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The Dallas Cowboys are going to be on the clock with at least nine selections in the 2022 NFL draft. Trades can alter the total, but for now the Cowboys have nine chances to fill the holes on their roster and improve off a 12-5 season. That means the Cowboys have ample opportunities to find players who can alter future years with the franchise. Dallas has three top-100 picks, which is where teams usually get their best players, and a majority of their starters.
However, teams aren’t made up of just first, second, or third round draft picks. Finding contributing players throughout the seven rounds is a key to building a championship roster. The later rounds are where teams can find depth and if the Cowboys can hit on these picks, it’s a huge benefit since they rely on the draft to restock each offseason.
Over the past 10 seasons, the Cowboys have found quality players late in the draft to benefit the team. It’s a testament to the scouts and talent evaluators who continue to thrive in finding hidden gems past the early rounds. Here are five of the team’s best picks from rounds four and later that have gone on to become big contributors in Dallas.
Dak Prescott (4th Round - 135th overall): 2016
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
This is easily the best Day-3 pick from the franchise in the last 10 seasons and is in consideration for the best mid-round pick ever for the Cowboys. Prescott has blossomed into one of the best quarterbacks in the team’s history and is now one of the best QBs in the league.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) April 22, 2022
Prescott was thrust into the spotlight as a rookie and has never looked back. During his six seasons in the league, Prescott has been named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and is a two-time Pro Bowl QB. In 2021, Prescott broke the franchise record for touchdown passes in a season with 37.
He’s a leader on and off the field and Dallas was fortunate to land Prescott as late as they did in the 2016 draft.
Anthony Brown (6th Round – 189th overall): 2016
(AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
In the same draft the Cowboys scored Prescott, they drafted Brown in the sixth. Brown hasn’t ever been considered the best cornerback in the game, nor has he made a Pro Bowl, but he’s been a solid player for the past six seasons.
Brown carved out an immediate role early on as a slot CB and grew into a starter for the defense over the course of two coordinators. Last season was Brown’s best in Dallas, he had a career-high in tackles (71), passes defensed (17) and interceptions (3), one of which he returned for his first touchdown.
Sixth-round picks rarely stick on a roster, let alone get a second contract, but Brown has exceeded expectations with the Cowboys. At just 28-years old, Brown still has more to contribute with Dallas.
Tony Pollard (4th Round – 128th overall): 2019
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Pollard was drafted to be a return specialist and a change of pace running back to spell starter Ezekiel Elliott. The Cowboys have gotten that and more.
Pollard has become a starting caliber back, who is one of the more explosive runners in the league. When he’s gotten the opportunity, Pollard has excelled.
Pollard has averaged 5.1 yards a carry throughout his career and totaled 10 scores in his first three seasons. The Cowboys’ offense, and running game, has arguably been just as good or better with Pollard running the ball since he’s entered the league.
Tony Pollard appreciation post 🙌
What stands out the MOST? 🧐 pic.twitter.com/NMZmIpb02f
— The Game Day NFL (@TheGameDayNFL) April 21, 2022
Elliott and Pollard make up perhaps the best RB tandem in the NFL and Pollard has found a role as a legitimate option in the running game. Pollard is not just Elliott’s backup, but a viable, valuable option on the Cowboys’ offense.
Dalton Schultz (4th Round – 137th overall): 2018
(AP Photo/Brandon Wade)
The Cowboys needed a tight end after Jason Witten’s abrupt – and brief – retirement. Schultz was a helping hand at the time but has turned into a starting TE whom the team franchised this offseason.
Schultz has gotten better and better each year in Dallas, leading to his breakout season in 2021, catching 78 passes for 808 yards and eight scores. Ranking second on the Cowboys in receptions, third in yards and tied for the lead in touchdown receptions, Schultz became one of Prescott’s most reliable, and favorite, options in the passing game.
The Cowboys have turned to Schultz as the leader in the TE room and placed the franchise tag on him as a placeholder for a possible long-term deal. That’s a great return for a fourth-round selection.
Anthony Hitchens (4th Round – 119th overall): 2014
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Hitchens was drafted to help a linebacker unit that needed it in 2014 and was thrust into a bigger role before his rookie year began. Sean Lee’s torn ACL in OTAs led Hitchens starting 11 games as a rookie and finishing third on the team in tackles. Hitchens’ first year will be remembered for the pass interference that was taken away in the playoff win over the Detroit Lions.
Over the course of four seasons with the Cowboys, Hitchens was in the top five in tackles each season, among the top three for three years, and was one of the better defenders on the defense.
The Cowboys allowed Hitchens to leave after the 2017 season, and he went on to be a starter and win a Super Bowl with the Kansas City Chiefs. Hitchens is the only name on this list who didn’t get a second contract in Dallas.
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