Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is an easy target for social media. It is highly acclaimed that Jerry has destroyed the Cowboys since Day 1, and since firing Tom Landry, even three Super Bowl rings can’t redeem him — probably because he fired Jimmy Johnson after two Super Bowl wins.
In spite of the public perception of Jerry Jones, we have to remember he’s done right in a few cases. After all, he did take a step back and put his Texas fandom away for one second to let the Cowboys draft Zack Martin over Johnny Manziel.
Though the Cowboys didn’t draft Manziel, there’s been a few guys in Jerry Jones’ tenure that were big whiffs in the first round. Shante Carver, David LaFleur, and Ebenezer Ekuban highlight that list of picks in the first round that was just pathetic. I’m sure we don’t have to mention guys in the last ten years like Felix Jones because you know as well as I do, Dallas went from 1991 through the 2001 draft with only two first round picks (Russell Maryland and Greg Ellis) that panned out to be Pro Bowlers, using their nine picks in that time, if you include Kelvin Prichett who was traded immediately after the 1991 Draft.
Jerry’s first draft was in 1989, so looking back through nearly 30 years, I pick out the five best picks in the 1st round of Jerry’s tenure, at least in the order I’d rank them in.
5. Tyron Smith
Though it is a recent selection and a lot of football is still to be played, I believe Tyron Smith is one of the safest picks Jerry’s ever made in his lifetime. You have to remember the time in which this pick was made, back in 2011. The Cowboys had just came off the 2010 season which saw Tony Romo’s collarbone be broke (the first time). The three Dallas quarterbacks that season (Romo, Jon Kitna, Stephen McGee) were sacked a total of 31 times combined, while not even obtaining a 1000 yard rusher. Dallas than began this reconstruction of the offensive line, getting younger up front, and we’ve seen the harvest the last couple years.
In five seasons, Tyron Smith has 3 Pro Bowl selections and was named as a first team All-Pro player. Undoubtedly, Tyron Smith is one of the best, if not the best, offensive tackle in the game today. And this goes without saying, that he really instilled the confidence needed in the Cowboys front office to proceed in restructuring their offensive line. So if you have anyone to thank (besides Jerry) for the 2015 Cowboys offensive line, it’s Tyron Smith. Maybe in ten years he’s a little higher than he was in 2016.
4. Terence Newman
Newman was the fifth overall pick in 2003 by the Cowboys, and perhaps not being at the level of Deion Sanders, you’d be amazed at how consistent he was for the Dallas organization. To begin things out of Kansas State, he intercepted the Redskins three times in one game of his rookie year, which will get Dallas fans to love you. I mean, how can you NOT like a guy who does that?
Terence Newman is knocked for his health, especially in his later years, but he was one of the more consistent ones on the field. In nine seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, Terence Newman only missed 11 games, which accounts for just 7.6% of his tenure. If you combine that with having 3-5 interceptions in 8 of the 9 seasons, you’ll take that after knowing what we have now, where Brandon Carr hasn’t had a single interception in two years!
I guess the saying’s true… You don’t know what you had until it’s not there anymore.
3. DeMarcus Ware
Luckily, I don’t have to sell this one as hard as the other two mentioned before him, considering everybody would agree that DeMarcus Ware is deserving of a gold jacket in Canton one day, perhaps a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Ware was an excellent representation of the organization both on and off the field. Ware would don the famous number 94 that Charles Haley wore, and he didn’t take that bestowed honor lightly. After being taken 11th overall in the 2005 NFL Draft, Ware would compile 117 sacks over nine seasons and sack Eli Manning more times than we can count, but as Cowboys fans, we wouldn’t mind counting. Dallas fans would also like to count his 20-sack season back in 2008, and not to forget his 2011 season when he had 19.5 sacks. Certainly, Ware made his presence felt on that field, warranting an opponent’s best each and every week.
When you try to describe the Dallas Cowboys over a decade, you’d use the names Tony Romo, Jason Witten, and Ware’s name would also be mentioned, as it should be. Ware showed tremendous grit when he donned the star, and despite dealing with his ĥwell documented injuries, he only missed three games his entire Cowboys career, that being in his final season back in 2013, that posted a career-low 6 sacks. Ware undoubtedly proved he could handle the pain, he could tolerate it, even if he just garnered attention and didn’t total a single sack in the game, he wanted to be out there. I think without question this is one of Jerry’s best draft selections ever.
2. Troy Aikman
The first selection of the Jerry Jones Era was back in the 1989 NFL Draft with the number one overall selection for the Cowboys. The organization gambled on a quarterback out of UCLA by the name of Troy Aikman. Anytime you take a quarterback number one overall, or really any player, it has to be a hit, and you expect big things out of that player. Aikman delivered in his career going to (and winning by double digits) three Super Bowls, being nominated to six Pro Bowls, won the 1996 Walter Peyton Man of the Year Award, and last but not least, holds his place in both the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
When you ask most people, Troy Aikman’s name comes up as one of the three best quarterbacks in franchise history, listed along Roger Staubach and current Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. Troy Aikman has left some big shoes to fill since he left Dallas, and although Romo has statistics worthy of the Hall of Fame, Aikman set the standard so high as to win three Super Bowls, a feat rarely accomplished in the NFL. As a matter of fact, Troy Aikman is one of only four quarterbacks to win at least 3 Super Bowls, and he’s one of the three to have never lost on the biggest stage. Troy Aikman is someone you can never say “choked”, considering the unblemished Super Bowl record and the 111.9 passer rating in those three crowning moments. Aikman should be remembered for his heroics and leading the Dallas Dynasty through the 1990s.
1. Emmitt Smith
The year after Troy Aikman was drafted, the Cowboys had the task of filling another need on the offensive side. They spent their first round draft choice on a running back, sound familiar? The Cowboys took Emmitt Smith out of Florida with the 17th overall pick and never looked back. The NFL’s all-time leading rusher accounted for 8 Pro Bowls in 13 seasons with the Cowboys, four rushing titles in five years, and a 3-time Super Bowl Champion. Emmitt commanded instant success that was beyond all, and now he sits in the same place Troy Aikman does, in the Ring of Honor and Hall of Fame.
Often times the offensive line gets the credit back in the 90’s, as they should, but Emmitt Smith was an incredible north-south runner that refused to go down. A game that will live in infamy is the game he separated his shoulder against the Giants and continued to play, and boy, did he play! Being able to dominate the NFL in rushing with an elite quarterback is hard enough, but Emmitt had to compete against Detroit’s Barry Sanders for the best back in football at that time. Emmitt Smith was so special and there will never be one like them. He was the final triplet selected for the Cowboys and ever since Dallas fans have been begging for Jerry to give birth to another set of triplets, but there will be nothing like Irvin, Aikman, and Emmitt Smith.
You can’t get much better than Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith as your two first round selections, Jerry. Here’s to hoping that Ezekiel Elliott can fill the shoes left by the one, the only, Emmitt Smith.
Did I leave anyone off the list? Who do you think is the greatest first round choice of the Cowboys in history? Let me know down in the comments below. God bless! :)