Let history be your guide (long)
There is a ton of speculation about what to do with the Cowboys 2 first rounders next year. I know most are literally drooling over McFadden. If we look at our team we can almost all agree to the following needs:
RB-especially if JJ leaves
DT/NT-Fergie is getting up in age and no real b/u is around
WR-TO and TG are both over 30
If you look at these positions and how first rounders typically turn out. You will find that as far as franchise backs that last for a long time in the league you have to look in the first round.
For example, if you simply look at the all-time list of rushers of the top 25 only 7 were not first round picks. If you look at the top ten only Curtis Martin at #4 was not a first round pick. There are busts like Blair Thomas #2 overall in 1990, and Lawrence Phillips (due more to character than ability), but it seems undeniable that the first round is the place to get a franchise back the hidden gems are very hard to find and strangely seem to always have their careers shortened by injury or simply wearing down. Jamal Anderson, Chris Warren, Barry Foster, Ricky Watters, Terry allen, etc all proved to be pro bowl caliber players, but all of their careers ended a little before their time and all declined sharply at the end. No... round one is the spot if you want an all-time back.
Cornerback is also a position that has success in round one. However,nice players are found beyond round 1, but Deions, Champ Baileys, Rod Woodsons, or Troy Vincents will be gone. These are found in the top ten of round one. Another thing to note never draft a corner from Nebraska. Bruce Pickens comes to mind. Success can be had later in round one as well our own Kevin Smith was one, but diamonds can be found much later. Aeneas Williams, Bobby Taylor, Mel Renfro, and Ty Law are a few. Two examples from home are Larry Brown and Everson Walls. still, the true shut down guys are in round one.
Now, wide receiver. here is a position where top guys often do not live up to expectations. Just in the last few years you have players like, Desmond Howard, David Terrell, Mike Williams, Charles Rogers, Rod Gardner, Koren Robinson, Peter Warrick, David Boston, Michael Westbrook, J.J. Stokes, anyone Atlanta drafts and many more. While top starters like John Stallworth (rd3)Anquan Boldin (rd2), TO (rd3), Marques Colston (rd7), Chris Carter, Keenan McCardell, Chad Johnson (rd2) Jimmy Smith (rd2) and Steve Smith were all found later. The bust factor for round one wideouts is much higher. Look to round 2 and later for a wideout.
Lastly, DT. 1st round DTs probably fail to live up to expectations more than any other in recent years. However they are hard to find in later rounds as well. Gerard Warren, Reggie Mcgrew, Darrell Russell, Ryan Sims, Steve Emtman, Jimmy Kennedy, Sean Gilbert to name a few. Were huge busts. The Bob Lilly, Joe Greene, Lee Roy Selmons, Randy White are Hall of Famers. You still find Warren Sapp, Anthony McFarland, Casey Hampton, John Henderson, and Bryant Youngs, but it is hard and for every decent player there are just some spectacular busts. Even players that turned out to be good never really played up to their draft status. Our own Russell Maryland and Tony Casilles picked one and two overall respectivlly, while very good players, and Dallas would not have won their Super Bowls w/o them they did not reach a dominant level. Players can be found in later rounds. Dallas' own Leon Lett, and Chad Hennings are two. Players in later rounds typically have flaws from off the field problems (Lett, Tank Johnson) to work ethic (Willie Blade, shaun Rogers). DT is a hard one to figure. A lot of the greats have come from round one and the busts just seem so horrific. Bottom line draft a DT in round one only if you do extensive research and find a strong passion for the game a la Warren Sapp and work ethic like a Randy White.
The bottom line for 2008 is this:
RBs- Round 1
CBs- one can be found later that is good, but shut down guys go in round one
WRs- one can definately be found later and there really are not any sure things in round one. Many great size speed guys have failed miserably.
DT/NT- probably the hardest to put finger on, probably look more to desire, work ethic and desire and not be overly wowed by wonderous size and speed.
1a. RB McFadden, (if gone try to trade down then take, Slaton, or Rice)
1b. DT Sedrick Ellis DT (size is not as important on Wade's D) Antoine Cason will be gone)
2. WR Earl Bennett Vandy, Adarius Bowman WR Ok St. (if not gone in one)
3. Best available CB