Busting Jerry’s Bubble: Dallas’ Biggest Draft Busts
America’s team occasionally makes some all-American flops. While we think of the Cowboy’s as an A-List franchise with stunning vision and a bankroll that usually makes that vision a reality, “The Boys” get it wrong from time to time. Very wrong, occasionally. Although the Cowboys claim legends like Troy Aikman, Roger Staubach, and Emmitt Smith among their franchise headliners, they’ve also fired some blanks on draft day.
With Jerry Jones exercising nearly complete control of his beloved franchise, we don’t have to look very far to assign the blame. Really, Jerry? Can you not let your coaches coach and your front office manage? Bringing in cronies to manage the team’s affairs doesn’t help either. Without critical voices to provide a “check” to the all-powerful owner’s decision making, the entire franchise becomes mired in uncertainty and peril.
What you’ll find below is not a list of superlatives. These are the misses, Cowboy draft picks that never met expectations and never made good on their salaries. Are these guys losers? By no means. Are they worth the hype and the millions of dollars in signing bonuses they received? Absolutely not.
The good news? Every franchise has the opportunity to learn from the gaffes and retool for the future. Certainly Jerry and crew have the insight to learn from their missteps and step in a different direction.
Shante Carver – 1994 — No. 23 overall in the First Round
Shante Carver, an Arizona State stud, was a first-round pick in the 1994 draft and arrived in “Big D” with an impressive resume and a lot of presumed upside. Big and fast, Carver was expected to contribute mightily to what was already considered a powerful, disruptive defensive line. In nearly four lackluster years in the trenches for Dallas, Shante managed a paltry 11.5 sacks and couldn’t force a single fumble. With no push and less heart, Carver couldn’t tap the full potential of his considerable talent.
When Mr. Bust was released by the Cowboys in 1997, he slid over to Memphis hoping to collect some cabbage with the XFL’s Maniax. Adding insult to Dallas’ draft day injury, Carver signed a contract with the Arena Football League’s Dallas Desperados in 2001. Finally, the big man was able to make a meaningful contribution to a Dallas franchise. While Carver laughed with every trip to the bank, Dallas regretted the draft shortsightedness for over a decade. Do over, please?
Morris Claiborne – 2012 – No. 6 overall in the First Round
Before we rip into Claiborne’s obvious production problems, let’s acknowledge the obvious. This guy has endured some catastrophic injuries. Not long into the 2014 campaign, Claiborne tore a patellar tendon, rendering him useless for the final months of the season. Compounding the significant injury were a host of festering dings and dents that refused to heal soundly. Continuing to rehab well into the 2015 summer training regimen, Morris continues to keep the front office leery of signing the cornerback to any sort of contract extension.
In the rare spots in which Claiborne has been healthy enough to play for the Cowboys, his production has never reached the expectations of a first round selection. Given the mantel of “starter” as a rookie, Claiborne should remain on the bench. In his three professional seasons, Claiborne’s only tallied 3 interceptions and 18 broken passes. And do you remember what the Cowboys gave up for this guy? A second rounder, a boat of cash, and many hours of sleep. Don’t expect the Boys to re-sign Claiborne when his contract expires.