They are the winners of 11 straight and their only loss, in Week 1, was a one-point setback to the 8-4 New York Giants. Yes, Dallas Cowboys mania has set in, but it wouldn’t have been possible if not for the wizardry of owner/general manager Jerry Jones, head coach Jason Garrett, and the rest of the front office staff in the 2016 draft.
The Cowboys first pick, the fourth overall, was Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott who is now the NFL’s leading rusher. Elliott has rushed for 1,285 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Cowboys, who are second in the NFL in rushing averaging an impressive 155.8 yards per game. There were many that thought the Cowboys were crazy. A running back is a running back is a running back. Draft one late or even pick one up in free agency. Jones supported the selection of Elliott stating that he was the kind of back that could help keep the Dallas defense off the field. He was absolutely right.
Take a look inside the locker room as Coach Garrett addresses the
team after the win over the Vikings.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) December 3, 2016
In 2015, the Cowboys were 10th in the NFL in time of possession averaging 31:07 per game. This year, Dallas possesses the ball almost a full minute and a half more than last season. The Cowboys are first in the NFL in time of possession. Suffice it to say, choosing Elliott with their first pick was one of the Cowboys’ best draft selections of the past decade.
Jones and the Cowboys also had their eyes on a quarterback in the 2016 draft; only it wasn’t current starter Dak Prescott. The guy that everyone in the organization wanted was Paxton Lynch, who wound up in Denver. As the first round advanced near pick No. 20, Jones thought about trading second- and third-round picks to move up so they could get Lynch. Garrett and others thought the price was a little high and ultimately Lynch went to the Broncos.
In the fourth round, what transpired was truly fate. Cleveland held the first two picks, Nos. 99 and 100 overall, in the round. The Cowboys held pick No. 101. The Browns had already selected Cody Kessler in Round 3 and knowing that Cleveland would not target another quarterback, Dallas reached out to the Browns in hopes of moving up one spot to select the guy they wanted – Michigan State’s Connor Cook.
Cowboys weren’t their best, which might just make them the best, @nickeatman writes.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) December 2, 2016
Yes, the Cowboys favored Cook over Prescott and offered Cleveland a sixth-round pick in the 2017 draft to move up. Cleveland said no. The Cowboys upped the offer to a sixth-round pick in the 2016 draft. Again, the answer was no. Ultimately, Cleveland dealt pick No. 100 to Oakland which selected Cook. The Cowboys thought it was an odd choice given that the Raiders had Derek Carr and a solid backup in four-year veteran Matt McGloin. Little did they know, it was all part of the master plan that would guide them to the best record in football.
The Cowboys’ 2016 draft would yield Elliott and Prescott, a steal in the fourth round, as well as a wealth of other talent. Prescott has played like a seasoned veteran. He is currently third in the NFL in passer rating (108.6) and has completed nearly 68 percent of his passes. Prescott has thrown 19 touchdowns and just two interceptions. The rest of the Cowboys 2016 draft was productive too.
Second-round pick Jaylon Smith was considered one of the best linebackers in the country while at Notre Dame but suffered a knee injury late in the 2015 season. He spent the entire season on injured reserve but is expected to find a home in the Cowboys linebacker rotation next season. Third-rounder Maliek Collins is a capable backup as was DE Charles Tapper, also a fourth-round pick, until an injury placed him on IR. Running back Darius Jackson, CB Anthony Brown, TE Rico Gathers, and S Kavon Frazier were all drafted in the sixth round. Gathers is a member of the Cowboys practice squad while the other three all made the 53-man roster.