The 2009 draft, a term that is a gut punch to most Cowboys fans, as it represents part of the giant hole in the roster that should be constituted of 25 and 26-year olds, like Phillips, who would be doing much of the heavy lifting for an organization. Players who you would be fighting to retain and pay for the prime of their careers from ages 26-30.
This, of course, is one of the maddening facts about the Cowboys roster. One has a fantastic collection of players who are over 30 - one of the best in the league, actually - and a fine collection of players who are from the 2010-2012 drafts, too. But, those years at the end of the last decade have caused the Cowboys to struggle on the field and then have to overpay players in their 30s to squeeze every last ounce of their abilities out before they retire.
There is that staggering gap in the Cowboys roster. Much can be traced to the 2009 draft and the Roy Williams trade that preceded it. People often ask, "why can't you let that go?" They want to know why you beat a dead horse. Why do you still talk about a trade from 5 seasons ago?
Simple. Trades that happen 5 years ago have a profound impact on what you are able to do in 2013 and 2014. Why? Because, those picks that you give away in 2008 for the 2009 draft should be the heart and soul of your team in 2013.
And it if isn't? Then, you have cap issues and holes on your roster that you cannot afford to fix.
In general, the 2009 draft isn't very good. There are a few teams that found significant upgrades in that draft - for instance, Green Bay grabbed BJ Raji, Clay Matthews, and TJ Lang in their 1st 3 picks, Philadelphia found Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy with their top 2 selections - but, for the most part, '09 will not go down in the history books as one of the ripest orchards for talent.
That being said, the Cowboys lack of production from their picks is shockingly sad. Here are the 12 picks and beside their names, fine the career snaps in which they lined up as Cowboys. TOTAL.
|Name - Round||Career Snaps in Dallas|
|Jason Williams - 3rd||14|
|Robert Brewster - 3rd||0|
|Stephen McGee - 4th||175|
|Victor Butler - 4th||814|
|Brandon Williams - 4th||0|
|DeAngelo Smith - 5th||0|
|Michael Hamlin - 5th||17|
|David Buehler - 5th||0 (kicker)|
|Stephen Hodge - 6th||0|
|John Phillips - 6th||873|
|Mike Mickens - 7th||0|
|Manuel Johnson - 7th||42|
As a comparison, the 2012 class is already at 1,582 snaps in just 1 season. And even that number needs to be higher. But, the signs are there that you might have 4 starters from 2012 when it all shakes out. 2009? There was never 1 starter for even 1 moment that wasn't an emergency fill-in for injury.
Just know that each game has about 60-65 snaps from scrimmage on both sides of the ball. With 11 players on each side of the ball, that is about 660 snaps per game that has to be filled - or 10,560 per season for the offense and another 10,560 on average for the defense.
If you need 21,120 snaps to be taken by your team each year, you better get more than 1,935 from an entire draft class for their entire career.
One stat that might hurt is that a regular from that draft - Clay Matthews (one of several players that were available to the Cowboys if they held their pick #20 instead of Detroit) has played 3,957 regular season snaps since that draft by himself.
Also, please don't blame the entire 2009 draft disaster on the Roy Williams trade. The Cowboys twice traded back to "accumulate picks" and each time they found nothing. They were at #51 and decided to trade back for #75 (Robert Brewster) and #110 (Victor Butler). Players taken from #51-#58 include Andy Levitre, LeSean McCoy, Phil Loadholt, William Moore, Paul Kruger, and Sebastian Vollmer. Or, in other words, most all of the top free agents in this free agency season. Then, at #117, they bolted back for #120 (Brandon Williams) and #229 (Manuel Johnson).
They also traded up with picks #155 and #213 to go get #143. They found a guy they wanted in DeAngelo Smith who never played a snap with the team. You certainly hate to waste 2 picks on a guy who doesn't even make your team for one week. His claim to fame as my friend Todd Archer recalls was that he was the guy that David Buehler beat in the 40 yard dash at training camp. Anytime your kicker beats a DB in a race means you have a fast kicker or a slow defensive back...or both.
The book is closed on the 2009 draft. They will be remembered for 2 things - their heroic efforts in dragging many men to safety in the infamous practice facility collapse in May of 2009 at their initial rookie camp and being part of a draft class that sadly did not amount to much of anything on the roster for years to come.
Phillips was a blocking tight end and Victor Butler a rarely used situational pass rusher. McGee was a project QB who never developed properly. The rest never even made a dent at all.
And now, the roster has voids. Too many to fill.
That is why the dead horse continues to be beaten. 2008 has 1 survivor in Orlando Scandrick and 2010 is down to 3. So, from 2008-2010, with 24 selections, the Cowboys retain 4 players total from a group that should be between 24-27 years old or the prime of a franchise.
This is why we emphasize the draft in this space. It is the very life-blood of a franchise. Or the death of it.