With the NFL Draft coming up soon, in just 38 days but who’s counting, there is a natural instinct to go back and look over your favorite teams last few drafts. For Dallas Cowboys fans, the 2009 draft seems to be the favorite target for their lack of depth on the roster but please don’t forget the disaster the Cowboys turned out in 2008 either.
In the 2008 draft, the Cowboys had two first round picks after trading with the Cleveland Browns the year prior, leaving the Cowboys in good shape coming off of a 13-3 season. Instead of solidifying a team for a consistent run at an NFL title, the Cowboys never got the productivity needed from what was considered a promising draft class.
The Cowboys first pick that year was running back Felix Jones. Dallas’ reasoning for selecting Jones was that they already had their starting running back in Marion Barber and they needed a speed runner to compliment to his punishing running style. Forget the fact that the Cowboys drafted a back-up running back in the first round, think about who they passed on to choose Jones; Rashard Mendenhall, Chris Johnson, Matt Forte, Ray Rice and Jamaal Charles were all still on the board. How bad does that decision look now? Every one of those players has been more productive than Jones.
Jones’ time as a Cowboy is over since the team has shown no signs of wanting him back, just like the signs pointing to the ousting of fellow first-round pick Mike Jenkins. Selected just three picks later, Jenkins did have a decent career in Dallas, earning one Pro Bowl trip in 2009 but failing to meet lofty expectations. Jenkins has been tough and fought through injuries but the team replaced him with a high priced free agent and rookie last season.
Then there was the Cowboys second-round draft pick in 2008, Martellus Bennett. Bennett was another player who showed signs of being a good player, only to disappear in his later years with the Cowboys. Bennett caught 280 yards worth of passes and four touchdowns his rookie year, but he never repeated those numbers. Actually, Bennett never caught another touchdown in his next three seasons in Dallas and even though Bennett was a great blocker for the Cowboys, he wasn’t drafted just to block. In the end, Bennett was known more for Marty B TV and being a disappointment on the field, than he was for anything else in Dallas.
The Cowboys drafted Tashard Choice in the fourth round of the 2008 draft and even though he showed flashes of being a good running back, he could never sustain his play. Injuries and inconsistency eventually caught up with Choice and he lasted only three seasons with the Cowboys.
Orlando Scandrick has turned out to be the gem of the Cowboys draft that year because he’s the only player still on the Cowboys and the only player who has received a second contract from the team. While not a star and probably overpaid, Scandrick plays an important role on the Cowboys defense as a slot cornerback. He was much better than Jenkins in their rookie years and has since earned more playing time than his teammate who will won’t be back with the team this season.
Dallas also drafted an edge pass rusher by the name of Eric Walden in the sixth round to fill out their 2008 draft class. He never made the team and was in the final cuts of training camp and bounced around from a few teams before landing with the Green Bay Packers in 2010, where he helped win the Packers a Super Bowl in Jerry Jones‘ Cowboys Stadium. Far from a star, Walden did have potential and has just landed himself a nice contract with the Indianapolis Colts at the start of free agency this offseason.
There you have it, the list of Cowboys draft picks in 2008. Five years later, just one Pro Bowl player among the group and only one player still on the roster. So while it’s obvious to point to the 2009 disaster of a draft to understand why the Cowboys are in this mess and void of depth throughout the roster, just remember the 2008 draft class was no prize either.
Back-to-back bad draft classes doomed this Cowboys team and now we’re seeing just how bad it was. No team can survive terrible draft classes anymore; especially one’s owned and general managed by Jerry Jones.