Ranking The Dallas Cowboys’ First Round Draft Picks From The Past 20 Years

Ranking The Dallas Cowboys’ First Round Draft Picks From The Past 20 Years

Ferraris, Rolex watches, and seven figure homes. Welcome to the lavish Lifestyle. This slogan should be plastered all around the NFL Draft. The amount of money that NFL organizations hand out to rookies fresh of the college gridiron is absurd. Many of these players are only 20 years old and the second they hear Roger Goodell call out their name on that brightly lit stage, they immediately know that they can soon bathe in sweet green cash, if they so wish. Do not get me wrong, I do not have an issue with players being compensated for working extremely hard, but it is just mind-blowing that such young, unproven players can be handed paychecks with such monumental values.

Even though I am a die hard Philadelphia Eagles fan, I am able to recognize when the arch-enemy has made a strategic move. For that reason, I have studied the Dallas Cowboys’ last 20 moves made in the first-round of the NFL Draft. Even though as a fan I have no control over how the Eagles pick their players and how they decide to scout the Cowboys players, I still enjoy having the knowledge of who could turn out to be an Eagle killer, who I am, for sure, going to boo the loudest and the most, and who I am going to have to hide my eyes from every time they touch the pigskin.

Here are the Cowboys’ first round picks of the past 20 years, ranked from worst to best.


Shante Carver was drafted 23rd overall in the 1994 NFL Draft. He was a defensive end for the Dallas Cowboys who played college football at Arizona State University. While Carver won a Super Bowl (Super Bowl XXX), as a professional football player, he did not play a very large role in that championship season.

Over the course of his four year NFL career, Carver only participated in 52 games (26 starts). In those 52 games, he recorded 11.5 sacks and 1 fumble recovery. At the time of his drafting, Carver looked like a steal. He was a two-time All-American while at Arizona State and had the build to be a great player (6’5”, 253 pounds).

After failing as an NFL player, Carver moved onto a four-year career in Arena League Football.


David LaFleur was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys out of Louisiana State University in the first round of the 1997 NFL Draft (22nd overall). A third-team All-American while in college, LaFleur was never quite able to translate his college successes to the pros.

In his 80 career games with the Dallas Cowboys (and in the NFL), LaFleur put up 85 receptions, 729 yards, and 12 touchdowns. The majority of those touchdowns came in 1999, when he recorded seven. It is even more surprising that LaFleur was unable to be more successful when you find out that Hall of Famer Troy Aikman was his quarterback.

While LaFleur was not very successful on the field, the Cowboys still had wanted to keep him when they cut him in 2001. Unfortunately for LaFleur, football had taken a major toll on his body and he developed very bad back issues. In training camp of the 2001 season, the Cowboys were forced to cut him from the roster when he failed the mandatory physical.


Bobby Carpenter was drafted 18th overall in the 2006 NFL Draft. He played his college football at Ohio State University. In his eight seasons as an NFL Linebacker, Carpenter played in a total of 93 games, recording 167 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 1 touchdown and 1 interception.

While Carpenter enjoyed a long career, he was never worth a first-round pick. The Cowboys reached with this pick when they had a clear need at the linebacker position and it did not turn out well. It was surprising when the Cowboys selected him in the first-round given that he had only started 26 games in his four-year college football career, and he was coming off of a broken fibula. Carpenter only ended up playing four seasons for the Cowboys, none of which were useful.


Felix Jones was drafted 22nd overall in the 2008 NFL Draft. He played his college football at the University of Arkansas, where he saw great success. In his three seasons as a Razorback, Jones scored 27 touchdowns and had amassed a total of 5,081 scrimmage yards.

While in the NFL, Jones did not see nearly as much success. In his six NFL seasons, he only was able to amass 6,185 total yards from scrimmage. That is not even close to the same number on a per year basis as his time in college.

During his time in the NFL, Jones played for the Dallas Cowboys (five years) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (one year). In that span, he totaled the number of yards listed above and scored 15 total touchdowns. As a running back in the NFL, Jones was just not effective enough to warrant a spot on another team after he was released by the Pittsburgh Steelers following the 2013 season.


Marcus Spears was drafted 20th overall in the 2005 NFL Draft. After growing up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Spears decided stay very close to home and play his college football for the Louisiana State University Tigers. At LSU, Spears was a two-time SEC Champion, a one-time Consensus All-American, a two-time First-team All-SEC, and a member of the 2003 BCS National Champion, Nick Saban led, LSU Tigers.

After being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 2005, Spears never really was able to translate his great success in college onto the field in the pros. While he was able to play nine seasons in the NFL, he was never truly able to become anything great. Spears never made it to the Pro-Bowl and or received any NFL honors.

While he was a solid defensive end, his 236 tackles, 10 sacks, and 4 forced fumbles for his entire career were not enough to bump him any higher than 16th on this list.