The 1 Draft Pick Jerry Jones Got Right for the Cowboys

The first decade of the Cowboys under Jerry Jones went surprisingly well. The ’90s team featured Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin as they won three Super Bowls. Things have continued to get worse since then, especially as Tony Romo found every way possible to lose in the playoffs.

Despite an uneven history with the Cowboys, Jerry Jones made one draft choice that averted disaster.

Jerry Jones and the 2014 NFL Draft

Owner Jerry Jones speaks to the media after a Dallas Cowboys news conference in 2014
Owner Jerry Jones speaks to the media in 2014 | Ron T. Ennis/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

With the 16th overall pick, the Cowboys had the opportunity to select Johnny Manziel. Since then, the Texas A&M prodigy has been on the outside looking in with the Cowboys, never getting a chance to play in Dallas.

Jones chose to pass up on Manziel. Instead, he picked up guard Zack Martin. The Notre Dame alum had spent four years with the Fighting Irish, starting as a redshirt in 2009 and becoming the starting left tackle in 2010. 

Johnny Manziel’s NFL run

In 2014, Heisman-winner Manziel declared for the draft and was immediately the most-discussed player available. Team after team passed on him during the first round. Once 15 teams had picked, Dallas took their turn.

Romo’s career was coming to an end. The Cowboys knew they needed a QB in the near future. However, Dallas picked Martin and Manziel fell to the Browns at 22nd overall.

Over the next two seasons, Manziel battled injury and controversy in Cleveland before falling out of the NFL as no teams wanted to take a chance on him. Manziel played in the Canadian Football League and the ill-fated Alliance of American Football. But he hasn’t played since the AAF folded.

Zack Martin’s Cowboys career

The player the Cowboys chose has quietly produced beyond expectations. Despite the team’s continued failure in the divisional round of the playoffs, Martin has been selected for the Pro Bowl every year of his career so far.

After the 2019 regular season ended, Martin also received his fourth First-Team All-Pro selection in six years. Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot have given the city of Dallas hope for the near future, and Martin’s excellent work at guard ensures that Zeke and Dak have plenty of time to work behind the line.

Many casual Dallas fans would be surprised to learn that Martin has the fourth-largest contract on the team. Indeed, he signed the biggest contract for a guard in the NFL back in 2018. Despite battling injury concerns, Martin has played well.

So far, the 29-year-old has only missed two games in his career due to a knee injury. The team was concerned when he returned to the field, but Martin played all 16 games in 2019 and kept the Cowboys in the thick of the playoff hunt until the final minutes.

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