Cowboys' Rookies Making an Impact

It's not exactly 'The Dirty Dozen.' But it might be considered the "Make-Up-For-Carver, Williams, Pittman, LaFleur, Goodrich, Carter, Rogers-In-One-Draft 10.''

It has been written that Jacob Rogers is the biggest Cowboys bust of them all, a second-year second-rounder who in one week this summer went from right tackle starter to pariah, hobbling away from football like a lady with a broken high heel.

OK, so InfalliBill missed on one.

But in Sunday's thrilling 28-24 season-opening win at San Diego, it appeared that every single other personnel move made recently by Mr. I-Want-To-Shop-For-The-Groceries fell precisely into place.

Three drafted-related observations that come in the double wake of Rogers-as-all-time-bust talk and Right-buttons-pushed-to-beat-the-Chargers talk:

1) The centerpiece of this franchise's future excellence is the 2005 draft. How many guys from this group will make significant contributions this year? I say DeMarcus Ware is a Rookie of the Year candidate. Peter King, our pal from SI, who gets his stuff fed straight to him by InfalliBill himself, says Chris Canty might end up being worthy of votes. Marcus Spears will be a starter. So will Kevin Burnett, eventually. Rob Petitti started Sunday. Marion Barber is a keeper. So is Tyson Thompson. Someday, so will Justin Beriault be. Jon Condo, Thomas Johnson and Jay Ratliff also made the club.

It's not exactly 'The Dirty Dozen.' But it might be considered the "Make-Up-For-Carver, Williams, Pittman, LaFleur, Goodrich, Carter, Rogers-In-One-Draft 10.''

2) The "biggest-bust-ever'' gibberish is short-sighted, in two ways. I won't go into detail about each of these historical names, and I won't bother dissecting the sometimes-justifiable circumstances surrounding their failures. But Dallas, for all its legendary draft-day brilliance, still brought you:

Bill Thomas, RB, Boston College, 1972 Round 1, one season

Rod Hill, CB, Kentucky State, 1982 Round 1, two seasons

Billy Cannon, LB, Texas A&M, 1984 Round 1, one season

Mike Sherrard, WR, UCLA, 1986, Round 1, one season

We all remember '94's Shante Carver and '95's Sherman Williams and '96's Kavika Pittman and '97's David LaFleur and 2000's Dwayne Goodrich and '01's Quincy Carter and ... geez, that's a lot of first-overall-pick misses in six drafts in eight years! And it's easy to remember Rogers because the failure is so fresh. But the aforementioned foursome serves as a reminder that even in Dallas' drafting heyday, a second-year second-round failure could be topped by first-year first-round failures.

In some cases, by the way, maybe a guy should be given time in order to prevent him from being a bust. A year ago, did you project Patrick Crayton as someone who would walk into San Diego and catch six passes for 89 yards and a score (and have Fox telecasters Joe Buck and Troy Aikman gushing about him for three hours)? A year ago, were you confident that Terence Newman was part of a secondary so sound that the Cowboys could blitz and blitz and blitz down the stretch, knowing Newman would hold up? A year ago, how did you like the odds of Andre Gurode coming off the bench to solidify the line. ... and doing it at center?

3) I know this is completely unscientific, but I want to relay to you something I said immediately after the 1999 draft. That one featured Ebenezer Ekuban, Solomon Page, Dat Nguyen, Wane McGarrity, Peppi Zellner, Martay Jenkins, Mike Lucky and Kelvin Garmon.

Forgetting talent evaluation for a moment (easy to forget, inasmuch as Dat Nguyen stands alone there): Cripes, Ebenezer, Dat, Wane, Martay, Lucky and Peppi? What was that? Sounded like some odd combination of inhabitants of a pet kennel and participants in a ladies' sewing bee.

Of course, a team has to build through the draft.

Look on the field Sunday, and it's clear Dallas is doing that.

At the same time, today I'm also a fan of guys named Anthony, Marco, Jason, Aaron and Drew. Those sound like veteran names, veteran names who can help a team put a singular headline-stealing failed pick behind it and put a 'W' next to a visit to San Diego.

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