Thomas (26th), Charles Young (22nd), Billy Joe DuPree (20th), Thomas Henderson (18th), Aaron Kyle (27th), Larry Bethea (28th), Robert Shaw (27th), Howard Richards (26th), Rod Hill (26th), Jim Jeffcoat (23rd), Billy Cannon (25th), Kevin Brooks (17th), Mike Sherrod (18th), Emmitt Smith (17th), Robert Jones (24th), Kevin Smith (17th), Shante Carver (23rd), David LaFleur (22nd), Ebenezer Ekuban (20th) and Marcus Spears (20th).
The best of the group? No-brainer, of course, Emmitt Smith. Then after that, guys who made their mark in the league with the Cowboys would include Kevin Smith, Jeffcoat, DuPree and Hill. Now I'll leave it up to you to decide on the validity of Duane Thomas and Henderson, who flamed out for reasons other than talent, and also Sherrod, who just never could stay healthy. And obviously, the jury still is out on Spears.
But the rest, generally yuk, although Bethea got in six years, just don't know how distinguished. Sure wouldn't give ya a wooden nickel for the likes of Carver, Jones, Brooks, Richards, Bill Thomas, Young, Toby Smith and Rod Hill.
And as for the nine non-first-rounders to become the Cowboys' first picks in a draft, well, Julius Jones, in two years, might be the best of the bunch, although Kevin Williams sure served his purpose here as a third receiver and return guy. The rest? Please.
So capeesh? High first, good. Low first, not so good. No first, get outta here. Pretty simple.
That then, with obvious trepidation, brings us to Saturday, when the Cowboys have the - oh no - 18th pick in the first round. The good news is, two of the five players distinguishing themselves among those drafted after the 15th pick in the first round - Emmitt Smith and Kevin Smith - were drafted with 17th picks. So that's close.
The bad news is, the only two times in club history the Cowboys actually picked at 18, they ended up with Sherrod, whose career was cut short by injuries, and Henderson, whose career was strangled by drugs.
Maybe as bad, had I drawn the line of demarcation at 17, then the Cowboys would have produced only two high-profile players, Hill and DuPree, with picks after that. Scary, huh?
Want two more scary nuggets? The Cowboys almost didn't even get Kevin Smith, having traded down in the first round and then forced to trade back up to 17 to select the Texas A&M cornerback.
And as for the other Smith, one Emmitt J. III, he wasn't even a twinkle in Jimmy Johnson's eye heading into the draft. Jimmy wanted James Francis, the linebacker from Baylor, but couldn't trade up high enough from the 21st pick to get ahead of Cincinnati. Undaunted after the Bengals grabbed Francis, Johnson then tried to trade directly with Cincy to acquire Francis. And when that didn't work, Johnson tried to get up high enough to grab linebacker Lamar Lathon before Houston did at 15.
Only after that exhausting exercise did Emmitt Smith sound like a good idea to Johnson, who traded a third-rounder to Pittsburgh to for the 17th pick and right to select Emmitt Smith. Good thing, too, because Green Bay had the next two picks, deciding to take running back Darrell Thompson with the 19th, and Atlanta took running back Steve Broussard with the 20th.
Chances are, Emmitt Smith would have been long gone by 21, where Johnson later admitted he would have taken running back Rodney Hampton, the very guy Parcells took at 24, if that were the case.
Only further underscoring what a crapshoot this draft business is when you get past the first 12 to 15 picks.
So moral of this story: When drafting after 15, don't try to out-slick the competition with some fancy pick. Do not ever draft for need. Don't minimize previous injuries or character issues just because the guy is a talent-steal at that spot. And be very, very careful dropping out of the first round.
Now, armed with all this good research, history and advice, and knowing the Cowboys' odds aren't with you, go pick a 10-year, five-time Pro Bowl starter.
| Now remember, this draft isn't all
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