Rank Spencer above Spears among recent 1st-rounders

If the Cowboys’ recent first-round picks don’t hit big, the long run of mediocrity by America’s Team will continue.

Jean-Jacques Taylor made that point well this morning. But I have one beef with my colleague’s column.

You can’t use Marcus Spears as an example of a successful first-round pick and put Anthony Spencer in the blah category by comparison.

They’re both well below DeMarcus Ware and well above Bobby Carpenter in the scale of success by recent Dallas first-rounders. But Spencer should rank above Spears.

Spears signing a long-term deal with the Cowboys last summer isn’t evidence that he lived up to his billing. He remained with the Cowboys because the market determined that he was an affordable option to be part of the defensive end rotation.

It’s telling that Spears lost his starting job soon after signing a five-year, $19.2 million deal. There’s no guarantee he’ll even make the roster this season.

If the Cowboys could sign Spencer to the same deal, they’d do it in a split second. The reality is that Spencer, even with his mediocre sack totals, will end up getting more than twice that much money on the open market.

The Cowboys put the franchise tag on Spencer – overpaying him this season – because they aren’t prepared to commit to paying a premium price for him for the long term. They gave Spears a long-term deal because it didn’t cost that much by NFL standards.

That doesn’t make Spears a better pick than Spencer. They’ve both been serviceable, but Spencer has been better than Spears. And the Cowboys need better than both from their first-rounders.