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

Years

NFL

Cowboys

Jimmy

89-’93

9.3%

22.2%

Switzer

94-’97

11.7%

5.7%

Gailey/Campo

98-’02

11.2%

10.0%

Parcells

03-’06

12.9%

16.1%

Wade

07-’10

9.5%

12.1%

Garrett

11-’13

4.2%

9.1%

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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