Hindsight is 20/20.  That’s especially true when it comes to the NFL Draft.

The biggest problems the Cowboys have right now can be laid right at the feet of their 2009 draft.  It was arguably the worst draft in the history of the franchise.

On second thought, there’s no argument.  It is the worst.  They had 12 draft picks.  Four years later, a grand total of zero of them are still on the team.  Six of the picks didn’t even make the team in 2009.

When the Cowboys have failed in recent drafts, it’s when they have made selections based strictly on need.  That’s obviously what they did in 2009.  They had aging inside linebackers in Keith Brooking and Bradie James.  They wanted outside linebackers to back up Demarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer.  They needed to find a young safety to develop.  So, they pepper sprayed the mid to late rounds with that in mind, taking 7 LBs and DBS among their 12 picks.

Granted, overall, the 2009 NFL Draft was ridiculously bereft of quality prospects.  However, upon further review, there were players to be had.

To review, the Cowboys did not have a 1st round draft pick.  It was dealt, along with 3rd and 6th round picks, to Detroit for wide receiver Roy Williams.  That was the first colossal mistake.

The second huge error was trading down from the #51 spot in the 2nd round.  All told, the team was left with 12 draft picks:  two in the 3rd round, three in the 4th round, three in the 5th round, two in the 6th round, and two in the 7th round.

So, with perfect 20/20 hindsight, here’s what might have been:

2nd Round – #51:

Cowboys traded pick to Buffalo for a 3rd round pick (OT Robert Brewster, who didn’t make the 53 man roster) and a 4th round pick (Victor Butler).

With pick #51, Buffalo selected OG Andy Levitre, who just signed a 6 year, $47 million contract with Tennessee.

Had they stayed at 51 and selected an offensive lineman, the Cowboys could have chosen between Levitre (#51 – BUF – 64 starts), OT Phil Loadholt (#54 – MIN – 63 starts), OT Sebastian Vollmer (#58 – NE – 44 starts), or OT Will Beatty (#60 – NYG – 31 starts).

20/20 Hindsight Pick:  OT PHIL LOADHOLT

3rd Round – #69:

Cowboys pick: LB Jason Williams, Western Illinois (10 games – 6 tackles – cut in 2010)

20/20 Hindsight Pick:  OG LOUIS VASQUEZ (#78 – SD – 54 starts – just signed a 4 year, $23.5 million contract with Denver)

4th Round – #101:

Cowboys pick: QB Stephen McGee, Texas A&M (3 games – 1 start – cut in 2012)

20/20 Hindsight Pick:  S GLOVER QUIN (#112 – HOU – 60 starts – just signed a 5 year, #23.5 million contract with Detroit)

4th Round – #120:

Cowboys pick: LB/DE Brandon Williams, Texas Tech (6 games – 4 tackles – cut in 2010)

20/20 Hindsight Pick:  WR AUSTIN COLLIE (#127 – IND – 42 games, 16 starts – 173 receptions, 16 TDs)

5th Round – #143:

Cowboys Pick: CB/S DeAngelo Smith, Cincinnati (did not make team)

20/20 Hindsight Pick:  TE/FB JAMES CASEY (#152 – HOU – 61 games, 20 starts – 66 receptions, 4 TDs – just signed 3 year, $12 million contract with Philadelphia)

5th Round – #166:

Cowboys Pick:  S Michael Hamlin, Clemson (8 games, cut in 2010)

20/20 Hindsight Pick: OG MATT SLAUSON (#193 – NYJ – 48 starts)

5th Round – #172:

Cowboys Pick:  K David Buehler, USC (36 games, cut in 2011)

20/20 Hindsight Pick:  CB JASON McCOURTY (#203 – TEN – 40 starts – 8 INTs)

6th Round – #197:

Cowboys Pick:  LB Stephen Hodge, TCU (did not make team)

20/20 Hindsight Pick:  CB CAPTAIN MUNNERLYN (#216 – CAR – 34 starts – 5 INTs)

6th Round – #208:

Cowboys Pick:  TE John Phillips, Virginia (48 games – 20 starts – 30 receptions – just signed 3 years, $7.25 million contract with San Diego)

20/20 Hindsight Pick:  LB BRAD JONES (51 games – 23 starts – 7 sacks)

7th Round – #227:

Cowboys Pick:  CB Mike Mickens, Cincinnati (did not make team)

20/20 Hindsight Pick:  WR JULIAN EDELMAN (#232 – NE – 48 games, 13 starts, 69 receptions, 4 TDs)

7th Round – #229:

Cowboys Pick:  WR Manuel Johnson, Oklahoma (2 games, 1 reception, cut in 2010)

20/20 Hindsight Pick:  K RYAN SUCCOP (#256 – KC – 63 games – 5 year contract extension)

So, 20/20 hindsight provides the Cowboys with three offensive linemen in the 2009 draft – tackle Phil Loadholt, guard Louis Vasquez, and guard Matt Slauson – three players who have combined for 165 starts in their four year careers so far.  It wouldn’t have totally answered the Cowboys current offensive line predicament.  However, the team would have been much better equipped to handle the ensuing departures of aging veterans Flozell Adams (2010), Andre Gurode (2011), Leonard Davis (2011), Marc Colombo (2011), and Kyle Kosier (2012).

In all, after pick #50 in the 2009 NFL Draft, there were 11 offensive linemen drafted who have started at least 20 games in the first four years of their careers.  The Cowboys could have picked any of them.  Instead, they drafted only one offensive lineman, a 3rd round selection, who appeared in only one game in his brief NFL career.

It should be noted that most teams only hit on about half of their draft picks each year, and that’s been the going rate for the Cowboys since 2009. That includes key contributors like Dez Bryant, Sean Lee, Sean Lissemore, Tyron Smith, Bruce Carter, Demarco Murray, Dwayne Harris, Mo Claiborne, Tyrone Crawford, and James Hanna the past three years.

Four years later, the Cowboys are on the road to recovery as they seem to have learned their lessons from the 20/20 Hindsight Autopsy of the worst draft in franchise history.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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