For those of you who may have missed part one, you can find it here:
As was discussed in the first piece, there are four major issues with the structure of this franchise. Four items that have put the Cowboys in the rarest of ruts. A team capable of going toe-to-toe with the best teams and just falling short, beating the bad teams and finding ways to extract defeat from an almost assuredly winnable situation. Perfectly mediocre. Thanks to the continual spinning of the wheels with trying to find next Michael Irvin and the ludicrous changing of coaches, the Dallas Cowboys have managed three straight 8-8 seasons. There are more issues than just those, however, that have contributed to the running in place. Let’s start with second most important factor in the failures of this team. That is the method of talent evaluation, specifically the NFL Draft.
As timing would have it, at the very moment we discuss the Cowboys ineptitude at the art of adding talent to the organization, the NFL Scouting Combine is wrapping up today. When you listen to the Joneses discuss their draft plans publicly, it’s no wonder this team constantly underachieves. Last year, Jerry addressed the defensive line as an area of strength and completely neglected it. Nineteen different players later, we know that was a huge error in judgement. This year, son Stephen openly ponders avoiding drafting for need… bracing all of us Cowboys fans for the inevitable head scratching move come May 8 when Dallas is on the clock to make the 16th pick in this year’s draft.
If the recent past is a good indicator, what you should expect is to see the Cowboys trade the pick, most likely down to obtain more picks later. Draft day trades have occurred in five of the last seven seasons involving their first round choice. If the moves that were made resembled anything remotely close to the wizardry of Jimmy Johnson, that would be one thing but largely, the moves have revealed something far more worrisome. Maybe all these trades are made because the Jones clan is never sure on who or what they want. The only two seasons that did not involve a move with the first round pick were 2009 when they had no pick and 2011 when it was so blatantly obvious that the choice HAD to be Tyron Smith, anything else would have caused a mutiny.
Looking deeper into the lack of success that Dallas has exhibited on draft day tells the story behind why this team cannot climb up the mountain top. Since 2006, I researched the top 10 teams with the most regular season and playoff wins combined. From the top (the Patriots with 108) to the bottom (the Falcons with 74), each team has something similar in common. They hit on their drafts. The majority of these teams still have around 40-50% of the players they drafted over the last eight years on their roster. The Cowboys roster in 2013 was made up of only 34% of drafted players over that same time frame. (If you’re wondering, Dallas has totaled 65 wins from 2006-2013). The only teams in the top ten they have bested in this regard are the Bears and the Colts. The Bears were able to overcome their draft deficiency with an unbelievable defense that finished in the top five three times during this span. The Colts were able to do so by having Peyton Manning and then Andrew Luck as their quarterbacks.
It isn’t just a quantity issue either. There is equal inferiority in the quality of the picks as well. There have only been six players drafted in the last six years that would be considered as part of the “core” of this team. Three of these six (Travis Frederick, Tyron Smith and Dez Bryant) have been selected in round one. Sean Lee was a second round selection. DeMarco Murray was picked in round three and Orlando Scandrick was chosen in round five. Not only are the Cowboys only getting one player of significance per year, they are also not getting any talent in later rounds. What’s the point of obtaining more picks by constantly trading down if you rarely maximize your options? If you’re making solid round one picks and missing in the late rounds, why not just make those higher first round picks?