Top 5 Worst First Round Draft Picks for the Cowboys

bobby_carpenter_interception_cowboys_week_4_2011Today by coin toss, Dallas secured the 16th pick of the 2014 draft. As the draft approaches, a look back at 5 first round picks that didn’t work out for the Dallas Cowboys. In some years, the Cowboys did not have a first round pick so I only focus on players actually picked in the first round. I count down to the number one proverbial “bust pick”. I also look for lessons to be learned from the picks. But let’s face it, no team gets them right every time.

Spoiler alert– Not all of these bust picks can be blamed on GM Jerry Jones. On the other hand, he isn’t finished yet.

5. Bill Thomas- Running Back drafted 26th in 1972 draft
The idea was to replace RB Duane Thomas but a shoulder injury from college play, prevented Bill Thomas to ever get going. He only touched the ball twice that season returning kick offs. In 1973, Dallas cut him before the season due to his injury.

Draft Lesson– Be cautious using a first round pick on a player that suffered a major injury in college. I believe in drafting healthy players in at least the first 3 rounds.

4. Rod Hill- Corner back drafted 25th in 1982 draft
Prior to the arrival of Jimmy Johnson as coach in 1989, the Dallas Cowboys had some dreadful teams during the 1980’s so it goes to figure that they had some missed draft picks. Hill was drafted to play as a nickel cornerback and as a kick returner on special teams. Neither duty worked out for him.

Hill muffed a punt at the goal line against the Redskins in a playoff game which probably sealed his fate as a Cowboy. After being cut, he bounced among three NFL teams.

Draft Lesson– Hill was primarily drafted because of his athletic ability. A great athlete does not always translate to a good football player. In other words, don’t get too carried away at the combine.

3. Billy Cannon Jr.- Linebacker drafted 25th in the 1984 draft.
The poor picks of the 80s continued with the pick of Billy Cannon Jr. who was the son of a Heisman Trophy winning star running back. Cannon Jr. played 8 games when he suffered a severe neck injury making a tackle against the Saints in Texas Stadium. It proved to be a career ending injury and he went on to sue the Cowboys claiming he told the staff of numbness experienced while tackling before the injury occurred.

Draft Lesson-Tough to see this kind of injury coming but be careful drafting players because of a strong blood line. He came from a long line of great athletes but it did not guarantee success. This lesson pops up again later and again it involves a linebacker who had a famous running back father.

2. Shante Carver- defensive end drafted 23 in the 1994 draft.
After parting ways in March 1994, this would be Jerry Jones first attempt at a draft without Jimmy Johnson who proved to be excellent at evaluating college players. Jerry however wasn’t so good at it and he wasted no time demonstrating his ineptitude. Jerry would also demonstrate his uncanny ability to not only pick a bust, but also one who had character issues too.

Carver was injured most of his rookie season and when he got the opportunity to play in 1995, he wasn’t very productive. In 1996 he was suspended for violating the league’s anti drug policy. In his rookie season after an automobile accident, he abandoned the vehicle and reported it stolen. Can that Jerry pick ’em or what?

In 1997, Carver had 6 sacks but was cut at the end of the season. He went on to play in the arena football league for the Dallas Desperados.

Draft Lesson– Don’t be too proud to ask for help. If you are a NFL GM, and evaluating talent and character isn’t your thing, then find someone who can do it better than you can. This lesson has gone unlearned for a while now in Dallas.

1. Bobby Carpenter- Linebacker drafted 18 in the 2006 draft.
Super Bowl winning coach Bill Parcells didn’t miss on many picks but he missed on this one. Bobby was the son of Rob Carpenter who played running back for the Giants under Parcells.

It started bad for Bobby Carpenter during preseason on the HBO show “Hard Knocks” when OT Colombo referred to the rookie as “Barbie Carpenter”, because of a lack of toughness and the long blonde hair.

In May 2010, Jerry traded Carpenter to the Rams for Alex Barron and then Carpenter was cut before the season. He ended up playing with the Lions and in a game against Dallas in 2011, intercepted a Tony Romo pass for a TD. That began a Dallas collapse which most likely kept them out of the post season.

That seals the deal for me with Carpenter as the worst 1st round pick ever for Dallas. Not only did he do little to help them but he played his only outstanding game against them. And that “Barbie” nickname too.

Draft Lesson– Probably another case of drafting based on the famous father of a player. Since Parcells coached Bobby’s dad, he took a good look at Carpenter and pulled the trigger. Perhaps a lesson to consider in this year’s draft when looking at talented Texas DE Jackson Jeffcoat, who is the son of former Cowboys DE Jeff Jeffoat.