Was the Dallas Cowboys nine player 2017 draft class a bust?

Dallas Cowboys, NFL Draft (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Dallas Cowboys, NFL Draft (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

It’s easy to be opinionated after the Dallas Cowboys’ draft is over. Yet history has shown it takes at least three years to confirm that opinion.

The Dallas Cowboys have seven selections in the upcoming NFL draft. They hold all their original picks except for their sixth-round selection traded to Miami for defensive end Robert Quinn but received a fifth-round compensatory pick for losing wide receiver Cole Beasley.

The temptation will be to analyze and grade each selection immediately. Resist that temptation.

Case in point, the Cowboys received some glowing grades for their 2017 NFL draft. Going into the draft, the experts at NFL.com felt the Cowboys needed to find an edge rusher, safety, corner, and tight end to replace an aging Jason Witten.

Immediately after the draft, NFL.com gave the Cowboys an A- for the nine-player haul that featured defensive end Taco Charlton. Instant grades on a draft represent an assessment of the team’s ability to draft for need without reaching for the player.

Here’s NFL.com draft analyst Chad Reuter’s opinion of the Cowboys first-round pick:

"“Dallas had a choice between Charlton and T.J. Watt. Either could have fit their bill, and the need was certainly there. I had Watt with a higher grade, but Charlton’s length and agility are impressive. He’ll be a very good player for Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett.”"

SI.com had the same opinion of the Cowboys first-round selection. They felt that the Charlton pick filled a need at a good value supporting their A- grade. Overall, SI.com gave Dallas a B+ grade.

The Dallas Morning News writers had four opinions. Two writers gave the Cowboys an A, one a B+ and the last a B. So it is clear that a cross-section of the media felt the Cowboys had a good if not great draft.

Yet hindsight tells a different story. Of the nine selections, only four remain with the Cowboys in 2020: corners Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis, safety Xavier Woods and wide receiver Noah Brown.

Two players, Marquez White and Jordan Carrell have never played a game in the NFL and a third Joey Ivie made his NFL debut only in 2019. Fourth-round pick Ryan Switzer was traded for a defensive tackle who was cut before playing a regular season game for Dallas. And no need to revisit the Taco fiasco.

While it would seem that the 2017 draft was a bust for Dallas, all is not lost. Adam Rank from NFL.com did a draft do-over and published his first round.

Skip over the ninth pick as there is no need to keep ripping the band-aid off that wound. With the 27th pick, the one just before the Cowboys, Rank had the Chiefs selecting safety Xavier Woods and with the 31st pick, Rank suggested the Falcons pick Chidobe Awuzie.

While Cowboys Nation will likely consider the Cowboys 2017 draft a bust as a result of missing on the first-round pick, Dallas found two above-average starters according to Pro Football Focus in Awuzie and Woods. A potential third starter, Lewis, may finally blossom with the Kris Richard big corner cookie-cutter mold removed.

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So as you watch the 2020 draft later this month, remember that it will take at least three years to decide the success of the draft. The Cowboys 2017 draft was viewed as an instant success that eventually felt like a bust but in reality, was average.