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.