Dallas Cowboys 2023 draft grades: The science of the grades, pick by pick

Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Welcome to the most controversial time of the NFL year. A time when Dallas Cowboys fans are at their most argumentative. A time when no one can agree, camps divide, and philosophies are argued and ignored. It’s time for Draft grades.

As the saying goes, “opinions are like elbows…(or something like that).” Everyone has a take and their scales all vary. One grader could use a “C” for 80 percent of the field since it represents meeting expectations. Someone else may consider meeting expectations as an “A” grade and consider a “C” slight. Some are based on their own predictions for the player. Others are based on team needs.

This ain’t that.

These Dallas Cowboys 2023 draft grades are not a prediction of success but rather based on value, need, risk, and scarcity.

Admittedly, my grades are vastly different from most. In no way am I trying to predict how a player will perform. Let me repeat and rephrase – these are not a prediction or based on how good I think a player may or may not be. Those are scouting reports.

These grades here are based on information we have today. Things like the following:

  1. Draft position vs expected draft position (based on consensus board)
  2. Positional value (positional WAR)
  3. Surplus value (savings of rookie contract over veteran contract of that position)
  4. Need (which speaks to impact on the Dallas Cowboys)
  5. Risk (developmental players have more risk than polished players)
  6. Scarcity (shallow positions need to be over-drafted and then vice versa)

Based on all of this, a player could theoretically get an “F,” go on to have a Hall of Fame career and the grade will still hold true. Because again, these are not based on how good I think a player is or a prediction of how their career will play out.

Clear as mud?

The thing all Dallas Cowboys fans need to keep in mind is, more often than not, the Cowboys draft excellent players. Even if they reach on a pick or implement suspect strategy in their methods, they usually end up with really good players.

There is much to be excited for because Will McClay and staff are very good at their jobs. These grades have almost nothing to do with Will McClay and everything to do with the items listed above (cue the “I think I trust Will McClay more than …” comment from someone who didn’t read any of this explanation).

Note: The consensus board is based on top draft boards. Consensus boards have been proven to coincide 80 percent of the time per Sumer Sports so it’s an extremely accurate way to assess value.