1998 – Eighth overall pick: Greg Ellis, DE – North Carolina
Third in team history with 77 sacks in 11 seasons with Dallas
Ellis was and forever will be the ultimate “yeah, but…” guy in Dallas Cowboys’ history. Ellis was reliable, solid, and at times very good but he never will compare to arguably the second-best receiver in the history of the league who easily could have been a Cowboy. Passing on Randy Moss, who paid Dallas back by scoring ten touchdowns and never losing against them, to this day is one of the biggest draft fails in team history. Overall this selection grades out as a B-.
2002 – Eighth overall pick: Roy Williams, S – Oklahoma
Five Pro Bowl appearances, one All-Pro selection in seven seasons with Dallas
The selection of Williams is one of the hardest to effectively retrograde. Williams’ career was much like a comet in that he burned bright and fast before burning out and fading away. He was a devastating tackler until teams figured out he was a liability in coverage, then he lost all confidence and effectively became useless. The fact that Ed Reed was chosen 16 picks later does not help things. With all that factored in, the drafting of Williams earns the Dallas Cowboys a B- grade.
2003 – Fifth overall pick: Terence Newman, CB – Kansas State
Two time Pro Bowl selection in nine seasons with Dallas
Newman, in many ways, was similar to the pick of Greg Ellis. Another solid, sometimes spectacular, reliable selection that carved out a 15-year NFL career. The fact that no other cornerback in his drafted bested him helps the choice of Newman as much as who else was available hurt Ellis. The fact remains that Newman could go down as one of the most underrated players in recent memory further solidifies the A- draft grade Dallas gets for this pick.