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Mailbag: Is draft-and-develop rep a myth?


An often repeated statement is the Cowboys draft really well and like to re-sign their own. Is that accurate? I looked at all of their draft picks from 2014-23 and very few of those who actually made the team received a second contract. The 2015 and 2018 classes do not have a single player remaining. There is one player left from each of the 2017 and 2019 classes. None of the first or second round picks from 2015-19 are with the team. Is this draft-and-develop reputation a myth? – William Goehring/Brevard, NC

Patrik: No, it's not a myth, but context is required here. For example, when you view it from the angle of how many draft picks were awarded a second contract, consider free agency is a two-way street and the Cowboys have long been been disinterested in winning bidding wars, even if it's for a player they drafted and developed. I'd also say compare their hit-miss ratio to that of every other team in the league over that same timespan, and you'll quickly see that Dallas is one of the best in the league with that batting average, and when they hit, they often hit big and sometimes out of nowhere (e.g., DaRon Bland, Donovan Wilson); and sometimes when the pick is predicted to be a whiff but instead becomes an All-Pro (e.g., Tyler Smith). Have they always won the draft? No, but what team has? Their 2023 draft class has an extreme uphill battle, but the 2022 class flew out of the gate — so let's see what a pressure-packed 2024 draft class can do. But, again, look around the league and you'll quickly get the picture.

Nick Harris: I don't believe so. When you take the number of players on the team that were draft picks/rookie acquisitions, the number is among the top in the league in retaining and developing talent. Look at the top of the roster and who has provided the most in recent years: Micah Parsons, DaRon Bland, Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb, Zack Martin, Tyler Smith, DeMarcus Lawrence…I could go on. Very few teams can rattle off that many draft picks at the top of the roster before getting to a free agent acquisition. That is where the developing comes into play. It's less about how many are on the team and more about the talent at the top that are draft picks of the Cowboys.

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