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Drafts Helped Cowboys Shoot Past Packers

The Dallas Cowboys are 6-2 while the Green Bay Packers are 3-6 entering Sunday’s game at Lambeau Field. It’s not hard to see why.
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers are like a couple bullet trains racing in opposite directions.

The Packers have lost five consecutive games to fall to 3-6. A team that’s used to playing critical games in November and December to make a push for January, their playoff hopes practically died on the first Sunday of November with a loss to the woeful Detroit Lions

The Cowboys have won six of their last seven games – their lone loss to the undefeated Eagles – and will take a 6-2 record into Sunday’s game. Coach Mike McCarthy, fired by the Packers with four games remaining in the 2018 season, will lead a legit Super Bowl contender into his return to Lambeau Field.

The Packers’ fall was startling and abrupt, not unlike Wile E. Coyote wandering off a cliff and levitating for a moment before realizing he was no longer on terra firma.

There are a lot of reasons, including trading and failing to adequately replace Davante Adams, mistakes by Aaron Rodgers and underwhelming play by a hyped defense. The drafts from the last five years play a role, too. Here is a look at those drafts, followed by some bottom-line findings.


Running the show for the first time, Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst drafted 11 players. Only Jaire Alexander, an elite cornerback, remains. Of the other 10, none are with the Packers and most are out of the NFL altogether. The only other quality pick was receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling in the fifth round; he’s averaging 16.6 yards per catch for the Chiefs this year. Second-round cornerback Josh Jackson, third-round linebacker Oren Burks and fourth-round receiver J’Mon Moore were enormous misses.

The Cowboys drafted nine players. Four remain on the team and all of them are listed as starters for Sunday’s game: first-round linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, third-round receiver Michael Gallup, fourth-round defensive end Dorance Armstrong and fourth-round tight end Dalton Schultz.


The Packers drafted eight players. Only three remain, though they’re all starters: first-round outside linebacker Rashan Gary, first-round safety Darnell Savage and second-round guard Elgton Jenkins. None of the final five selections, including third-round tight end Jace Sternberger, are on a 53-man roster.

The Cowboys also drafted eight players. Three remain on the team: starting guard Connor McGovern in the third round, explosive running back Tony Pollard in the fourth round and starting safety and tackles leader Donovan Wilson in the sixth. They recently released their second-round pick, defensive tackle Trysten Hill.


The Packers drafted nine players, led by quarterback Jordan Love, the supposed hand-picked successor to Aaron Rodgers. Six players remain, with sixth-rounder guard Jon Runyan being the only starter. Of the five backups, only second-round running back AJ Dillon has made much of an impact but he’s had a disappointing third season.

While the Packers failed to get a single high-impact performer, the Cowboys had a franchise-altering draft. Their seven draft picks included standout receiver CeeDee Lamb in the first round, big-play cornerback Trevon Diggs in the second round and starting center Tyler Biadasz in the fourth round.


The Packers drafted nine players, with cornerback Eric Stokes in the first round and center Josh Myers in the second round being starters. Stokes had an excellent rookie season but regressed and Myers has been OK. Eight players remain, though third-round receiver Amari Rodgers has struggled to get snaps and fourth-round guard Royce Newman was benched.

The Cowboys drafted 11 players, with No. 12 overall pick Micah Parsons wasting no time in becoming one of the NFL’s elite defenders. While second-round cornerback Kelvin Joseph and third-year defensive end Chauncey Golston look like busts, two defensive linemen – Osa Odighizuwa in the third round and Quinton Bohanna in the sixth – are starters. All 11 remain on the roster.


It’s obviously too early to call the 2022 draft good, bad or anything in between.

All 11 players remain from Green Bay’s draft class. First-round linebacker Quay Walker and fourth-round receiver Romeo Doubs are starters, and injuries have thrust fourth-round lineman Zach Tom and fifth-round outside linebacker Kingsley Enagbare into major roles. Three consecutive picks – first-round defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt (depth and performance), second-round receiver Christian Watson (injuries) and third-round guard Sean Rhyan (performance) have received little or no playing time.

Of Dallas’ nine picks, eight remain on the team. The first-round pick, Tyler Smith, has been thrust into the lineup at left tackle in place of injured star Tyron Smith. Second-round defensive end Sam Williams has shown some juice as a pass rusher but third-round receiver Jalen Tolbert has been buried on the bench. Sixth-round corner DaRon Bland could get a lot of action in the slot on Sunday.

Bottom line

Over the last five years, Gutekunst has drafted 48 players. Of that group, 30 remain on the roster (62.5 percent). Eight are starters and two have been selected for a Pro Bowl. Over the course of their careers, they have combined to score 33 touchdowns, intercept 17 passes and produce 40.5 sacks.

Over the last five drafts, the Cowboys have selected 46 players. Thirty remain on the roster (65.2 percent), so not an enormous difference vs. Green Bay. However, 13 are starters and four have been selected for Pro Bowls. They have combined to score 69 touchdowns, intercept 24 passes and record 57.5 sacks. Those players were a big reason why the Cowboys went 4-1 with Cooper Rush starting for injured Dak Prescott.

Obviously, the odds favor lesser teams, like the Cowboys had been, in drafting players like Parsons and Lamb. They were long gone when it was Green Bay’s time to pick.

Green Bay’s history in the third round is appalling. Deguara is a solid role player but the Packers haven’t landed a difference-maker in the third since Morgan Burnett in 2010. The Cowboys didn’t hit any home runs but at least Odighizuwa, Gallup and McGovern are starters.

For teams with a draft-and-develop philosophy to team-building, the draft is the lifeblood. The Packers haven’t drafted a high-quality starter since Rashan Gary in 2019. For the Packers to rebound in future years, they’ll need the Class of 2022 to reach its potential and knock it out of the park with what could be a top-10 pick in 2023.

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