Why the Dallas Cowboys get a pass on the Taco Charlton miss

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 16: Taco Charlton #97 of the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on September 16, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 16: Taco Charlton #97 of the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on September 16, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys released 2017 first-rounder Taco Charlton earlier this week. Here’s why you shouldn’t fret too much over the blown pick.

What do Ryan Leaf, Courtney Brown, Lawrence Phillips, JaMarcus Russell, Blaine Gabbert, Blake Bortles, Tony Mandarich, Vernon Gholston, and Aaron Curry all have in common? Well, it isn’t that they were drafted by or played for the Dallas Cowboys at any point in their respective careers, but it’s the fact that they are all among the biggest NFL Draft busts in history.

As mentioned, none of them were drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, but the 28th overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft was. Taco Charlton was drafted out of Michigan by the Cowboys and was supposed to be a versatile and tenacious pass rusher. Unfortunately for the team and Charlton himself, no one ever got to see it play out on the field.

While drafting Charlton was a bad move in hindsight, we must not charge this to the NFL Draft character of the Cowboys’ decision-makers. The reason for this is simple. You miss 100 percent of the shots that you don’t take, so you have to keep shooting your shot and frankly, the Cowboys hit most of the shots that they shoot in the NFL Draft.

Although we could go much deeper than this and still prove the same point, let’s take a look at the Cowboys’ first and second-round draft picks over the last 10 years. They didn’t have a first or second-round pick in 2009, while they took Dez Bryant in round one of 2010 and Sean Lee in round 2. In the first round of 2011, they took Tyron Smith and Bruce Carter in the second.

In 2012 they didn’t have a second-round pick, but they took Morris Claiborne with the sixth pick of the first round. They took Travis Frederick in the first round of 2013 while nabbing Gavin Escobar in the second round that year. In 2014, they took Zack Martin in round one, while landing Tank Lawrence in the second round.

In 2015 the Cowboys drafted Byron Jones with their first-round selection and got Randy Gregory with their second-round pick. In 2016 they took Zeke in round one and Jaylon Smith in the second round.

The aforementioned Charlton was the first-rounder for Dallas in 2017, while they were able to get Chidobe Awuzie in round two. 2018 saw the selection of Leighton Vander Esch in round one and Conner Williams in round two.

While Trysten Hill was the second-round selection in this past year’s draft, the Cowboys’ first-round pick can essentially be summed up in two words, Amari Cooper. When looking back at the list of players drafted in rounds one or two over the past 10 years though, the Cowboys have a hit rate of about 78 percent. Out of the 18 selections they’ve made, 14 of them hit.

While that number is predicated on the fact that 13 of the players have hit individually, you give the Cowboys a half notch a piece for both Randy Gregory and Trysten Hill to get them to 14. This works because although we haven’t seen much of Hill yet, everything we have heard about the second-rounder has been mostly positive and that he could even be a game-changer at some point.

You give another half point for Randy Gregory because he has substance abuse issues as characterized by the NFL. But when he is on the field for the Dallas Cowboys, he produces at a high level.

While you would have loved for Charlton to work out, because you can never have too many good players and/or pass rushers, you can’t fully scold them for getting one wrong. If most of the teams in the NFL hit on 75 percent of their picks from rounds one and two, they would take it every day of the week and four times on Gameday Sunday.

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This is why you can’t really knock the Dallas Cowboys for getting this one wrong. To quote the great Mike Epps in his portrayal of Day-Day in the movie Next Friday, players mess up and the Cowboys did on this one. Keep the faith though, because if the first two games of this season are any indication of how well the team is constructed, they’ll be just fine.