Dallas Cowboys draft class has uncomfortable similarities to its infamous class of 2017

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·4 min read
Amanda McCoy/amccoy@star-telegram.com
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The results from the 2022 NFL Draft are in, and the Dallas Cowboys ... no one has a clue.

Determining draft class winners/losers is almost as accurate as rating college football recruiting classes (looking at you, Texas. Don’t worry Texas A&M, you’re on the clock now, too).

Depending on what draft expert you prefer, the Dallas Cowboys owned the NFL Draft. Or, the Dallas Cowboys blew it.

The Sporting News gave the Dallas Cowboys an “A.”

“Dallas recognized the need to reload fast and stayed the course with its board,” Vinnie Iyer of TSN wrote.

Both The Washington Post and Sports Illustrated gave the Cowboys a “C+.”

“The Cowboys’ draft was fine, but seemed to do nothing to separate them from an NFC East field quickly gaining ground,” SI’s Connor Orr wrote. “This was a two-year window in which Dallas had the opportunity to step on the throat of a fledgling division.”

You are better off handicapping dog races rather than grading an NFL draft 24 hours after it ends.

“Nobody knows!” former Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells once told a few of us media members back when he was here, in 2006, about grading drafts.

Self-serving name drops aside, we won’t know for about three years. The hope is to hit on 50% of your picks.

What the class of 2022 cannot be is a repeat of the miss fest that was 2017, and the Cowboys desperately need a steal somewhere in rounds 5 through 7.

Dallas Cowboys class of 2017

If you want a reason, but not the only explanation, why the team is still slightly stuck, look back to explain the present.

They hit on the high picks, but need to find some winners in the later rounds.

In 2017, the team selected nine players, and only two are still with the team. That should be closer to four or five.

First round pick: Taco Charlton. He has been dumped on so often the joke is no longer funny. The Cowboys gave up on Charlton after his second season, and he has played for three teams since.

Second round: Chido Awuzie. The Cowboys gave up on him after his rookie contract expired, and he signed with the Bengals and was a starter for their team that reached the Super Bowl.

Third round: Jourdan Lewis. The corner is by far the best member of this class.

Fourth round: Ryan Switzer. Slot receiver, return man who played one season with the Cowboys before he was traded to the Raiders. He was traded again, this time to Pittsburgh where he played two seasons.

Sixth round: Xavier Woods. Because the Cowboys never invest in safety, they gave Woods every chance and he just couldn’t take it even though he was a starter. He played last season with the Vikings.

Sixth round: Marquez White. Corner out of Florida State never made it.

Seventh round: Joey Ivie. Florida defensive linemen who didn’t make the Cowboys and played eight NFL games.

Seventh round: Noah Brown. Ohio State receiver keeps barely making the team. He has 39 catches in five seasons.

Seventh round: Jordan Carrell. Defensive tackle from Colorado didn’t make it.

Cowboys need some luck in later rounds

In 2017, they picked nine players, five from rounds 6 and 7.

In 2022, they picked nine players, five from rounds 5 and 6.

The odds of finding real contributors from these later rounds are not good; you might get one. Maybe two.

With Will McClay assembling the board for the Cowboys since 2014, the team has run a boring, clean draft, with a dash of Jerry Jones.

McClay found Dak Prescott in the fourth round, the same for Tony Pollard and Dalton Schultz.

Even with the Cowboys adhering to a “clean” board, there is a reason why the team risked second round picks on defensive players like Randy Gregory and Jaylon Smith; that reason is the GM.

This most recent class is consistent with the Cowboys over the last 10 years; first round pick Tyler Smith out of North Crowley and Tulsa should be fine, provided he plays guard.

If Smith is forced to play tackle, this pick is a reach.

Second-round pick Samuel Degarrick Williams of Ole Miss is your standard Jerry pick; Williams is a former JUCO guy who has “character concerns.”

If a player, especially in football, has gone JUCO, there’s a reason. It’s not always a good one.

Williams was also accused of sexual battery in 2020, but the charges were dropped. Ole Miss people said once Williams became a dad later in ‘20, maturity followed.

The rest of the class is a case of fitting needs; they all have a chance because the Cowboys are awash in needs.

Despite the best effort of those assigning grades, we don’t have a clue and we won’t for another two years.

The Cowboys need three or four of these guys to hit, and 2022 cannot resemble in any way 2017.