The Dallas Cowboys have located unique and special talents throughout recent National Football League draft classes. Dallas built up the best overall offensive line in the NFL today, and that line made life easier for young playmakers such as quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott during the 2016 campaign when the Cowboys won the NFC East and came to within a couple of games of playing in the Super Bowl. Don't forget about Dez Bryant, the dynamic wide receiver the Cowboys acquired in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Bryant has been a polarizing figure, at times, because of his antics during games, but there's no denying he is one of the best receivers in the NFL and one of Dallas' top draft selections of the decade.
Not every Dallas draft class is remembered fondly by diehard followers of “America's Team,” as franchise owner, president and general manager Jerry Jones has been guilty of numerous draft miscues over the years. Jones and the Cowboys whiffed attempting to land a franchise quarterback in the early 2000s, the club took fliers on multiple pass-rushers who proved to be disappointments and the franchise failed to adequately rebuild after winning titles in the 1990s. Looking back at the team's draft classes since the mid-90s, it's understandable Dallas hasn't played in a single Super Bowl contest since being the team of that decade. The future admittedly looks bright for the Cowboys heading into the summer of 2017, but Dallas could be only a couple of embarrassing draft picks away from falling back down the division standings.
15 Quincy Carter: Pick No. 53, 2001 NFL Draft
At the time the Cowboys selected QB Quincy Carter in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft, plenty of analysts and fans out there criticized the club, specifically Jerry Jones, about reaching for a QB who probably wasn't going to replace all-time Dallas great Troy Aikman. Carter flashed some promise during his rookie season, and he ultimately led the Cowboys to a postseason appearance during his third year with the team.
14 Anthony Fasano: Pick No. 53, 2006 NFL Draft
Maybe the Cowboys should think about moving on from pick number 53 whenever they land that selection in future drafts. Dallas already had All-Pro tight end Jason Witten when the club grabbed TE Anthony Fasano in 2006, and Fasano started only ten games in two seasons before the Cowboys moved on.
13 Danny Noonan: Pick No. 12, 1987 NFL Draft
The Cowboys earned quite the reputation for landing draft busts during the 1980s, and defensive lineman Danny Noonan checks in as one from the second half of that decade. The hope, at the time, was that Noonan would become the cornerstone of a defensive line that needed to be rebuilt, and he made 71 appearances and accumulated 15 sacks across six seasons with the club.
12 Randy Gregory: Pick No. 60, 2015 NFL Draft
The hope here is that defensive end Randy Gregory will conquer whatever demons are plaguing him as of the spring of 2017. Gregory had a decent, although somewhat quiet, rookie season with the Cowboys, but he was handed a four-game suspension in February 2016 after he reportedly violated the NFL's substance abuse policy.
11 Robert Brewster: Pick No. 75, 2009 NFL Draft
The Cowboys used no first- or second-round picks during the 2009 NFL Draft, but that doesn't mean the club's first selection from this year doesn't belong on a list of picks the team should be embarrassed about today.
10 Sherman Williams: Pick No. 46, 1995 NFL Draft
The Cowboys should have been the class of the NFL and a team capable of dominating the league for the majority of the 1990s, but they dropped off quicker than expected, in part, because of poor drafting.
9 Kavika Pittman: Pick No. 37, 1996 NFL Draft
We stay in the 1990s for an example of another pick that, more so, set the Cowboys back than helped the team pursue a title. Dallas traded out of the first round before selecting defensive end Kavika Pittman with pick number 37 of the 1996 NFL Draft, and the club hoped the pass-rusher would evolve into a solid value selection capable of getting to quarterbacks during games.
8 Julius Jones: Pick No. 43, 2004 NFL Draft
In need of a running back during the spring of 2004, the Cowboys could've selected Steven Jackson had they remained in the first round of that draft. Dallas instead traded down, and the club then settled on Julius Jones in the second round.
7 Morris Claiborne: Pick No. 6, 2012 NFL Draft
One could say Morris Claiborne is the top pick the Cowboys should still be embarrassed about because of when the team selected him. Claiborne was the sixth overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, and the cornerback is now one of the biggest draft busts in team history.
6 Ebenezer Ekuban: Pick No. 20, 1999 NFL Draft
Sometimes a pick just doesn't work out for one reason or another, and that was the case for the Cowboys when the team selected pass-rusher Ebenezer Ekuban in the first round of the 1999 NFL Draft.
5 Felix Jones: Pick No. 22, 2008 NFL Draft
Enjoy watching Ezekiel Elliott while you can, Dallas fans, because the Cowboys haven't always landed top-tier running backs in drafts. Dallas selected Felix Jones in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft to pair him up with Marion Barber III, and Jones managed to average 5.9 yards per carry during his second season in the Dallas backfield.
4 David LaFleur: Pick No. 22, 1997 NFL Draft
You cannot have a piece about draft mistakes made by the Dallas Cowboys without mentioning David LaFleur. The tight end picked in the first round of the 1997 NFL Draft turned out to be one of several regrettable selections during the second part of the decade, as he failed to flourish at a position once dominated by the great Jay Novacek.
3 Dwayne Goodrich: Pick No. 49, 2000 NFL Draft
As explained in a SportsDayDFW.com piece, Dallas' entire 2000 NFL Draft class was a failure, as every player chosen by the club that year was no longer with the franchise by 2004.
2 Shante Carver: Pick No. 23, 1994 NFL Draft
Defensive end Shante Carver was on the Dallas roster that won Super Bowl XXX, but it's safe to assume the club probably would've preferred having Isaac Bruce or even Rodney Harrison ahead of Carver.
1 Bobby Carpenter: Pick No. 18, 2006 NFL Draft
Odds are the Cowboys are probably still a bit embarrassed about this draft mistake. Dallas selected linebacker Bobby Carpenter in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft, and Carpenter did little other than disappoint the franchise until the team traded him to the St. Louis Rams in the spring of 2010.
His lasting legacy as a member of the Cowboys will be members of the Dallas team believing he was soft, and also one of his teammates giving him the nickname “Barbie Carpenter” during an edition of the television show Hard Knocks. Antonio Cromartie, Tamba Hali, Nick Mangold, D'Qwell Jackson and Devin Hester are only a handful of the many recognizable names drafted after Carpenter. Looking back, we don't blame the Cowboys for wanting a re-do on this one.
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