What we can learn from the Cowboys’ draft wagers?
Dallas has obviously swung for the fences a lot in recent years. But remember, most home-run hitters have a high strike-out average too. It goes with the territory. Big swings can result in big scores and big failures. That seems to be what’s happened with the Cowboys lately. But let’s be a little more specific.
Taking the Amari Cooper trade out of the equation, the Cowboys have gambled five times in recent years. Two of those choices appear to be total busts, at least for the moment: Taco Charlton and Randy Gregory (though I’m still rooting for Gregory to redeem himself).
Of the remaining three picks, I think it’s fair to call the Jaylon Smith pick a qualified success. But the jury is still out on the Vander Esch and Trysten Hill picks.
Vander Esch might go on to have a brilliant career. But he might not. As for Trysten Hill, who knows? It’s just to early to tell.
And the same is true for the Amari Cooper trade. If the Cowboys can sign him to a reasonable contract, I think a lot of observers would view that trade as a big success. But there’s still an “If” there. So we’ll see.
I think the logical question is this: Has this gambling strategy paid off? Has swinging for the fences been worth it for Dallas, or would they have been better off making safer picks?
I think that’s an easy call. They’ve obviously whiffed on two of these five swings, and the death toll could go higher depending on what happens with Vander Esch and Hill. Remember, all of these picks have been first and second-rounders.
Most players taken from these rounds tend to be solid starters, sometimes even Pro Bowl players. Can you imagine who the Cowboys could have on their team with that second-round pick in 2015, had they not gambled on Gregory? Frank Clark, the Pro Bowl defensive end was taken by the Seattle Seahawks just a few picks later.
I don’t know if the Cowboys had Clark on their board five years ago, but I do know that last year, they had UCF safety Juan Thornhill in their sites, before choosing Hill. For the record, Thornhill started most of the season for the Super Bowl Bowl-winning Kansas City Chiefs, instead of riding the bench like Hill.
We could go on, but I won’t belabor the point. For me, the results of this analysis are pretty clear. Dallas should not have made these gambles. Too many of them haven’t paid off. But that’s the nature of gambles. They usually don’t work out.
Safe picks, though more boring, usually do. Going back to the 2014 draft, how many would rather have selected quarterback Johnny Manziel over perennial All-Pro guard Zack Martin? No one.
I don’t know what the Cowboys head office will do in the upcoming 2020 draft. It’s still pretty early, so they probably don’t know yet either. But I’d like to think they’ve done the same analysis I’ve done here, and have sworn off gambling this year.
That’s my hope: That the Dallas Cowboys make safe choices in the 2020 draft. I think if they just pick according to vice president of player personal and scouting genius Will McClay’s draft board, they’ll do much better. But hey, that’s just my opinion. What do you think?