Let me preface this column by agreeing that we can indeed complain about Jason Garrett’s head coaching ability, his offensive play-calling and his in game decision making among other things but, the guy can evaluate talent especially players coming out of the draft. Here is an in depth look at the drafts 2 years prior to him being named head coach and the 2 years since he was given one of the most riveting jobs in America.
It is obvious Jerry Jones listens to Garrett’s insight on other major decisions such as the recent coaching changes. “He did the evaluations,” Jones said. “He basically said, ‘Jerry here’s who I want to get.’” If Jones listens to Garrett about his staff, we would all be ignorant not to believe Garrett makes the calls on draft day as well. Especially with the way the drafts have gone in the recent past.
In 2009 when the soft, tenderhearted Wade Phillips was head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, I guarantee Jerry Jones had the final say in every and all decisions in that “war room”. Yes, Jerry’s son, Stephen Jones plays a part in decisions but Jerry is the say all end all, that is until Garrett became head coach.
The Cowboys had 12 draft picks in 2009, yes TWELVE. They had two 3rd round picks, three 4th round picks, three 5th round picks, two 6th round picks and two 7th round picks. You want to know how many of those 12 are on the Cowboys roster as of March12? NONE! That’s right out of 12 draft picks your Cowboys, I’m sorry our Cowboys, missed on every one of them. John Phillips and Victor Butler are the only two of those 12 that were still on the roster last season but they are both UFA’s and I don’t expect Phillips to be back with the emergence of James Hannah. Counting Phillips and Butler five of the 12 still play in the NFL.
Let me tell you folks those are NOT very good numbers at all!
Let’s move on to 2010 when the Cowboys started 1-7 and Phillips was fired halfway through the season. The draft of 2010 is in April though, that’s well before Garrett took over for Phillips. Jerry was still pulling the strings. The Cowboys had only 6 draft picks in 2010, they did remarkably better, heck 3 out of the 6 are still on the active roster with two of those being Dez Bryant and Sean Lee. They are both absolute beasts, I definitely agree with that. The other player still playing was the Cowboys 7th round pick, Sean Lissemore. Out of the other three players drafted only one is still in the NFL. Sam Young is rostered on the bills, but I’m not sure that’s saying much.
Garrett took over halfway through that average 2010 season and was in the draft room for the 2011 draft which was a good one for the Cowboys. They had 8 picks in the 2011 NFL Draft. With Garrett in Jerry’s ear the Cowboys drafted better; four of the eight were important Cowboys pieces just last year. Those four are Tyron Smith, Bruce Carter, DeMarco Murray and Dwayne Harris. David Arkin is also still on the Cowboys roster and if he could stay healthy he too would be an important piece. That’s five of the eight still on the roster, the three that aren’t? Josh Thomas, Shaun Chapas and Bill Nagy. Nagy is on the Lions and played in 4 games last year. Chapas, a fullback, is also on the Lions and had 2 catches last year. Josh Thomas is on the Panthers and plays regularly. That means that every player Garrett drafted in 2011 is still in the NFL playing for somebody. Eight out of eight is a heck of a lot better than 0 for 12.
In the 2012 draft, the Cowboys had the normal amount of picks (seven). Morris Claiborne (1st round), Tyrone Crawford (3rd round) and James Hannah (6th round) all played roles on the Cowboys just last season. Kyle Wilber, their 4th round pick, also played a little bit last year and is in contention for the third linebacker spot in the Cowboys move to the 4-3 defensive scheme under Monte Kiffin. Danny Coale a 5th round selection didn’t make it off the practice squad last year. Matt Johnson, the other 4th round pick, was hurt last year but it is speculated that he will have a good shot to take over at safety next season, especially after Gerald Sensabaugh was cut. Caleb McSurdy their 7th round pick didn’t make it on the field in the regular season last year. That means three players made an immediate impact last year and two or three more could make one next season.
Garrett’s ability to evaluate talent is much better than Jones’, obviously. With Garrett calling the shots in the draft room, the Cowboys have a shot to win games. Whether or not they have a shot with him on the sidelines is a topic for a different day. The 2013 draft can be a promising one with Garrett, as long as Jones doesn’t let his ego get in the way.