The Dallas Cowboys Have The Fourth Overall Pick, Here's The History.

The Cowboys have "earned" the fourth pick in the draft. Here's the history of the pick as well as Dallas in the Top 5.

Thanks to Sunday’s defeat at the hands of Washington, in conjunction with other results around the league, the Dallas Cowboys own the 4th selection in this coming April’s Amateur Draft. This is the current order of the Top 20 picks.

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Dallas hasn't selected fourth overall in a draft since 1964, when they selected Scott Appleton, defensive tackle from Texas.

Held in Chicago for the second consecutive year, Dallas fans won’t have to wait very long in this year’s draft for their pick as they did last year. CowboysHQ targeted Byron Jones as the best-case scenario selection in 2015 when Dallas was picking 27th. Our draft team saw him as the second best fit of the secondary players to Marcus Peters, but Peters came with a ton of baggage from his days at the University of Washington. Jones, from Connecticut, was one of the best athletes the draft had ever seen, and was a very heady individual on and off the field. As Jones becomes the centerpiece of the Cowboys secondary plans, it is a pick that follows their recent trend of home-run first round selections.

Now, Dallas will have the pick of the litter. Save for three players, Dallas will have the opportunity to select whom they feel is the best of the best, something they’ve been able to secure regardless of where they selected in recent years. Here’s a look at Dallas’ recent Round 1 history:

YearPick No.PositionPlayerNotes
2015 27 CB Byron Jones, Connecticut  
2014 16 OT Zack Martin, Notre Dame  
2013 31 C Travis Frederick, Wisconsin Dallas originally had the 18th pick, traded to SF for 31 and 74 (Terrance Williams)
2012 6 CB Morris Claiborne, LSU Dallas originally had the 14th pick, traded 14 (Michael Brockers) and 45 (Alshon Jeffery) to St. Louis
2011 9 OT Tyron Smith, USC  
2010 24 WR Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State Dallas originally had 27th pick, traded 27 (Devin McCourty) and 90 (Taylor Price) to New England

Without seeing how free agency plays out, it’s impossible to say what Dallas’ biggest remaining needs will be come draft time. The one glaring hole that will almost assuredly remain is at QB, as it’s extremely rare for a team to find a franchise quarterback in free agency. Teams simply don’t let those guys out of the building unless there is a serious medical or personality concern.

Head Coach Jason Garrett’s philosophy is to fill needs via free agency (not necessarily high-cost players, but starting caliber) so that the draft capital can be spent at any necessary position. This doesn’t always work out, but it is an outline to follow. With that in mind, here’s a look at the last 20 years of the fourth overall selection.

YearTeamPlayerSchoolConferenceYearsCareer AVAvg AV
1996 Baltimore Ogden, Johnathan, OT UCLA Pac-12 12 122 10
1997 Baltimore Boulware, Peter, LB Florida St ACC 9* 70 8
1998 Oakland Woodson, Charles, DB Michigan Big 10 17 146 9
1999 New Orleans Williams, Ricky RB Texas Big 12 11 90 8
2000 Cincinnati Warrick, Peter, WR Florida St ACC 6 29 5
2001 Cincinnati Smith, Justin, DE Missouri Big 12 14 132 9
2002 Buffalo Williams, Mike, OT Texas Big 12 5* 27 5
2003 NY Jets Robertson, Dwayne, DT Kentucky SEC 38 6
2004 San Diego Rivers, Phillip, QB NC State ACC 11+ 139 13
2005 Chicago Benson, Cedric, TB Texas Big 12 8 39 5
2006 NY Jets Ferguson, D'Brickashaw, OT UVA ACC 9+ 61 7
2007 Tampa Adams, Gaines, DE Clemson ACC 3 18 6
2008 Oakland McFadden, Darren, RB Arkansas SEC current 37 5
2009 Seattle Curry, Aaron, LB Wake Forest ACC 4 18 5
2010 Washington Williams, Trent OT Oklahoma Big 12 current 42 8
2011 Cincinnati Green, AJ WR Georgia SEC current 45 11
2012 Minnesota Kalil, Matt OT USC Pac-12 current 25 8
2013 Philadelphia Johnson, Lane OT Oklahoma Big 12 current 13 7
2014 Buffalo Watkins, Sammy WR Clemson ACC current 8 8
2015 Oakland Cooper, Amari WR Alabama SEC current n/a n/a

AV, or Approximate Value, is a metric developed by mathematician Doug Driden for Pro-Football-Reference.com. What it does is attempt to put "a single number on the seasonal value of a player at any position from any year. It's a great tool for comparison of players over their careers.

Some notes from the above chart:

  • The average career of an NFL first rounder is 9.3 years (per the league in 2011). With an Average AV of 8 for the last 20 years of fourth selections, Dallas should expect a Career AV of 72 from their selection should they choose not to trade the pick. So far, 5 players of the last 20 years have acheived this, with Ferguson having the chance to join the group and Bouleware just missing the cut. Include them, and eliminate the 6 players drafted from 2010 on, and we're at 7/14 guys who've managed the acheivement. Basically, there's a 50% bust rate at the No. 4 pick; a coin flip. Exactly what we've been preaching about draft picks being lottery tickets.
  • OVer the past 10 years, the top selections with the fourth overall pick have been wideouts and offensive tackles. The three times teams have strayed, from 2007-2009, the players have not lived up to their billings at all. Would Dallas really consider adding another first rounder to their offensive line? How would LaQuan Treadwell look opposite Dez Bryant?
  • Dallas loves players from the power conferences and it seems the fourth pick overall does as well. ACC: 7 Big 12: 6 SEC: 4 Pac-12: 2 Big 10: 1

Finally, here's a look at how Dallas has made out in it's history when selecting in the Top 5.

YearPickSelectionAccolades
1964 4 Scott Appleton, DT, Texas Traded to Pittsburgh for WR Buddy Dials
1965 5 Craig Morton, QB, California Started SB V, famously alternated plays w/ Roger Staubach in 1971
1966 5 John Niland, OG, Iowa 3x All Pro, 6x Pro Bowl
1974 1 Ed "Too Tall" Jones, DE, Tenn State 3x All Pro, 3x Pro Bowl
1975 2 Randy White Hall of Fame
1977 2 Tony Dorsett Hall of Fame
1989 1 Troy Aikman Hall of Fame
1991 1 Russell Maryland Pro Bowl
2003 5 Terence Newman 2x Pro Bowl

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