As the draft goes, so goes the team. And for the Dallas Cowboys, they have had a very troubled past when it comes to the NFL Draft. It is only in recent years that it appears Dallas has rebounded a bit. But prior to that, just how bad have the Cowboys drafts been? From the 2004-10 draft classes, only six players currently remain on the team. In this series, we’ll take a look at Dallas’ last ten drafts starting with 2004.
2nd Round – #43 Overall – Julius Jones, Running Back – Notre Dame
Pick Analysis: Although the trade initially appeared to have paid off, injuries limited Jones’ career. He spent four years with the Cowboys. In that span, Jones recorded 3,484 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns. Jones left Dallas in early 2008 to play for the Seattle Seahawks. His last game was for the New Orleans Saints during the 2010 season.
2nd Round – #52 Overall – Jacob Rogers, Offensive Tackle – Southern Cal
Pick Analysis: Rogers played two games as part of the special team group for the Cowboys his rookie year. Then he suffered a knee injury prior to his sophomore campaign and was subsequently released.
3rd Round – #83 Overall – Stephen Peterman. Guard – LSU
Pick Analysis: Injuries also severely limited Peterson’s career. He spent just two years with Dallas before being released.
4th Round – #121 Overall – Bruce Thornton, Cornerback – Georgia
Pick Analysis: Thornton played one game as a Cowboy before an ACL tear ended his rookie season. The next year he was signed off the Cowboys practice squad by the San Francisco 49ers.
5th Round – #144 Overall – Sean Ryan, Tight End – Boston College
Pick Analysis: Ryan spent most of his time on the Cowboys practice squad. But he would occasionally make an appearance on the main squad filling-in for injured players. He spent two seasons in Dallas before being traded to the New York Jets for a 2007 seventh round pick.That pick resulted in Cal Poly cornerback Courtney Brown. Ryan spent the next five seasons bouncing between six different teams.
7th Round - #205 Overall – Nathan Jones, Cornerback – Rutgers
7th Round – #216 Overall – Patrick Crayton, Wide Receiver – Northwestern Oklahoma State
Pick Analysis: Crayton is probably the most productive player for the Cowboys out of this group. He spent six years with the team as one of their more consistent receivers. In 82 games, Crayton recorded 196 receptions for 2,888 yards and 23 touchdowns for Dallas. But the Cowboys seemed like they were constantly attempting to replace him and finally Crayton requested his release via his agent. A day later, Dallas traded him to the San Diego Chargers for a seventh round pick. That pick resulted in Georgia fullback Shaun Chapas. Crayton played less than two seasons in sunny San Diego (23 games total). He attempted a comeback last year with the New Orleans Saints, but was released after only seven days.
7th Round – #223 Overall – Jacques Reeves, Cornerback – Purdue
Pick Analysis: A back-up for the Cowboys for four years, Reeves had a career season in 2007 with 61 tackles. He would use that season as a springboard in free agency, landing with the Houston Texans. But Reeves would only play two years in Houston after suffering a leg injury. After two years out of football, he attempted a comeback with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2012. He was released after playing in two games due to an hamstring injury.
2004 Draft Analysis: The Cowboys traded their first round pick to the Buffalo Bills for a second round pick, a fifth round pick and a first round pick in 2005. With these picks, the Cowboys choose Jones, Ryan and LSU’s DT Marcus Spears respectively. They also passed on Oregon State Running Back Stephen Jackson to do so. In retrospect, Dallas could have secured their starting running back position for the next ten years by selecting Jackson.
Rogers, Peterman, Thornton and Ryan all spent two seasons our less with the Cowboys. Outside of Jones, Dallas’ seventh round choices make this draft just one step above above the worst in franchise history.