Re-grading the Dallas Cowboys 2017 draft: Looking back

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
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The Dallas Cowboys executive team comprises many individuals, but the visible three-headed monster includes Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones, and Will McClay.

McClay became the Vice President of Player Personnel for the Dallas Cowboys in 2018. He has been behind the men drafting and securing talent for America’s Team.

His resume has been very good in selecting first-round players, except for 2017.

Round 1, Pick #28 – Taco Charlton

The 2017 NFL Draft got off to a very bumpy start. This is known as the Taco Charlton draft, and for good reason.

Dallas had the 28th overall selection that year, and they had a noticeable need at the defensive edge position. Two prominent names were on the board, and the Cowboys had a decision to make.

Unfortunately, they made the wrong one. Charlton and T.J. Watt were edge prospects, and even Watt’s family believed he would be the guy. There’s no secret there.

Taco was listed as 6’6″, 277lbs with a 4.92 in the 40-yard dash and a 1.7 10-yard split at that size. His NFL draft comparison was Chandler Jones. He definitely looked the part, there’s no denying that.

However, T.J. Watt should have clearly been the choice. If Dan Quinn had been the defensive coordinator in 2018, he might have been the choice.

Historically, Rod Marinelli went with the quicker outside linebacker type on the right-end position, similar to Watt, but that wasn’t the case in this draft.

It still needs to be confirmed what Marinelli’s preference was, but the Cowboys went with Charlton, and the returns were borderline pathetic, and that’s being really nice.

During Charlton’s tenure with Dallas, he tallied 41 combined tackles and 4 sacks in 27 games.

The starting job was open for the taking opposite Demarcus Lawrence. Randy Gregory dealt with his fair share of suspension issues, and Tyrone Crawford was more of the inside-outside defensive lineman.

The road could not have been any rosier for Taco, but he never could capitalize on it.

Coupled with the injuries, the fallout with the coaches, and attitude concerns, Dallas was stuck with only one recourse: waiving their first-round pick after only two years on the team.

They are not drafting Watt. Cutting bait on your 1st round choice. Talk about an opportunity cost down the toilet.

There is only one grade to give here.

Individual Grade: F