If there’s ever a time to feel hopeful and optimistic about the future, it is today, the start of the NFL draft. After the Super Bowl in February this is the only thing that keeps us football fans going through the winter, the reason we get out of bed every day, even when daylight savings time ends and we lose an hour of sleep. Today we finally have something to be excited about. It doesn’t matter how good or terrible your football team was last season, things are beginning anew and right now, anything is possible(except of course for the Cleveland Browns who, despite getting the first pick in the draft, will underperform agin this year, and most likely for the rest of my lifetime). Drafting the right player could drastically improve your team’s chances of winning a Super Bowl. Some guy you’ve never heard of could be a playmaker on your team for the next decade or more.
With all that in mind, I want to take a look back at some of the past drafts and talk about my experiences on draft night, and how I felt about my favorite team, the Dallas Cowboys, and the picks that they’ve made over the years. The first time I actually remember watching the draft was in the Spring of 2008. I went over to my friend Brock’s house to watch the first round. We picked Felix Jones, the running back from Arkansas, and given that I lived in Little Rock, most of my friends who were Cowboy fans were pretty excited about the pick. I wasn’t a fan of the Razorbacks, the hometown team, but I put my differences aside and tried to get onboard with our number one pick. I don’t think I watched the draft in 2009, but I didn’t miss any great picks by Dallas. In 2010 I watched the first round of the draft from my dorm room in St. Cloud, Minnesota. The Cowboys picked a wide receiver, Dez Bryant, out of Oklahoma State. I didn’t know much about him except he had the ability to make big plays, and that was something to feel hopeful about. Little did I know that Dez would go on to make huge plays for the Cowboys and become one of my all-time favorite players on the team, who is still shredding defenses to this day.
In 2011 we drafted a lineman, Tyron Smith, which turned out to be a great pick but I couldn’t get myself excited about getting a left tackle. The next year as I drove from Searcy, Arkansas to Memphis, the Cowboys picked Morris Claiborne, the defensive back out of LSU. Again, I wasn’t too knowledgeable about him, but I did know that Dallas was desperate for help on the defensive side of the ball, so I was happy with the pick. Unfortunately Claiborne never really lived up to his hype in the NFL, and I’m glad that he decided to sign with somebody else this offseason. The following two years, 2013 and ‘14 we drafted linemen, which again turned out to be huge for the team but I didn’t get all that excited about them on draft night. In 2015 I was in Little Rock, visiting my family and got to watch the draft with my brother Logan, one of the biggest Cowboys fans I know. We drafted Byron Jones, a defensive back, which we were both happy about since the Dallas secondary continues to be a weak point on our team.
Last year with the fourth overall pick in the NFL draft, the Dallas Cowboys selected Ezekiel Elliot, the running back out of Ohio State, and I was ecstatic. He was the kind of playmaker that could give our offense the boost necessary to make a run deep into the playoffs, and last year he exceeded everyone’s expectations by being one of the most dominant running backs in the league as a rookie, something he accomplished largely because of the linemen we drafted in years earlier. I don’t know who Dallas will pick tonight, I’m hoping a defensive pass rusher or a potential big playmaker in the secondary, but whoever we draft, I have hope that he will be the missing puzzle piece our team needs to win the Super Bowl. Only time will tell.