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


Total Draft Picks

Eventual Pro Bowlers

Overall League PB-Pick Ratio

Cowboys Picks

Cowboys Pro Bowlers

Cowboys PB-Pick Ratio





























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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  • 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.