In recent years, the Dallas Cowboys have done a remarkable job in the early rounds of the NFL Draft. But how have they fared in the middle and late rounds?
Here’s a list of the Cowboys 1st and 2nd round selections in the previous five NFL Drafts:
- Tyler Smith: started 17 games as a rookie, bright future ahead at LT
- Sam Williams: four sacks, 22 tackles and seven tackles for loss as a rookie
- Micah Parsons: 26.5 sacks in two seasons, perennial All-Pro and Pro Bowler
- Kelvin Joseph: struggled at CB, took on a special teams role in 2022
- CeeDee Lamb: 3,396 receiving yards in three seasons, certified WR1
- Trevon Diggs: 17 interceptions in two seasons, two-time Pro Bowler
- Trysten Hill: no notable contributions, traded in 2022
- Leighton Vander Esch: 439 tackles in five seasons, undoubted starter when healthy
- Connor Williams: started 51 games in four seasons, signed elsewhere last offseason
The only two players on this list who haven’t worked out are Joseph and Hill. That’s an impressive hit rate. But let’s see how the Cowboys have drafted in the later rounds in the last five years.
3rd Round Success Rate Is Also High
The highlight of Dallas’ 3rd rounders is Michael Gallup in 2018. He started just eight games as a rookie and still amassed 507 yards. In year two, he set a career-high with 1,107 yards and six touchdowns. Gallup has been slowed down by injury in the last two seasons, but there’s reason to believe he can return to form in 2023.
Connor McGovern was another diamond in the rough when drafted in 2019. He didn’t see the field that year, making his NFL debut in 2020. He started a career-high 15 games at LG for Dallas last season, but signed with the Buffalo Bills in free agency.
The only other notable 3rd rounder is Osa Odighizuwa. Drafted in 2021, the DT has started 29 total games, recording six sacks, 79 tackles and 14 tackles for loss.
Some 3rd rounders that haven’t blossomed yet include Jalen Tolbert, Nahshon Wright, Chauncey Gholston and Neville Gallimore. But all things considered, this is another round of the NFL Draft Dallas has done well in.
4th Round Provided A Gem
The Cowboys hit a homerun by selecting Tony Pollard in round 4 in 2019. He’s a dual-threat RB and his stats as a rusher and receiver have grown with each passing season. Pollard is set to play on the franchise tag in 2023, assuming a role as RB1 with Ezekiel Elliott gone.
Dorance Armstrong started last year hot, but cooled off by mid-season. But Armstrong still posted a career-high 8.5 sacks. In five seasons, he’s got 16 sacks, 131 tackles and 36 QB hits.
Jake Ferguson didn’t post gaudy numbers last season – 19 catches for 174 yards and two touchdowns. But Dallas let Dalton Schultz walk in free agency, handing the TE1 role to Ferguson in 2023.
Players that didn’t/haven’t panned out include Josh Ball, Jabril Cox and Reggie Robinson. But hitting on Pollard makes the 4th round a success for Dallas.
A Few Stars In Round 5
It’s natural for the draft prospect hit rate to dip as you review each passing round. But the Cowboys found a pair of potential long-term starters in 2022.
The first is DaRon Bland, who was forced into a starting role by injuries at CB. In just eight starts, Bland had five interceptions, seven passes defended and 54 tackles. He promises to be an impact player once again in 2023.
The other is Damone Clark, who underwent spinal transfusion surgery ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft. He was expected to miss all of last season. Instead, he started five games, played in 10 and had 47 tackles and two forced fumbles.
One interesting Cowboys 5th rounder came in 2018 when the ‘Boys selected Mike White. That’s the same Mike White who started some games with the New York Jets in 2021 and 2022. He never played a snap for Dallas and is now with the Miami Dolphins.
The jury is still out on Matt Waletzko and Simi Fehoko, and things never worked out with Bradlee Anae, Michael Jackson and Joe Jackson. If not for the recent drafting of Bland and Clark, round 5 would be a bit of a disaster for the Cowboys.
Many 6th Rounders Still In Big D
Interestingly, four of the Cowboys last six 6th round selections are still with the team. Not bad for such a late round.
The star of the bunch is Donovan Wilson. He started just 13 total games from 2019 to 2021. Then last season, he popped off with 17 starts and 101 tackles; the second-most on the team. This offseason, Dallas rewarded those efforts with a three year, $24 million contract.
The next best player was Cedrick Wilson, who had 602 receiving yards and six touchdowns in 2021 – solid for a 6th rounder. But last offseason he signed with Miami.
Israel Mukuamu carved out a role on special teams last year. Quinton Bohanna and Devin Harper still have to prove themselves, and Chris Covington was released after two seasons.
The Wilson pick saves the day for the Cowboys in round 6.
No Luck In 7th Round
There’s no shame in failing to hit on a 7th round pick, most teams do. The best player that Cowboys have taken is Matt Farniok, who has played in 19 games in two seasons. That alone is a win for any 7th round selection.
But the most famous player is Ben DiNucci, who started a game in the Cowboys disastrous 2020 season when Dak Prescott missed extended time. DiNucci is no longer in Dallas, but you can still watch him play for the Seattle Sea Dragons of the XFL.
The Cowboys swung and missed on Bo Scarbrough and Jalen Jelks.