The Cowboys’ past seven drafts have yielded 13 current starters and 12 Pro Bowl berths, and that’s hitting on only one of six second-rounders … at least so far.
Linebacker Sean Lee, the team’s 2010 second-rounder, earned his first Pro Bowl last season. The second-round choices since then were: linebacker Bruce Carter, tight end Gavin Escobar, defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, defensive end Randy Gregory and linebacker Jaylon Smith.
Most had injury or off-field issues that dropped their stock, inviting the Cowboys to take chances in the second round.
“Obviously that round has been a tempting round for us,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “When you look at a guy like Sean Lee, who has certainly had his question marks coming in from an injury standpoint, that’s really paid off for us. A lot of times in that second round, there’s some guys who have first-round talent. Bruce Carter falls into that category. Or they have some injuries or they have something holding them back. I must admit, we’ve kind of fallen into that little quagmire if you will that we’ve got to continue to take a look at. Hopefully we’ll snap that streak here with Jaylon and hopefully Randy and DeMarcus Lawrence will come on and be solid guys as well for the future.
“But there’s no question that we’ve got to continue to take a look at what we’re doing versus the success we’ve had, whether it’s injury issues or off-the-field issues with first-round caliber players. We’ve certainly got to take a look and see how we can be better in terms of finding long term football players in the second round.”
▪ Carter, who tore the ACL in his left knee during his senior season at North Carolina, started 32 games in four seasons in Dallas after the Cowboys made him their second-rounder in 2011. He had five sacks and five interceptions.
▪ Escobar, the second-round pick in 2013, has seen his playing time on offense diminish. He played two offensive snaps Sunday against the Browns, though he did get his first target, his first catch and his first touchdown of the season. He has six career starts, with 27 catches for 305 yards and eight touchdowns. In the final year of his contract, Escobar is expected to leave as a free agent.
▪ Lawrence, the second-round pick in 2014, had three one-game suspensions during his career at Boise State. The NFL suspended him for the first four games of this season for violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. He has started 13 games in his career with eight sacks and 71 tackles.
▪ Gregory failed two drug tests at Nebraska and another at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2015, dropping his draft stock. The Cowboys made him a second-round pick, and he had no sacks as a rookie last season. He is serving a four- and 10-game suspensions for violations of the league’s substance abuse policy making him ineligible to play before Week 16.
▪ Smith tore the ACL and LCL in his left knee in a Jan. 1 bowl game. Nerve damage in the knee likely makes this a redshirt rookie season, though the Cowboys have not ruled out a return at some point this season.
“Obviously, Randy has some serious things that he has to tend to before he can worry about being a great player on the field,” Stephen Jones said. “DeMarcus Lawrence has been a good player for us. He has certainly some injury issues that he’s working through, but he certainly has a chance and hopefully his suspension is in the past. And he’s out here productive for us right now. But we’ll see.”