Dallas Cowboys’ First-Round Picks Since 2000

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With the NFL Draft beginning Thursday night in Detroit, The Dallas Express looks at the Dallas Cowboys’ first-round pick history this millennium.

Here are the 21 players the team has drafted in the first round since 2000.

2023: Mazi Smith, Defensive Tackle, Michigan (26th overall)
Dallas’ most recent first-round selection played 304 snaps in 17 games as a rookie, starting three. He finished the year with 13 tackles and a sack.

2022: Tyler Smith, Offensive Line, Tulsa (24th overall)
Smith has found himself in a starting guard spot after two productive seasons as the Cowboys try to rebuild their once-dominant offensive line.

2021: Micah Parsons, Linebacker, Penn State (12th overall)
Parsons has become a star, winning Defensive Rookie of the Year, being named an All-Pro twice, and coming up with at least 13 sacks in all three of his NFL seasons.

2020: CeeDee Lamb, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma (17th overall)
Lamb has become a star in the NFL and is easily Dallas’ top receiver. He broke the Cowboy’s single-season record for receiving yards last season and has at least 1,000 receiving yards each of his last three seasons.

2019: none (traded to the Raiders for WR Amari Cooper)

2018: Leighton Vander Esch, Linebacker, Boise State (19th overall)
Vander Esch rose up draft boards because of a unique blend of size and speed for the position. He spent his entire six-year career with the team before injuries forced him to retire this offseason.

2017: Taco Charlton, Defensive End, Michigan (28th overall)
Charlton’s promise as a pass-rusher never panned out in the NFL. He lasted two seasons in Dallas and last played with Chicago in 2022 after bouncing around the league.

2016: Ezekiel Elliott, Running Back, Ohio State (4th overall)
The Cowboys took the rare first-round running back, selecting Elliott fourth overall. He went on to play seven years with the team and become the franchise’s third-leading rusher behind Tony Dorsett and Emmitt Smith. He is currently a free agent, and there have been some rumors of a reunion after a season in New England.

2015: Byron Jones, Defensive Back, UConn (27th overall)
Jones split time between corner and safety and came into his own as a cornerback during the later years of his Dallas tenure. The Miami Dolphins signed him to a big contract in free agency in 2020, but injuries soon ended his NFL career.

2014: Zack Martin, Guard, Notre Dame (16th overall)
Martin was a surprising selection at the time but has lived up to his potential and then some. The nine-time Pro Bowler has played 152 games, all starts, for Dallas in his career.

2013: Travis Frederick, Center, Wisconsin (31st overall)
The Cowboys still need to adequately replace the All-Pro center after an injury ended his career after six seasons with the team, five of which ended with him in the Pro Bowl.

2012: Morris Claiborne, Cornerback, LSU (6th overall)
Claiborne had two solid seasons but never reached the potential he had as a top-10 pick. He stayed in Dallas through the 2016-17 season before joining the Jets and the Kansas City Chiefs. He last played in the NFL in 2019.

2011: Tyron Smith, Offensive Tackle, USC (9th overall)
Smith has been a mainstay at left tackle for most of his career. He started 161 games over 13 seasons with the Cowboys before signing with the New York Jets as a free agent last month.

2010: Dez Bryant, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma State (24th overall)
Bryant was a superstar receiver for Dallas for eight years before suffering an Achilles injury. He missed both the 2018 and 2019 seasons and last played for the Baltimore Ravens in 2020.

2009: none (traded to Detroit for WR Roy Williams)

2008: Felix Jones, Running Back, Arkansas (22nd overall) and Mike Jenkins, Defensive Back, South Florida (25th overall)
Jones played five years with the Cowboys as the No.2 running back and one year with the Pittsburgh Steelers, while Jenkins had his best seasons with Dallas before brief stints in Oakland and Tampa to end his career.

2007: Anthony Spencer, Defensive End, Purdue (26th overall)
Spencer vaulted into the first round after a 10.5-sack season during his senior year at Purdue. He split time between defensive end and outside linebacker for the Cowboys and started 67 games across eight seasons, including an 11-sack Pro Bowl campaign in 2012.

2006: Bobby Carpenter, Linebacker, Ohio State (18th overall)
Carpenter was among the heralded Ohio State linebackers of 2000s college football, along with AJ Hawk, Anthony Schlegel, and James Laurinaitis. He never produced at the level expected and was out of the league after seven seasons, four of which were spent in Dallas.

2005: Demarcus Ware, Linebacker/Defensive End, Troy (11th overall) and Marcus Spears, Defensive Line, LSU (20th overall)
The Cowboys nailed the first round of the 2005 draft with now Hall-of-Famer Ware and starting defensive lineman Spears. Ware is now in the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor and among the league’s all-time leaders in sacks, while Spears started 89 games for the team and is now an analyst for ESPN.

2004: none (traded to Buffalo, who selected QB JP Losman)

2003: Terence Newman, Defensive Back, Kansas State (5th overall)
Newman became a staple in the Dallas secondary for nine years, intercepting 42 passes before playing the final six years of his career in Cincinnati and Minnesota.

2002: Roy Williams, Safety, Oklahoma (8th overall)
Williams was the other notable playmaker with Newman in the Dallas secondary. He made five Pro Bowls and finished in the top three for AP Defensive Player of the Year twice during seven seasons as the Cowboys’ free safety. He finished his career with two seasons in Cincinnati in 2009 and 2010.

2001: none (traded to Seattle for WR Joey Galloway)

2000: none (traded to Seattle for WR Joey Galloway)

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