The Cowboys’ 2008 draft class… What the hell happened?

In the Cowboys’ second preseason game against the Chargers, Felix Jones brought in a little swing pass in the flat on 3rd and 4.  Standing in his way between a first down and a punt was Chargers third year LB Donald Butler.  The 2008 or 2009 version of Felix Jones probably would have used his elusiveness to easily evade Butler at least enough to pick up the first down.  The 2012 version, for some reason, decided to run right into Butler.  It did not work.  Butler stoned Jones cold, and stopped him a couple yards shy of the 1st down.  Now, that’s just one play… and it’s one play in the preseason, no less.  But I found it to be a perfect example of what Felix Jones has become… Once the cornerstone of that 2008 draft class, he has become “just a guy.”

Rewind to the end of the 2009 season.  The Cowboys had won their first playoff game in almost a decade and a half, and had done so in extremely satisfying fashion over a Philadelphia Eagles team that had largely dominated the NFC East over the last decade (save for a Giants Super Bowl along the way).  The Cowboys would be bounced from the playoffs the next week by the Vikings, but the proverbial arrow was seemingly pointing up, as their 2008 draft class looked like it might be a huge part of their future success.  And then… that draft class pretty much fell apart.  Here is what we thought of the Cowboys 2008 draft class back at the end of the 2009 season, and what we think of them now:

Player What did we think after the 2009 season? What do we think now?
Felix Jones Injury risk, but still a major talent and likely star player. 8.9 YPC in 2008 rookie season, 5.9 YPC in 2009. Just 2 fumbles. Bigtime homerun threat, and dangerous kick returner. The kind of player you’re going to have to specifically gameplan for if you’re an opposing defense. 4.3 YPC in 2010, 4.5 in 2011, although a lot of that was on the steadily declining OL, and subsequent sudden changeover to a bad/inexperienced OL. 7 fumbles and 3 total TDs in those two season. Lost starting job to DeMarco Murray. High possibility he wont be with the team in 2013.
Mike Jenkins Made the Pro Bowl after the 2009 season. It was a bit of a shaky selection, but Jenkins was already a good young, decorated player on the rise after just two seasons in the NFL. Looked to be a long term answer at CB. 2010 was an utter disaster. Jenkins was abused in the passing game, and furthered the perception as a player that lacked toughness after a Monday nght game against the Packers in which he let James Jones walk into the end zone without attempting a tackle. 2011 was a major improvement, but the Cowboys decided to sign CB Brandon Carr to a 5 year, $50 million deal, and then used their 1st and 2nd round picks to move up and select CB Morris Claiborne in the 2012 draft. Jenkins is unhappy with his role on the team and is battling a shoulder issue. He is almost certain not to be with the team in 2013.
Martellus Bennett Bennett’s rookie year was promising, as he chipped in 4 TDs on 20 receptions. He took a step backwards in his second NFL season, becoming a non-factor in the passing game, but developing some blocking skills. Reliable blocker, but still a complete non-factor as a receiving threat. The Cowboys let him walk in free agency without even a whiff of a fight to keep him. Bennett is now the #2 TE of sorts with the Giants behind Bear Pascoe.
Tashard Choice Choice looked to be a very skilled jack-of-all-trades kind of back, that could do it all. Run, catch, block. 5.1 YPC and 472 rushing yards his rookie season, 5.5 YPC and 349 rushing yards his 2nd season. Very valuable backup. Played for 3 teams last season (cut by 2), running for 2.7 YPC on 57 attempts. Asked Michael Vick for an autograph after a loss to Philly.
Orlando Scandrick Was beginning to emerge as a quality nickel corner. Still a very quality nickel CB, although an overpaid one. Still, excellent value for the Cowboys when they got him in the 5th round.
Erik Walden Didn’t make the team his rookie season. Bounced around the league a little, started 15 games for Green Bay last year.

And yet, this draft class is 10 times better than the Cowboys’ 2009 draft class.


  1. Jim Z. says:

    As bad as their 2008 and 2009 drafts look right now, it’s amazing that it probably wont’ even matter now, as their 2010 and 2011 drafts are looking positively amazing.

  2. Fred says:

    Giant’s start out new players slowly. Yes, you are correct technically he han’t started yet. But every beat writer expects Bennett to start come 9/5. He’s been extemely impressive in all phases and Cowboys fans will be pissed the porduction the Giants will get from him this year. But it’s just the Giant’s use of TE’s better fits his skills and he gets to start.

  3. Tracer Bullet says:

    Kelce, and maybe Lewis, will be the only reason we won’t be saying the same thing about the Eagles 2011 draft in a few years.

    1. Well, the difference there is that nobody ever thought the Eagles’ 2011 draft was strong to begin with. This 2008 Cowboys draft was once thought to be a phenomenal draft.

    2. mjoedgaard says:

      Watkins, while not a pro bowl player seems to be a solid long term starter at RG, Curtis Marsh played really well in the last pre season game and Havili seems to have locked the FB position down and seems able to do what Weaver did for us in 2009. Matthews is a solid backup LB and ST player, Vandervelde is a player Mudd is very high on. Alex Henry broke the rookie accuracy record. Rolle is the starting WILL right now and a good ST player. Jarrett is the wildcard for this class.

  4. Screams poor coaching to me.

  5. Cow pie 45 says:

    Orlando Scandrick gave up 69% of passes thrown his way last year. He was horrible and is waayyyyy overpaid.

    1. Derf Diggy says:

      That’s only one metric to look at, as a slot corner you’re going to see a lot of short passes completed. He wasn’t horrible, overpaid based on last year, sure…horrible, not at all.

  6. Tyler D AKA LFD says:

    As the late Wellington Mara once said… “Never hire a GM you can’t fire!”

  7. Kurt says:

    Bennett is the STARTING Tight-end.In both pre-season games he was in the starting line-ups.He takes most of his snaps with the first team offense.

    1. Jimmy Kempski says:

      …if they go 2TE.

  8. Derf Diggy says:

    Think the catch was amazing…amazing but irrelevant. As a holding penalty negated the catch.

    You’re being a homer if you can’t see why homers wouldn’t get giddy at the sheer difficulty and athleticism in that catch. That’s all. Great catch,negated..whether in or out, in a pointless preseason game.

  9. AJ says:

    hey jimmy wanted to hear your thoughts about this glorified cowboys highlight in which Dez caught the ball but landed out of bounds. Never before have I seen so much commotion made over what’s basically an incomplete pass. It’s like they are dying to make the boys relevant.

    1. It was a pretty sick catch, and personally, I though he got both feet in.

      1. Derf Diggy says:

        Booya…in de face, AJ

  10. seanrude says:

    Choice asking for that autograph still rankles me, as do all of the Cowboys’ fans who defended Choice at the time. There is a time and a place for that stuff, and on the field after a loss is not it.

  11. Oh Tashard Choise. He also got nice Big Brother tap along the way. Good times.

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