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Top Five: Best And Worst DFW Draft Picks

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We select the best and the worst of the last 40 drafts in DFW. All four teams are well-represented in both categories.

In the spirit of draft month, for our Top Five rankings this week we have compiled the list of best and worst draft picks by DFW teams in the last decade. The player did not have to have his success or failure with the local team, but in all ten cases the legacies were created here in town.

Here are the five best DFW draft picks since 2000: 

No. 5 - Jamie Benn (5th round/129 overall, 2007)

Benn was an afterthought choice in the summer of 2007, but by the fall of 2009 he had played a key role for the Canadian National Junior team and had earned regular minutes in a crowded set of Stars forwards. By the end of 2010 he had moved to center, become one of the best young players in the NHL, and was showing signs that he could be the torch bearer for aging hero Mike Modano.

No. 4 - Mark Teixeira (1st round/5 overall, 2001) 

Teixeira might have been the easiest choice for any of the four organizations purely in terms of talent, but the decision to select and pay him was one of Tom Hicks' best moves. Not only did he become one of the best hitters in team history during his four-and-a-half years in Arlington, his rejecting a large contract extension led to the centerpiece of Jon Daniels' impressive building job. Elvis Andrus and Neftali Feliz are Rangers in large part because of the bold Teixeira draft choice.

No. 3 - Jason Witten (3rd round/69 overall, 2003)

Third-rounders regularly pan out in the NFL, but Witten has meant more to the Cowboys than a standard third-round hit. A Bill Parcells protege whether he realizes it or not, Witten's work ethic and leadership helped stabilize the team in the wake of 2008 turmoil. He has been Tony Romo's favorite target since the QB took the reins in 2006, and he has been selected to every Pro Bowl since 2004. He has also been voted first team All-Pro once and second team All-Pro twice.

No. 2 - Ian Kinsler (17th round/496 overall, 2003)

Not known for his bat in college, Kinsler was considered a nice glove who could serve an organization well in the minor leagues as the 2003 draft approached. That changed quickly, as Kinsler burst onto the prospect scene in 2004, hitting .402/.465/.692 in his full season debut. He installed himself as a regular in 2006 and made the AL All-Star team in 2008. He has hit for the cycle, had six hits in one game, and has a 30-30 season to his name.

No. 1 - Jay Ratliff (7th round/224 overall, 2005)

Ratliff was a very good player at Auburn, but NFL teams didn't seem to think that he had the size to handle the interior of an NFL line of scrimmage or the length to work work well outside. Even the Cowboys drafted him after Justin Beriault and Rob Petitti. He has worked his way to becoming the anchor of the highly ranked Dallas defensive line and has made the last two Pro Bowls. He was voted first team All-Pro in 2009.

Stars Honorable Mention

Antti Miettinen - 7th/224 overall, 2000 / Jussi Jokinen - 6th/192, 2001 / Mike Smith - 5th/161, 2001 / Loui Eriksson - 2nd/33, 2003 / Tom Wandell - 5th/146, 2005 / Philip Larsen - 5th/149, 2008

Miettinen, Jokinen and Smith have seen greater success since leaving Dallas, but Jokinen and Smith were also the keys to the acquisition of star center Brad Richards. Ericksson was not a low pick, but he has become a worthy successor to Jere Lehtinen as one of the top two-way wingers in the NHL. Wandell and Larsen could play key roles in the organization's rebuilding project.

Mavericks Honorable Mention

Josh Howard - 1st/29, 2003 / Rodrigue Beaubois - 1st/25, 2009

One of these two should probably have made the Top Five, but Howard's lackluster last few seasons will always leave Mavs fans disappointed, and Beaubois, while brimming with potential, must show consistency. 

Rangers Honorable Mention

CJ Wilson - 5th/141, 2001 / John Danks - 1st/9, 2003 / Scott Feldman - 30th/886, 2003 / Derek Holland - 25th/748, 2006 / Danny Ray Herrera - 45th/1345, 2006 / Tanner Scheppers, 1st/44, 2009

As the Rangers pinned their hopes on first-round picks and international signings throughout this decade, the greatest return that they have seen on their own mound has been Wilson. Danks is one of the best starters in the American League and teams with Kinsler as the best one-two punch in any recent Rangers draft, just nosing out Teixeira and Wilson. Scheppers and Holland could help carry the club to its first playoff success in team history.

Cowboys Honorable Mention

Patrick Crayton - 7th/216, 2004 / DeMarcus Ware - 1st/11, 2005 / Marion Barber - 4th/109, 2005 / Chris Canty - 4th/132, 2005 / Anthony Spencer - 1st/26, 2007 / Tashard Choice - 4th/122, 2008 / Felix Jones - 1st/22, 2009 / Bradie James - 4th/103, 2003 / Mike Jenkins - 1st/26, 2009

Ware, Spencer, Jenkins and Jones were all first-rounders that hit and are now key stars for a playoff contender. Barber and Choice have each turned fourth-round choices into gold. Canty and James also became quality defenders out of the fourth round.

These guys could be called the biggest busts in town, though in Carpenter's case, he could still make a career for himself elsewhere. The five worst picks since 2000:


No. 5 - Bobby Carpenter (1st round/18 overall, 2006)

Carpenter was a legacy pick and a need pick, two dicey inspirations for the pick from Bill Parcells. The Cowboys hoped to turn him into a powerful 3-4 outside linebacker, but he developed into what Jerry Jones coined as a "finesse" linebacker. He had a few high points, but mid-first-rounders become starters and key players, and Carpenter was never very close to either. From the time that teammates were seen on Hard Knocks calling him Barbie Carpenter, his days in Dallas seemed to be numbered.

No. 4 - Scott Heard
(1st round/25 overall, 2000)

The Rangers thought that they had a value in Heard, as he was considered top of the draft material in the season leading up to the draft. But a sub-.300 batting average in high school foretold the trouble Heard would have as a pro. He never hit, and his less than stellar catcher's body did not handle even his early-mid 20s well. He never even approached the major leagues.

No. 3 - Pavel Podkolzin (1st round/21 overall, 2004)

Podkolzin was one of the last of the great Don Nelson experiments with unathletic giants, and he was possibly the most failed. Enjoy this video, because it will most likely be the last time you see his smiling face.


No. 2 - Martin Vagner (1st round/26 overall, 2002)

Few have even heard of this guy, a true testament to his worthlessness as a draft pick. He is the first rounder who was furthest from ever helping the local team, as the Stars failed to sign him in 2002, and when he re-entered the draft in 2004, he was chosen in the 9th round, the equivalent of a 40th-rounder in baseball. Vagner kicked around the Czech League for a little while but never sniffed the NHL.

No. 1 - Drew Meyer
(1st round/10 overall, 2002)

Meyer is the personification of a bust for Rangers fans, a top ten pick in a quality first round who never showed hitting ability as a pro. He shouldn't be held completely to blame, as he never showed much hitting promise as an amateur either and was not expected to be chosen for another 20-plus picks. Grady Fuson largely redeemed himself in 2003 by grabbing Danks and Kinsler, but his rivals in the organization never let Tom Hicks forget this pick. Fuson was responsible for the biggest DFW draft bust in the last decade.

Stars Honorable Mention

Jason Bacashihua - 1/26, 2001

Bacashihua never saw success with the Stars and was dealt to the Blues for Shawn Belle, another disappointing first rounder, who also failed with Dallas. He did play some with St. Louis but has never established himself as an NHL goalie.

Mavericks Honorable Mention

Donnell Harvey - 1/22, 2000 / Maurice Ager - 1/28, 2006

Harvey actually averaged about eight points per game in a 106 game stretch with the Nuggets, but he was woefully bad for Dallas. Ager is still bouncing around, but he never developed into a Dwayde stopper, as Avery Johnson envisioned.

Rangers Honorable Mention

Vince Sinisi - 2/46, 2003 (2,070,000) / John Mayberry - 1/19, 2005 / Kasey Kiker - 1/12, 2006 / Matt Purke - 1/14, 2009 / Matt West - 2/80, 2007

Sinisi's inclusion on the list is based more on his $2.07 million signing bonus than his draft slot. Mayberry was the most roundly panned Rangers pick of the decade, outside of Meyer. Purke only belongs as a result of the events that followed his drafting, as the club's financial deterioration between the draft and the signing deadline cost them an excellent pitching prospect. The pick itself could eventually be seen as a wonderful choice, since Purke is projected to be one of the top three or four talents available in the 2011 draft.

Cowboys Honorable Mention

Jacob Rogers - 2/52, 2004 / Quincy Carter - 2/53, 2001 / Dwayne Goodrich - 2/49, 2000 / Tony Dixon - 2/56, 2001

The Cowboys' tradition of poor second round picks gained steam in the first half of this decade, as Jerry Jones traded down repeatedly but could not make the moves pay off in value.

*** One odd pattern on the two top five lists, all of the best choices occurred in odd years from 2001-07. All of the worst choices occurred in even years from 2000-06. Hmm...

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.