Perception is Everything - Jimmy Johnson's Drafts
Perception is Everything
By Rafael Vela 4 Comments
How good was Jimmy Johnson as a drafter? Good? Great? One of the all time bests?
Make your choice quickly.
Most people would tell you Jimmy was outstanding, and the three Super Bowls his guys won offer testimony to that.
Fine, but lets take a look at 1992, the last Herschel Walker-fortified draft. The Cowboys entered with a first day double, holding two picks in the first, second and third rounds. Some wheeling and down dealing let them move around the board, positioning themselves to land guys they wanted.
After two rounds, it’s hard to quibble with the Cowboys’ choices:
Pick 17 — Kevin Smith, CB, Texas A&M
Pick 24 — Robert Jones, MLB, East Carolina
Pick 36 — Jimmy Smith, WR, Jackson State
Pick 37 — Darren Woodson, OLB, Arizona State
The Cowboys found two Pro Bowl caliber defensive backs in Smith and Woodson, filling two glaring secondary needs. They got a steady MLB in Jones, who replaced Jack Del Rio immediately.
Their best pick did nothing for the team. Jimmy Smith has good odds of entering Canton some day, but a broken leg in ‘92 and nagging injuries the following two seasons led to his ill-considered waiving. I was lucky enough to see Smith in camp just days before his rookie season injury. He was torturing safeties working out of the slot. It’s frustrating to think what he could have done in Dallas with better luck.
Imagine the ‘94 Cowboys with a WR trio of Irvin, Harper and Smith. Could any secondary have stopped that?
But I digress. The point is to assess the whole of the draft. Look at the rest of Jimmy’s picks:
58. Clayton Holmes, CB, Carson-Newman
82. James Brown, OT, Virginia State
109. Tom Myslinski, OG, Tennessee
120. Greg Briggs, S, Texas Southern
121. Rod Milstead, OG, Delaware State
149. Fallon Wacasey, TE, Tulsa
248. Nate Kirtman, DB, Pomona-Pitzer
250. Chris Hall, S, East Carolina
275. John Terry, G, Livingstone
302. Tim Daniel, WR, Florida A&M
317. Don Harris, DB, Texas Tech
That giant whiffing sound is Jimmy going 0 for 11 on his last picks. None of them stuck.
To be fair, the ‘92 team was close to bursting with talent and the odds of any late pick making the squad were long.
That said, had any of these guys been good, they would have played for other teams. Myslinski had a decent NFL career with Chicago, Pittsburgh and Indy. Milstead landed in San Francisco and started for a year, and later played for the Redskins. That, as they say, was that. None of them did anything in a Dallas uniform.
What grade would you give this draft? An A? A B or C, perhaps?
If you go solely on numbers, Dallas went 4 for 15, a horrible percentage for a team with so many high picks.
On the other hand, Dallas got the key players it needed, in Smith, Jones and Woodson to fill out the defense and make three Super Bowl runs.
Keep this in mind as we near the ‘07 draft. Does Dallas still need players in bulk, or two to three quality pickups to move up another level or two?