The Dallas Cowboys know how to draft players who will end up playing for them better than just about anyone.
One thing the Dallas Cowboys have done better than any NFL team out there is drafting, developing and retaining their homegrown players.
Warren Sharp obtained the total number of snaps played by each player on the team who drafted him over the last five years. The results are interesting to somewhat staggering, but I don’t think they really tell the tale of what it takes to field a good football team professionally. At the top of the list, the Cowboys got 91,901 snaps out of players they had drafted and developed previously.
The Minnesota Vikings, the Baltimore Ravens, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Atlanta Falcons all rounded out the top five.
At the bottom of the league, we are looking at the Las Vegas Raiders, the New York Jets and the Los Angeles Rams.
Is there any validity to this? What does the data Sharp collected actually have to do with anything?
Dallas Cowboys draft, develop and retain their own players better than anyone
Truth be told, I don’t think there is really much of a correlation you can draw from this data other than understanding how certain teams are built. We have good, bad and downright ugly teams at both ends of the spectrum. Again, every team is different. What isn’t different is every team has the same amount of resources to allocate by means of a hard salary cap, outlined by the CBA.
For teams that are up there with the Cowboys in terms of getting the most amount of snaps out of homegrown players, it signifies three things: An importance on drafting players who can start for you, choosing to re-sign your own players in free agency or possibly finding yourself in salary cap hell. Basically, being higher up on this list means your front office is not down with the yard sales.
Should a team be lower on this list, it also indicates one of three things: You stink at drafting players, you have undergone a major regime change of late or your team does not really care all that much about the draft. Teams that live to yard sale typically struggle at initial talent evaluation and consistently waste draft capital. Of course, there are the f**k them picks teams like the Rams.
So can we really gain anything from this? I think it means a team did more good than bad between five and 10 years ago, to be honest. In that five-year span, a team needed to crush it in those five drafts and get enough productivity out of those players to merit them getting second, and potentially third, contracts. Of course, retaining everyone will keep a team from getting to the top.
For those keeping score at home, I think this is something the teams in the top five all have in common. Simply put, you’re drafting guys like Dak Prescott, playing them early and paying them handsomely when the time comes. He was a fourth-round pick out of Mississippi State for a reason, but he can play. However, there is a definite ceiling with him. He is only a top 10 passer.
Ultimately, I think the upper crust of this list is where teams get into trouble. When you end up paying good players great money because they are homegrown, you are artificially inflating their markets. You may love a guy and what he brings to the franchise, but you would be foolish to think that this team-building philosophy has not held teams like the Cowboys, Vikings and Falcons back.
After winning the Super Bowl, the Buccaneers shamelessly ran it back and were markedly worse.