

Butler is one of my favorite players and I think Rob Ryan will give him an opportunity to flourish in 2011.

  • 12. RB Tashard Choice (Fourth Round–2008)

Choice’s value in the fourth round was outstanding, and he’d be higher on this list if Jason Garrett fed him the ball.

  • 11. RB Marion Barber (Fourth Round–2005)

Barber will probably be out of Dallas this season, but he had a few strong years as “The Barbarian.”

  • 10.  CB Orlando Scandrick (Fifth Round–2008)

Scandrick improved considerably in 2010 and, as a fifth-rounder, the value was superb.

  • 9.  WR Patrick Crayton (Seventh Round–2004)

Crayton’s explosiveness was always a concern, but his consistency never came into question.

  • 8.  WR Dez Bryant (First Round–2010)

The only person that can stop Bryant from becoming an All-Pro wide receiver is himself.

  • 7.  C Andre Gurode (Second Round–2002)

Gurode’s issues with snapping overshadowed his talent for awhile.  He’s still a productive player.

  • 6.  LB Bradie James (Fourth Round–2003)

James’ 582 career tackles are already fourth in team history.

  • 5.  OT Doug Free (Fourth Round–2007)

This ranking is based primarily on Free’s future.  He looks like he’ll be at left tackle in Dallas for awhile.

  • 4.  CB Terence Newman (First Round–2003)

Newman’s decline has been steep, but when healthy, he was one of the league’s top cornerbacks.

  • 3.  TE Jason Witten (Third Round–2003)

The future Hall of Famer is still the epitome of how a tight end should be put together.

  • 2.  NT Jay Ratliff (Seventh Round–2005)

Ratliff’s production from nose tackle, a position that doesn’t really suit him well, is astonishing.  He must be one of the better seventh round picks in NFL history.

  • 1.  OLB DeMarcus Ware (First Round–2005)

87.5 career sacks, five Pro Bowls, three-time All-Pro selection, and the NFL’s most feared pass-rusher.  He improves the Cowboys’ defense more than you can imagine.

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16 Responses to Dallas Cowboys’ Top 15 Best/Worst Draft Picks Since 2000

  1. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    No Robert Brewster (OT) – 3rd round – in the top 15 worst? He playing in 1 NFL game as was cut to make room for Jesse Holley – the reality show winner…

  2. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    That’s “he PLAYED in 1 NFL and was cut…”

    I agree w/ Vince, there needs to be a way to retract or correct a post once posted.

  3. Vince_Grey says:

    The 2008 class was/is “sensational”? Perhaps we have differing ideas about the definition of that word.

    The `75 class was sensational. The class of `64, no question. Maybe the `91 group.

    In three seasons, Felix Jones has a grand total of 1751 yards rushing… or about what Emmitt got in just one of his better years. His 5.3 YPC average is excellent, but he’s never been over 800 yards rushing and he has only 9 TD’s total in 3 years.

    Those numbers aren’t bad, but they certainly are far short of what one would expect out of a 1st round pick.

    Mike Jenkins made the Pro Bowl in 2009, but regressed all the way to below average last season, plus his tackling was atrocious. Maybe he comes back, maybe not, but you’d have to agree the jury’s still out.

    In three seasons, Martellus Bennett has been a glorified tackle. Top blocker, no question, but his receiving has been spotty at best and you don’t spend 2nd round picks on blocking-only TE’s. He has lots of potential, but that’s all it is right now. Potential.

    Personally I like Tashard Choice, but the coaches don’t for whatever reason, and he’s been an underused Just OK backup so far.

    Scandrick’s probably been the most consistent of these guys, and he’s definitely an above-average (But nowhere near great) slot corner, but so far that’s all he is. Has not proven he can start on the outside.

    I don’t even know why you mentioned Walden. He was cut by us and has been a journeyman since. Did have one really nice game for the Packers though.

    I see this group as incomplete with potential. No one has really consistently stepped out and produced at a starter level for their time in Dallas. Maybe one will, maybe several will, but no one has yet.

  4. Vince_Grey says:

    I’d move Witten up to #2, but other than that, I really can’t argue with the list. In terms of quality/quantity at the top, might be the worst 15 year stretch in Cowboy history though. Kind of depressing, really.

    BTW, Witten was taken in the 3rd round, not the 2nd. I know TE isn’t a position normally coveted in the top of round one, but I’m still mystified as to how Jason lasted so long. His measurables were rock solid, and he was a good kid at Tennessee. He did score an embarrassing 19 on the Wonderlick, (I took it and scored a 34, and it’s painfully obvious I’m no genius.) but for some reason Tennessee kids usually score low on that test as a rule.

    The really funny thing is listing the TE’s taken in the 2nd round before Witten:

    The immortal Bennie Joppru and L. J. Smith.

    LoL!

  5. Tyrone..I did have Brewster listed, but bumped him because he has yet to be a total bust yet. He did show SOME promise in preseason last season at RT. He’s obviously not looking great, but I don’t think he deserves to be on this list just yet.

  6. VG–I think the combination of all those players makes the total value very, very good. All of the selections were “hits” other than Walden (who I mentioned, BTW, because I was simply listing the entire class). All others have provided value for their draft slot (yes, even Jenkins/Jones in the late first). None are sensational, but putting together a draft without a true “miss” is very difficult.

  7. Oops..thanks for catching the Witten “typo”…not really a typo..I just messed it up.

  8. Vince_Grey says:

    JB – Ah, OK. I see how you grade now.

    I, OTOH, look at the big picture overall value. If one guy becomes a long time All Pro and the rest are complete busts, that. to me, is still a pretty good draft, and one with several long term quality starters (Key word being quality. Just because you’re a starter doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a good player. Just the best available option at the time.) is as well. Again, even if the rest are 1st camp cuts.

    To be “sensational” I’m looking for either multiple All Pros or at least one All Pro and several quality starters.

  9. Joe Shunt says:

    Why is Demarcus Ware totaled at 87.5 sacks?? I think you might have taken your information from Wikipedia as it has 87.5 sacks.. I might be missing something some where but where did he get 7.5 extra sacks from? Unless that is also counting pre-season maybe??

    NFL.com has him at 80.0 sacks.. Here are his numbers per year since entering the league.. 8, 11.5, 14, 20, 11, 15.5 = 80.0

    Anyways, D.Ware is a Animal, best pass rusher in the league.. I agree with D.Ware at #1.. I would put Witten at #2 and Ratiff at #3 on my list..

  10. Vince_Grey says:

    Joe- I’m pretty sure you’re right and that Ware has 80 sacks. That works out to an average of 13 per year. Not bad at all. That said, I wish he created more turnovers, like LT used to in his prime, and I wish he was a little more consistent with is QB pressures. But, I’ve said before I believe that problem is due to a general lack of pressure from the Cowboy’s other defenders.

    Not to put words in JB’s mouth, but I think he rated Ratliff higher than Witten because he was drafted so low. Of course, I agree with you that Witten should be #2, and where he was drafted is irrelevant.

  11. Rick says:

    NFL.com’s sack numbers aren’t always perfect, from what I’ve seen. I think Jonathan uses his own stats and counts the playoffs as well.

    Great list overall, but not sure about Jamar Wall. Bad pick, but he was a 6th rounder. While most 6th rounders at least make it out of training camp, most of them are career special teamers, if not kickers, punters, or fullbacks.

  12. moses says:

    Jacob Rodgers got hurt and never really came back. I am not sure if he would have been great but if that were the case LeFleur would have been on the list.

    Felix Jones could be one of those “worst picks” as well. He hasn’t contributed much and when you see what coaches do with players that you never hear of, it makes you wonder if Jones will be nothing more than a change of pace back. Look at the players chosen after him (Mendenhall, C Johnson, Starks 6th round Packers in 2010).

    Sean Lee should not be on the list at this point. Though he played, he did not start until late. Impact player and great selections need a history and he doesn’t have enough under his belt at this point. Just comparing him to those in his class, he doesn’t pan out. Look at Worilds vs Lee. Worilds was a regular contributor for the Steelers, a very good defensive team. Spikes, drafted after Lee, started for the Patriots. Veldheer was an OT out of Hillsdale that I was hoping the Cowboys would have targetted. He ended up starting at OLT for the Raiders.

    Looking at the company that Lee was in during the draft, he looks like an average pick.

    Mike Jenkins hasn’t done enough to be on the best list yet. I agree with a lot of the comments that his regression could get him on the worst list.

  13. willis says:

    Wow, have ya’ll seen the NFL.com feature on J.J. Watt? We need a guy like that on the Cowboys!

    Also, have to agree about S. Lee and even some of the other players on the best drafted board, but it does make sense if you are going off of potential. I’m hoping we will see Lee, Dez, and Jenkins all move up on this board by next year(I think they will). I really believe if we plug in a few good players where there were gaping holes last year, it will make the team better as a whole including those players(especially Jenkins).

  14. Vince–I see your perspective, and I’d agree. And you’re right on about Ratliff…Witten is the superior player, but Ratliff’s value is incredible.

    Joe–I did! Probably should have used a less fallible source!

  15. Rick–I listed Wall because of how little sense the pick made at the time. I realize he was a low-round prospect, but it seemed like throwing away a pick to me. He didn’t fit in the Cowboys’ scheme at all. I still don’t get it.

    Moses–Perhaps the presence of Lee, Jones, and Jenkins is a sign that, with the exception of a few really good years, the Cowboys 2000-2010 drafts have been pretty poor. I do like all three players to have big years in 2011. Jenkins WILL rebound.

    Willis–Just posted a feature on Watt!

  16. Cody says:

    What about miles Austin as one of the best and tony Romeo as one of the worest

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