Dallas Cowboys 2017 NFL Draft Retrospective

(Max Faulkner/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
(Max Faulkner/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Tribune News Service via Getty Images) /

How should the Dallas Cowboys feel about their 2017 NFL Draft class after three years? We take a deep dive into it.

The Dallas Cowboys entered the 2017 season rejuvenated by a legendary draft class. The previous year, the Cowboys were able to land several franchise-altering rookies in quarterback Dak Prescott, running back Ezekiel Elliott, and linebacker Jaylon Smith.

In 2017, the Cowboys also opted to rebuild their secondary, parting ways with longtime starters in cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne plus safety Barry Church. Dallas would use the 2017 NFL Draft to fill many of these defensive needs.

Original Grade

FanSided: B

"“The Cowboys needed a pass rush in the worst kind of way. In an on the field point of view, Taco Charlton profiles similarly to a player such as Greg Hardy, that the Cowboys swung and missed on due to outside reasons. Now with four pass rushers in Charlton, Demarcus Lawrence, David Irving and Tyrone Crawford they have four defensive ends who can rotate at times in rushing the passer. Charlton has the highest ceiling of the bunch and due to the need is a great pick at this point.”"

Draft Class

Round 1 (No. 28)

811. . DE. Wolverines . Taco Charlton. 1. player

CURRENT TEAM: Miami Dolphins

The Dallas Cowboys had a difficult choice to make when their number was called in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. The Cowboys had a choice between two pass rushers, Michigan’s Vidauntae “Taco” Charlton and Wisconsin’s T.J. Watt.

They chose poorly.

Despite having a second-round grade on Charlton, the Cowboys elected to chose him over Watt as the former Wolverine was deemed to be a better scheme fit even if he was regarded as a developmental player.

Round 2 (No. 60)

CB. Buffaloes . Chidobe Awuzie. 2. player. 857.

CURRENT TEAM: Dallas Cowboys

With the exodus of Carr and Claiborne, the selection of Chidobe Awuzie meant he was penciled in as an instant starter at outside corner as a rookie. Unfortunately, hamstring and ankle injuries limited Awuzie to just 10 games in 2017.

But Awuize would finish out that first year strong, starting in the Cowboys’ final five games and posting 25 total tackles, seven passes defended, an interception, and forcing a fumble. The young defender would go on to start in 32 of a possible 34 games the next two seasons including the team’s two playoff games at the end of the 2018 season.

Round 3 (No. 92)

811. . CB. Wolverines . Jourdan Lewis. 3. player

CURRENT TEAM: Dallas Cowboys

After a stellar rookie season, cornerback Jourdan Lewis suffered a setback in Dallas. And it had little to do with his play on the field. Lewis was initially considered the best rookie to come out of this draft class for the Cowboys in 2017. Starting in a career-high seven games, the aggressive first-year defender recorded 54 combined tackles, 10 pass defends, and an interception.

But 2018 began with the hiring of former Seattle Seahawks’ Legion of Boom defensive coordinator, Kris Richard, in Dallas. As the team’s new defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator, Richard’s preference for much taller corners resulted in 5-foot-10, 195-pound Lewis seeing fewer opportunities to play with his defensive snaps falling from 746 snaps as a rookie to a mere 187 snaps in his second season.

Round 4 (No. 133)

WR. Tar Heels . Ryan Switzer. 4. player. 838.

CURRENT TEAM: Pittsburgh Steelers

One of only two offensive players to be selected by the Cowboys in this draft class, wide receiver Ryan Switzer‘s ability as a special teams returner figured to be more impactful initially as the team already had veteran Cole Beasley cemented at slot receiver.

Although Switzer showed early signs that he could eventually become Beasley’s successor, the Cowboys coaching staff seemed to run out of patience quickly. In what would turn out to be his lone season in Dallas, the 5-foot-8, 185-pound receiver would return 24 kickoffs, averaging 25.0 per return, with 16 returns over 20 yards.

After his rookie season in Dallas, Switzer would be traded to the Oakland Raiders for former second-round defensive tackle Jihad Ward. Later that year, the Raiders would end up trading him again, this time to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Round 6 (No. 191) 

2119. . S. Bulldogs . Xavier Woods. 5. player

CURRENT TEAM: Dallas Cowboys

In what might go down as one of the top draft steals in franchise history, the Cowboys landed a 33-game starter in safety Xavier Woods in the sixth round. Of course, that could also speak to the team’s overall lack of talent at the safety position.

Woods has proven to be the Cowboys’ most consistent playmaker in the secondary recording five interceptions in his first three years in Dallas, tying him for the team-lead in picks the last two seasons. The 24-year old safety is coming off his best year yet, posting 77 total tackles,
five passes defended, two interceptions, and forcing two fumbles in 2019.

Round 6 (No. 216)

Seminoles . Marquez White. 6. player. 804. . CB

CURRENT TEAM: St. Louis Battlehawks (XFL)

A developmental cornerback with good size (6-0, 190), Marquez White spent his only season in Dallas on the team’s practice squad. He was released before the start of his second season and has yet to return to the NFL.

Round 7 (No. 228)

. DT. Gators . Joey Ivie. 7. player. 840

CURRENT TEAM: Tennessee Titans

The first of two seventh-round fliers that ultimately didn’t pan out in Dallas, defensive tackle Joey Ivie couldn’t make it through the Cowboys’ final roster cut his rookie season. The seventh-rounder would soon be added to the Atlanta Falcons practice squad. This past season, Ivie played five games with the Kansas City Chiefs before being waived and landing with the Tennessee Titans.

Round 7 (No. 239)

8. player. 812. . WR. Buckeyes . Noah Brown

CURRENT TEAM: Dallas Cowboys

It’s rare when a seventh-round selection is able to make a contribution in his first season, much less stick with his drafted squad for three seasons. But Noah Brown has done so in Dallas. The 6-foot-2, 222-pound receiver really makes his bones as a run-blocker. Brown played in 13 games as a rookie splitting time as the sixth-wide receiver on the depth chart and on special teams. The fact he landed on Injured Reserved with a knee injury last year combined with a recent regime change in Dallas puts his future with the Cowboys in jeopardy.

Round 6 (No. 203)

857. . DT. Buffaloes . Jordan Carrell. 9. player


The Cowboys used their final selection in the 2017 NFL Draft on a developmental project out of Colorado in defensive tackle Jordan Carrell. Unfortunately, Carroll would never play a meaning down for Dallas, not making it past final cuts after recording four total tackles in four preseason appearances. He has yet to resurface on an NFL roster.

Retrospective Grade:

. . Dallas Cowboys. 2020 RETROSPECTIVE GRADE. C+

Bottom Line:

It’s said that you shouldn’t judge a draft class until three years out. And in doing so, the Cowboys would have to admit they made some big mistakes here. The decision to draft Taco Charlton over T.J. Watt with their first-round selection still haunts them to this day and will have a negative ripple effect for years to come.

If the first-round selection alone dictated the success of a draft class, the Dallas Cowboys would receive a failing grade for their choices during the 2017 NFL Draft. The impact that whiffing on defensive end Taco Charlton is only magnified by the fact the team missed out on adding a playmaker like T.J. Watt to their roster instead.

The book is still out on the futures of players like Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Xavier Woods. But the fact none of the three have lived up to expectations on an underperforming secondary will likely mean history will not look back kindly on this particular Cowboys’ draft class.

by Steven Mullenax

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