Cowboys Myth: Jerry Jones Inept On Draft Day

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Dec 22, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle Tyron Smith (77) prepares to block against the Washington Redskins during the first half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

“Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain nor freed a human soul.”

-Mark Twain


Petrified opinion regarding Cowboys owner and GM Jerry Jones has chained many a Cowboys fan’s soul. That opinion, shaped largely by a national sports media we know to be slavish to conventional wisdom, asserts Jerry leads an inept war room. This opinion was shaped during the Barry Switzer Era and buttressed through the Wade Phillips regime, but it ignores the most recent four years of draft day successes. Petrified. 

We all recognize the dearth of quality sports analysis in the ESPN era of sporting news, but still much of the swill they spew seems to stick. Perhaps there’s something vaguely hypnotic about metrosexual communications majors reading Vince Vaughn quotes from a teleprompter.

The myth of Jerry’s draft day incompetence is pernicious, as everyone knows Jerry will never step down as GM, so it causes Cowboys fans to abandon hope of ever again rooting for a winner.

Without hope, all an NFL fan has is schadenfreude – taking delight in the misfortune of others. It’s certainly fun to root against the Giants – who reading this didn’t revel in Eli Manning’s 18 TD/27 INT season? So cool. But that joy pales in comparison to rooting for a contender.

The truth is, Jerry has made many mistakes since Jimmy Johnson left the war room in 1994, but he’s learned from those miscues and today leads what has become a pretty trustworthy draft day operation. We can see Jerry’s development as GM by breaking his tenure down by eras.

Percentage of Draft Picks Who Eventually Made Pro Bowl

Head Coach




























The myth is that Jerry hasn’t evolved since Jimmy left, but this graph tells another story. While Switzer, Chan Gailey and Dave Campo worked the war room, the organization drafted pro bowl-caliber talent at a rate far below the NFL average. This data suggests Jerry has gotten a whole lot better at evaluating draft talent since his collaboration with Bill Parcells from 2003 to 2006.

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  • fgoodwin

    John I understand that opposing the herd mentality generates clicks.

    But it doesn’t explain reality. So Jerry’s drafts over the last four years have gotten better? That’s debatable. Reality isn’t debatable and reality is three straight 8-8 seasons.

    If Jerry’s drafts have gotten better, how to explain the continued mediocre results?

    • Ed

      I blame coaches.

    • Old Frog

      Not to state the obvious but two years without all the injuries on the defense and Miles Austin playing like he was paid to and the record over the last 2 seasons would probably have been a lot better.

    • John

      Injuries explain the record the past two years. Injuries on D in particular have been epic. A rebuilding franchise is by definition poorly equipped to deal with injuries.

      I’m not really interested in explaining the win-loss record. Here are the three realities that interest me: Jerry has not traded out of the first round in four years. He’s hit big on 75 percent of those picks. That success rate is excellent for an NFL GM.

  • JerryTheIdiot

    This author a clown and makes no sense. Go learn the game. Jerry has been a complete failure, and this coming from people much more qualified and well known in the journalist world than yourself. I can’t believe they pay you for this inept piece.

  • Big Ed

    Finally a writer who bases his opinion on facts. I never see anyone who disagrees with him in the responses do it with any facts. Counting Frederick, our first round picks the last four years are twice as good as NFL average. I don’t understand the mental processes that can ignore the injury holocaust of the last few years. Yes, every team has injuries and they will average out the same. But only over a period of many years. In a one or two year period any single team can be devastated or exalted by the injury bug. Our only present consolation is that after the last two years the law of averages owes a good period.

  • disqus_kLJwdEdnOL

    It’s refreshing to see that Jones has gotten much better at drafting. It only took him 15 or so years to develop that skill. Maybe in another 15 years he will learn how to handle the salary cap and Dallas can once again compete at a high level. Too bad though, due to my age I probably won’t be around to see it happen. The fact is, Jerry Jones has made a complete mess of what use to be a proud franchise and no charts pointing otherwise is going to change that. Maybe charts showing the number of coaching changes, inordinate amount of salaries to players, the number of team successes who have head coaches with limited authority might also shed some light on the reality of the reasons the Cowboys are a crippled team.