2020: CeeDee Lamb (Round 1, Pick 17)
Honorable Mention: Trevon Diggs (Round 2, Pick 51)
Still early to tell who exactly was the better draft pick of the 2020 class, but one thing both prospects proved was Dallas made the right decision by taking them. Lamb finished the season with 74 receptions for 935 yards and five touchdowns. The probability of him winning offensive rookie of the year would have drastically increased if Dak Prescott wouldn’t have suffered that week five injury. Diggs proved he can be a reliable corner for years to come. He finished with three interceptions and 14 pass deflections.
2019: Tony Pollard (Round 4, Pick 128)
Honorable Mention: Donovan Wilson (Round 6, Pick 213)
Tony Pollard was really the only member of his class to get meaningful playing time his rookie year. Pollard has shown his ability to be a serious threat backing up Elliott and saw his opportunities increase in his sophomore season. Wilson filled a glaring hole for Dallas at safety this past season when he finally received his opportunity. He only nabbed two interceptions, but from watching the games it was apparent he has a knack for being around the ball.
2018: Michael Gallup (Round 3, Pick 81)
HM: Leighton Vander Esch (Round 1, Pick 19)
If not for the injury to Prescott, we would be talking about Gallup having back-to-back 1,000-yards receiving. Leighton Vander Esch could have taken the spot of best draft pick of this class if not for his concerning injury history. He has missed 13 games in the past two seasons have playing in all 16 his rookie year.
2017: Jourdan Lewis (Round 3, pick 92)
HM: Chidobe Awuzie (Round 2-60)
This was a toss up, but the nod goes to Jourdan Lewis since he secured a second contract with the team. Both highlighted the Cowboys willingness to prioritize defense as four of their first five picks went towards that side of the ball.
2016: Dak Prescott (Round 4, pick 135)
HM: Ezekiel Elliott (Round 1-4)
Another discussion you’re happy with whatever side of the argument you stand on. The importance of having a quarterback is what gives the edge to Prescott – added to the fact he was on pace to match, if not top, his 4,900-yard 2019 season.
2015: Byron Jones (Round 1, pick 27)
HM: Damien Wilson (Round 4-127)
It took a few years for Byron Jones to live up to his first-round selection. He spent the first three years of his career as a free safety shadowing the opposing team’s tight end. Because of his inability to take the ball away he was often overlooked in that role. He made a seamless transition to corner under Kris Richard and it earned him a historic contract. On paper, many people may look at the honorable mention slot as Randy Gregory. However, Damien Wilson was a solid linebacker for Dallas, and, most importantly, available.
2014: Zack Martin (Round 1, pick 16)
HM: Demarcus Lawrence (Round 2-34)
Two great players drafted in back-to-back rounds for Dallas has continued to make their impact with this franchise. However, Zack Martin has consistently been seen as one of the top two-to-three players at his position since entering the league and has yet to really let that title go.
2013: Travis Fredrick (Round 1, pick 31)
HM: Terrance Williams (Round 3-74)
What was seen as a reach by most draft analysts turned out to be one of the best steals of the first round. Fredrick immediately impacted the Cowboys’ offensive line and was a pillar in elevating them to the best line in football. Terrance Williams received a lot of hate in his final years in Dallas, but you can’t disregard how impactful he was with Tony Romo – 232 receptions, 3,400 yards and 20 touchdowns is amazing production from a third-round pick.
2012: Tyrone Crawford (Round 3, pick 81)
HM: Morris Claiborne (Round 1-6)
Tyrone Crawford finished his eight-year career with Dallas recording 194 tackles and 25 sacks. From 2014 to 2018 he recorded at least three sacks. His peak was never what Morris Claiborne’s was, but the longevity of Crawford puts him in front of Claiborne.
2011: Dez Bryant (Round 1, pick 24)
HM: Sean Lee (Round 2-55)
537 receptions, 7,500 yards and 75 touchdowns. Though he didn’t walk out the building under his own terms Dez Bryant was arguably the best vertical threat in the NFL in his prime. Sean Lee also molded out a career when at his apex he was regarded as one of the three best linebackers in the NFL. However, injuries kept Lee from receiving his true praise as he lived in the shadows of players like Bobby Wagner and Luke Kuechly.