Dallas Cowboys

Top 10 Best Draft Picks of the Jerry Jones Era

Is it time for Jerry Jones to step aside as general manager of the Dallas Cowboys, or do the three Super Bowl wins under his tenure validate his decision to remain in that role? The debate will continue until Jones either hands over the keys to his son Stephen or dies.

While another argument unlikely to end anytime soon is the impact former head coaches Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells had on the draft and player moves, the list of players signed and drafted with Jones as GM is one that every fan should celebrate.

Certainly there have been a bunch of awful draft picks over the years, but there's a list of busts for every team in the league. So, for now, with many fans thoughts on next year's draft, let's look at the 10 best.

10. Jay Ratliff, Auburn University
2005, seventh round, 224th overall

Despite a successful career at a well-known school, Ratliff slipped through the cracks and became one of the top late-round picks in recent memory as the 224th player taken in 2005. His three-consecutive Pro Bowl sections are much more indicative of Ratliff's contributions over the last six seasons than his 25 career sacks and 117 tackles, which could improve dramatically if he's moved to defensive end next year.

He's a player you have to watch closely to appreciate as a dominating presence on the defensive line. Ratliff often ties up multiple blockers, allowing his teammates to make tackles, and the number of times he's forced a quarterback or running back into a place they didn't plan on being is countless.

9. Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State University
2010, first round, 24th overall

When Bryant was drafted and later handed the coveted No. 88 jersey once worn by legends Drew Pearson and Michael Irvin, it seemed unlikely that he'd live up to the hype. Fans held their breath as he sat out most of training camp with a high left ankle sprain, but he quickly emerged as one of few bright spots on a team headed nowhere.

Bryant accumulated 1,069 all-purpose yards and eight touchdowns in 12 games this year before breaking his right ankle on a kickoff return, and he averaged 14.3 yards per punt return -- second only to Devin Hester of the Chicago Bears. If he can avoid future injuries, there's no reason why Bryant can't be Irvin-like on offense and Hester-like on special teams, making him one of the game's biggest threats.

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Sam Merten
Contact: Sam Merten