The 5 best overall draft classes in Dallas Cowboys history

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAR 01: Mike McCarthy, head coach of the Dallas Cowboys speaks to reporters during the NFL Draft Combine at the Indiana Convention Center on March 1, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAR 01: Mike McCarthy, head coach of the Dallas Cowboys speaks to reporters during the NFL Draft Combine at the Indiana Convention Center on March 1, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /
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Cowboys, DeMarcus Ware
Sep 22, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware (94) smiles while on the sidelines during the fourth quarter against the St. Louis Rams at AT&T Stadium. The Dallas Cowboys beat St. Louis Rams 31-7. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports /

123. . . . Class of 2005 (40.63 wAV/Pick). 1. player

Ah, yes, the cream of the crop. The Cowboys class of 2005 is significantly better than the next best by a whopping 8.32 wAV. That is double the difference between the second and fifth-best classes of 2003 and 1998. Dallas selected eight players in the 2005 NFL Draft. Of the eight players, there’s one future Hall of Famer, five First-Team All-Pro seasons, and 14 Pro Bowl seasons. There are multiple names that you will recognize from this class.

With the 11th pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys drafted a linebacker from Troy, DeMarcus Ware. He was recently snubbed from being a first-ballot Hall of Famer but will likely get inducted soon.

From 2006 to 2012, Ware was on the First or Second-Team All-Pro team roster. He had four First-Team nods, three Second-Team nods, and nine Pro Bowl appearances. That’s in addition to being part of the 2000’s All-Decade team.

The Cowboys legend had a 12-year career, playing nine in Dallas. During that time, he led the NFL in sacks twice and tackles for a loss three times. While he didn’t win a Super Bowl with the Cowboys, he joined the Denver Broncos for three seasons and got his ring there.

In the first round, Jerry Jones grabbed an impact defensive lineman, and then he found a gem in the seventh round. Jones drafted interior defensive lineman Jay Ratliff. It took him three seasons to become a starter, but he emerged as a big body in the trenches that took up space and applied pressure. He played eight of his 11 seasons in Dallas before joining the Chicago Bears. Ratliff earned his four Pro Bowls and one First-Team All-Pro nod all with the star on his helmet.

In the fourth round, the Cowboys drafted yet another defensive lineman. This time it was Chris Canty out of Virginia. The run-stuffing defensive end played out his rookie deal in Dallas before playing four seasons with the New York Giants and three with the Baltimore Ravens. Overshadowed running back Marion Barber was drafted in the fourth round before Canty. He ran behind Julius Jones for two seasons, started for three seasons, then got overtaken by Felix Jones. Despite that, he scored 10+ touchdowns twice and averaged 4.4+ yards per run three times.

First-rounder Michael Spears is more known for being on TV than his play on the field, but he still had some success. The LSU product was a run-stuffing defensive end that played his best football early in his career. He made 30+ tackles in his first four seasons but failed to reach that mark again.

Offensive tackle Rob Petitti got drafted in the sixth round and started for the Cowboys as a rookie. Unfortunately, he would start only one NFL game over the next five seasons. The last remaining player is Justin Beriault, who didn’t play a game in the NFL.

This model favors draft classes with multiple serviceable players, except for the 1990 draft class headlined by Emmitt Smith. They also favor smaller draft classes, excluding many talented groups during the 12-round drafts. Stay tuned as I make draft class rankings based on different formulas. Is there a class you’re surprised didn’t make the cut? Let me know in the comments section below, and I will tell you their score.

dark. Next. The 20 Best Draft Picks in Dallas Cowboys History