Taylor Williams

Ranking The Cowboys Top Draft Picks Of The Last Decade

Created on Apr. 10, 2013 10:35 PM EST

The 2013 NFL offseason has been an uncharacteristically slow and unglamorous period for the Cowboys. But, if nothing else, the many contract restructurings have confirmed that management and fans are largely on the same page in terms of addressing certain positions.

The Cowboys closed an otherwise uneventful month by finagling enough cap room to sign LB Justin Durant and S Will Allen. Wedged in among endless reports about Tony Romo’s impending extension, the signings, while consummated on precious little money, represented a show of front-office good faith. But everyone in Big D knows the draft is the last real chance to inject some touted names with malleable talent into the roster.

In terms of drafting, the last decade has hardly compared to the pinnacle of personnel prescience achieved in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. But since the woeful swap of draft picks for Detroit Lions’ WR Roy Williams in 2009, Dallas has landed respectable, franchise-able players with its last three first-round selections.

Here’s how they rank among the other first-rounders of the last 10 years.

DeMarcus Ware, Linebacker, 2005

Six consecutive seasons in the Top 10 in sacks, including two stints as the champion in 2008 and 2010. As far as rankings go, this one’s not even close.

Dez Bryant, Wide Receiver, 2010

It took three seasons, but the former Oklahoma State star is now an indisputably legitimate NFL star. A fast, physical target that’s as threatening on the post as he is on the quick slant, Dez Bryant’s numeric designation, No. 88, is only too fitting.

Terence Newman, Cornerback, 2003

Terrence Newman’s blazing speed and ball-hawking cover skills made him the steadiest contributor and most familiar face among defensive backs of the mid- and late-2000s. He ultimately finished with 33 picks in 133 games as a Cowboy.

Anthony Spencer, Defensive End, 2007

Boasting a double-digit sack season and two franchise tags, Anthony Spencer has matured, seemingly overnight, from a modest pass rusher into a ferocious force. He's an expensive asset, but one who appears to be accurately valued.

Morris Claiborne, Cornerback, 2012

The speedster from LSU had just one pick in his rookie season, but was only targeted on seven percent of his snaps—Morris Claiborne will pay off. He’s an efficient open-field tackler with exceptional ball skills who just needs a little more experience.

Marcus Spears, Defensive End, 2005

Marcus Spears was a competent and dependable reserve for six years before he inked a five-year, $19 million starter-worthy contract. His tackles dipped in subsequent seasons, but his release has only magnified the lack of quality depth along the defensive line.

Roy Williams, Safety, 2002

Despite earning five Pro Bowl selections from 2003 to 2007, the Oklahoma product was frequently maligned for poor cover skills that translated to inadequate free safety help. But man, could he lay a guy out.

Mike Jenkins, CB, 2008

Mike Jenkins was called on as the starting nickel corner between 2009 and 2010, netting a respectable six interceptions and 96 tackles, but never became a household favorite. A free agent at 28, Jenkins could still be a boost to a needy secondary.

Felix Jones, Running Back, 2008

It might have been a different story if he stayed healthy earlier in his career with the Cowboys, but he played in every game in 2012 and still warranted only 111 carries. Consequently, he’s not the only member of his class testing the market.

Bobby Carpenter, Linebacker, 2006

He never became a starter as a Cowboy. In three of those seasons he had fewer than 20 tackles and, in two of them, he didn’t record a sack. After four seasons in Dallas, Carpenter hasn’t gone more than a year without being relocated.