Two words come to mind when I think about how the 2010 NFL Draft played out for the Cowboys.
The first word is predictability.
It turns out that the best barometer for predicting Dallas’ draft picks was not the numerous mock drafts put out by quacks like Mel Kiper and Todd McShay, but the pre-draft visits conducted by the Cowboys prior to the draft.
If you paid attention to the players that were brought in to Valley Ranch for pre-draft visits, you could have penciled in the first three players the Cowboys drafted, as well as half of their picks.
Dez Bryant, Sean Lee, and Akwasi Owusu-Ansah were all brought in for pre-draft visits.
Taking a peak at the pre-draft visit list turned out to be much more accurate than any mock draft put out by either professionals or amateurs.
Mel Kiper’s mock draft had Dallas taking USC offensive tackle Charles Brown in the first round. Brown ended up being chosen at the end of the second round, having been passed up by the Cowboys twice.
Other mock drafts had the Cowboys taking players like Rodger Saffold, Bruce Campbell, and Damien Williams in the first round. None of the three went in the first round, and Campbell ended up plummeting to the fourth round.
Let that be a lesson to all of you who follow mock drafts like a sacred text. Everyone, including myself, loves to look at them. But as we saw this year, they are wildly inaccurate outside the top ten picks.
The second word is value.
With very few position needs, Dallas came into this draft with the best player available mentality.
Would it have been nice to add a future Pro Bowl offensive lineman? Sure.
Would it have been nice to add a ball-hawking free safety? No doubt.
But who was sitting on the board at #24 that had as much or more talent than Dez Bryant? Charles Brown? Bruce Campbell? Rodger Saffold? Taylor Mays?
As the Cowboys said after round one, and as I said in an article before the draft, the only two players the Cowboys believed had as much talent as Dez Bryant were Earl Thomas and Mike Iupati, both off the board before pick #20.
Instead of trading their first round pick and the kitchen sink to move up to #14 to pick Earl Thomas, the Cowboys held tight and threw a laughable trade at the New England Patriots to move up three spots to land one of the most talented players in the draft.
Not bad at all.
What about the second round? Who was on the board at #55 that you would have rather had than Sean Lee? Charles Brown still? Bruce Campbell still? Morgan Burnett? Chad Jones?
The moral of this story is do not draft based on need. When teams draft based on need, they start reaching for players and busts are more likely to litter the roster after a few seasons.
See players like James Marten in 2007, Jacob Rogers and Stephen Peterman in 2004, Al Johnson in 2003, and Tony Dixon in 2001 to find out what happens historically when Dallas reaches for players based on need.