May 20, 2022

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Bleacher Report thinks this Cowboys DE was worst…

4 min read
Bleacher Report thinks this Cowboys DE was worst...

It’s NFL Draft season and teams across the league are preparing to make some very important decisions. The harsh reality is that no matter how much research and digging teams do, every organization will have surprisingly great picks and bust picks. The Dallas Cowboys are no exception. An undrafted player can become a Pro Bowler and a first or second-rounder can be worse than expected. It happens. This year, we hope the Cowboys don’t make any of those mistakes and learn from the past.

Bleacher Report recently released a list of every NFL team’s worst draft pick of the last five years. Who was selected for Dallas? Former Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton. Charlton was the 28th overall pick by the Cowboys in the 2017 NFL Draft. The former Wolverine had an impressive senior season tallying 40 total tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, and 10.0 sacks. These facts led Rod Marinelli, the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator at the time, to pull hard for the defensive end over other available players.

The 6-6, 270-pound rookie had 13 starts with the Cowboys in 2017 and 2018 before being released. He never really hit his stride with Dallas. He initially began as a backup behind DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford. In 2018, he earned a starting job, but a shoulder injury sidelined him, and he never earned back a starting job. the DE finished 2018 with just one sack. Ironically, Marinelli (the person who fought so hard for him) was one of his issues. The two apparently didn’t get along very well. In 2019, Charlton was listed as inactive for the first two games before being released in September.

Since leaving Dallas, Charlton has played with the Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs, and Pittsburgh Steelers. He did improve to 5.0 sacks in 10 games with Miami, but they waved him in 2020. With the Chiefs and Steelers, the DE totaled 2.5 sacks, nine pressures, and 25 total tackles. The Michigan product signed a one-year deal with the New Orleans Saints this offseason. Despite his lack of performance, the worst part about drafting Charlton was that 2021’s Defensive Player of the Year, T.J. Watt, was still on the board when Dallas chose Charlton in 2017. Bleacher Report somehow didn’t even mention that.

The Dallas Cowboys had a major draft fail when they chose Taco Charlton over T.J. Watt in the 2017 NFL Draft

To be fair, hindsight is always 20/20. There was no way to know that Watt would go on to be a Pro Bowler and award winner. However, according to Ed Werder, Watt thought he was going to the Cowboys. Watt had an official pre-draft visit to Dallas and was on a call with Dallas when they were on the clock. In fact, the man who gave Micah Parsons a run for his money this year was so sure he was going to America’s Team that a family member plopped a Cowboys hat on his head before he realized Mike Tomlin was the one calling him.

Instead, the Wisconsin product would head to Pittsburgh, where he has been arguably their best player on either side of the ball. Watt has collected 72 sacks, 294 tackles, 80 TFLs, and 150 QB hits – stats that make the Charlton selection hurt even more.

In 2020, Cowboys EVP Stephen Jones was asked about the situation. For once, the man actually admitted the team made a poor decision (although he did mostly blame Marinelli). Here’s a quote from Jones in 2020:

“The harder part of that is [Watt] was in serious contention. I think the biggest issue was we were playing a 4-3 there with Rod, and Rod was concerned about how he’d hold up against the run in the 4-3. [He] didn’t have that same concern with Taco. Obviously, if you had that to do all over again, I wish we would have done that, and, of course, he would fit in probably better in some of the things we’re trying to do now with coach Nolan and our defense. So, you know, he’s obviously a great player. He’s already on his way to a great career, not unlike his brother, and congratulate the Steelers for getting him.”

With an already frustrating offseason underway, the Cowboys cannot afford to make a similar mistake this time around.

Bleacher Report thinks this Cowboys DE was worst recent draft pick