Cowboys Myth: Jerry Jones Inept On Draft Day

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Jan 22, 2014; Ko

Except it’s not as simple as that. Drafting pro-bowl caliber talent is hard to do, and it gets increasingly difficult with each round that passes. During the years between Jimmy and Parcells, about 11 percent of all NFL draft picks eventually became pro bowlers. See the breakdown by round below:

Post-Jimmy Drafts – 1994 to 2002

Round

Total Draft Picks

Eventual Pro Bowlers

Overall League PB-Pick Ratio

Cowboys Picks

Cowboys Pro Bowlers

Cowboys PB-Pick Ratio

1

276

112

40.6%

5

2

40.0%

2

287

56

19.5%

13

3

23.1%

3

307

33

10.7%

11

1

9.1%

4-7

1355

53

3.9%

46

0

0.0%

So Jerry hit on 40 percent of his first-round draft picks during this era – and so did all his peers. This suggests Jerry recognized first-round talent as well as any competent GM in the league – something no one gives him credit for. His problem was, in nine years, he had only five first-round picks – he kept trading away his team’s future pro bowlers.

The lesson here isn’t to draft better. Even for the best GMs, a first-round pick is a 50-50 proposition. We ridicule Jerry for using first-round picks on Shante Carver and David LaFleur, but every GM has those kind of misses on his resume. The mistake is in trading out of the first round altogether.

It’s a lesson Jerry appears to have learned. He hasn’t traded out of the first round since 2009, and here’s what he’s done with his subsequent first rounders: Two pro bowlers in Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith, a question mark in Morris Claiborne, and a promising contributor in Travis Frederick. That’s excellent draft work.

Some people want to blame Jerry for every bone-headed draft move, and credit someone else with every draft success. We’re not going to do that here. Jerry sits atop this corporate structure, so the blame and credit are both his. It’s still early to evaluate the Garrett Era draft classes, but so far they’re drafting pro bowlers at twice the rate of their NFL peers.

The past four years, Jerry has been building a contender through the draft. Now that he is hoarding his premium draft assets instead of wasting them on trades, Cowboys fans have cause for hope.

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