With the 2013 NFL Draft looming, it is a good time to look back four years to the 2009 Dallas Cowboys draft. It usually takes about four years for a draft class to shake out so that it can be adequately analyzed.
The 2009 draft for the Cowboys was unique because, through a series of moves and maneuvers, they ended up with 12 picks. Granted, they were all second day picks, but they had a dozen of them, so you would think the blind hog finding an acorn rule would come into effect.
Not so fast.
The Original “Dirty Dozen”
Before we go on with the review of that class, let’s review the term “Dirty Dozen” as it relates to the Dallas Cowboys. Around the NFL, that term is applied to the 1975 draft class of the Tom Landry, Tex Schramm, Gil Brandt regime. Twelve rookies made the team that year: Randy White, Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson, Bob Breunig, Pat Donovan, Herbert Scott, Mitch Hoopes, Percy Howard, Randy Hughes, Scott Laidlaw, Burton Lawless, Kyle Davis, and Roland Woolsey.
That group included one future Hall of Famer and all-time NFL great Randy White. It included one of the best athletes to play the linebacker position to that point in NFL history in “Hollywood” Henderson. It included three very solid offensive linemen, two other solid linebackers, and a solid running back.
That group of rookies helped the Cowboys reach Super Bowl X.
Jerry’s Dirtier Dozen
The Dirty Dozen of the Jones regime is another story, entirely. While the 1975 draft is held up as representative of one of the best front offices of that era, the 2009 draft is representative of one of the worst. Jerry Jones sans Jimmy Johnson or Bill Parcells has been less than stellar when it comes to personnel evaluation. Just as the good personnel decisions of the 1970s and 1990s resulted in eight Super Bowl appearances and five Lombardi trophies, the poor personnel management of the 2000s has resulted in a middle-of-the-pack non-contender.
The 2009 draft is especially telling and has been especially detrimental to the development of this team. That class should be having a major impact on the team now. Instead, not one single member of the 2009 draft class remains. They are all gone!
Sure, it can be embarrassing for any analyst to look back at draft predictions, but I remember when I read this from Yahoo Sports writer Ryan DeVault for the first time:
The 2009 NFL Draft has brought a lot of excitement for teams, and especially for fans of the DallasCowboys. With no first round pick for the Dallas Cowboys, it left a lot up in the air for what the team would be able to attain in the 2009 draft, but some later picks could turn out to be diamonds in the rough if they can exceed expectations that draft analysts have placed upon them. The Dallas Cowboys draft picks include a nice outside linebacker and a good looking offensive tackle just to name a few, and as the draft nears its conclusion, the Cowboys have a few players that could make a difference in a couple of years.
Yeah. There was a lot of excitement surrounding that draft. I kind of missed on it, too. I remember writing on Facebook that I liked the picks of OT Robert Brewster and LB Jason Williams. Wrong and wrong.
The talking heads on the NFL Network saw Jason Williams as a reach when Jerry took him a round or two higher than he was projected to go…
They said his Pro Day probably jumped him three or four rounds. As it turns out, that Pro Day performance had little to do with his football acumen. His lack of production in college was more predictive of what was to come.
I wrote about the 2009 draft in March 2012. Here is what I said then:
If you remain unconvinced that Jerry Jones is lost as a GM, unless he has his hand held by an actual football man like Jimmy Johnson or Bill Parcells, I give you (drum roll, please) your Dallas Cowboys’ 2009 NFL Draft extravaganza.
You be the judge, the jury and the helpless fan.
Round by round, here we go…
Your Heroes had no pick. Jerry had already used it to acquire—wait for it!—wideout Roy Williams. Yes, that Roy Williams. The Lions used the Cowboys’ 20th pick on TE Brandon Pettigrew. Still on the board to be taken later in round one: Clay Matthews (Packers, 26th overall) and Hakeem Nicks (Giants, 29th overall).
I would give this a grade, but I do not want to insult teachers.
The Cowboys had the 19th pick and traded it to the Buffalo Bills for the number two third round picks and a fourth rounder. Let’s withhold judgment until we see how this turns out.
With the fifth pick (from the Browns), the cowboys take LB Jason Williams out of Western Illinois. In his first three years in the league, Williams has amassed an astounding 20 tackles. (Yes, my tongue was in my cheek there.) He has never worked his way into the starting lineup. He’s a bit player at best; a two-bit player at worst.
With the 11th pick of the third round (from the Bills), the Cowboys take OT Robert Brewster. If you do not know anything about him, don’t bother. He was hurt his rookie season and when he healed, they discovered he couldn’t play. He’s no longer with the team.
With the first pick in the fourth round (from the Lions), the Cowboys select QB Stephen McGee out of Texas A&M. McGee was a fabulous high school quarterback, a decent college quarterback on a team that had no real passing game, and has been—and shall forever remain—a backup at best in the NFL.
The 10th pick in the fourth round is spent on LB Victor Butler from Oregon State, because, in a three-four defense, you can never have too many quality linebackers. Butler is a quality backup linebacker. In three years, however, he has managed just 30 tackles and 15 assists. Not the worst mid-round pick ever, but not the man you want to hang your hat on as the best pick of your 2009 draft, which he probably is.
The Cowboys traded for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 20th pick in the fourth to snag DE/LB Brandon Williams—a brilliant move. (Again, facetious.) Williams recorded three tackles in 2010, then moved on to Arizona, where he did nothing at all.
The Cowboys traded with the Oakland Raiders to get the seventh pick in the fifth round. They saw something they liked in CB DeAngelo Smith, out of Cincinatti. DeAngelo ended up playing in Detroit in 2009, recording six tackles. That’s it. Nothing since.
With the 30th pick in round five, the Cowboys took FS Michael Hamlin. Hamlin made it through the ’09 season and part of 2010 before he was set free. His numbers were nil.
Number 36 in the fifth was spent on K David Buehler, the strong-footed, linebacker-looking kicker our of USC, whom the Cowboys cut yesterday. He was supposed to be for the purpose of kicking the ball too deep to return on kickoffs and for kicking the ridiculously long field goals. He was a luxury the Cowboys could not afford. And he was not that luxurious anyway.
In this round, the Cowboys picked up SS Stephen Hodge,TCU, and TE John Phillips, Virginia. Hodge is another bust. John Phillips has proved himself a player, especially in the blocking game. He has shown potential as a receiver, as well. That’s good, because the second round pick from the 2008 draft, Martellus “Marty B” Bennett, another colossal bust, is likely on his way out.
Here, the Cowboys picked up CB Mike Mickens from Cincinatti and WR Manuel Johnson from Oklahoma. For some reason, the Cowboys were completely enamored with the Cincinatti Bearcats’ backfield. They took two players from that unit. One has worked out about as well as the other. If you don’t remember Mickens or Johnson, it is likely because you are not family or a close personal friend to either of them.
I would offer insightful commentary on the lost draft of 2009. I would mention how a team cannot afford to just skip entire years of drafting and developing quality players. I would talk about Jerry Jones and company and how overmatched they are in the NFL.
But the facts do not need me. They speak for themselves.
So, there you go. Four years removed and not one single member of the 2009 draft class remains with the team. Not one single member had a meaningful impact on the team.
Blame Tony Romo and Jason Garrett for back-to-back 8-8 campaigns all you want. Just remember, as you deal with that bad tast in your mouth, they didn’t buy the groceries. Jerry did.
Here is hoping that Garrett will positively influence Jones and the 2013 draft will bring a harvest of players that will positiviely impact the team this year and in the years to come.
Hope springs eternal…especially in the Spring. And more especially during the NFL Draft. The debacle of 2009 notwithstanding, I am ready for draft day 2013.