The NFL draft is right around the corner April 25-27 and before we dive more into the Dallas Cowboys’ needs and what direction they might go with their selections each round, we’re going to take a step back and review.

So, how did the Cowboys get here? How has America’s Team remained stuck in mediocrity the last decade? Some of the blame can be traced to how the team has drafted players, especially from 2006 to 2009. We’ll continue today by taking a look back at each of the Cowboys’ last five draft classes, reviewing the overall impact of each class and if each pick that year was a bust (D or below, if you prefer grades), fair (B-C) or good (A).

We’ve already reviewed the Cowboys’ draft classes of 2008, 2009 and 2010. Today, we look back at the Cowboys’ 2011 draft class.

In 2011, the Cowboys had the ninth overall pick in the draft and selected Southern California offensive tackle Tyron Smith. Smith became just the fourth lineman selected by the Cowboys in the first round and the second-highest in team history (John Niland was selected fifth overall in 1966). When it was all over last April, the Cowboys had selected eight players. Two of the team’s eight selections – Smith and third-round running back DeMarco Murray from Oklahoma– had great impact for the Cowboys during their rookie seasons.

Here’s a look at each of the Cowboys’ eight players selected in the 2011 draft:

First round: OT Tyron Smith from USC

How he fared: Smith moved to left tackle last off-season, switching positions with veteran Doug Free. Smith played well in his first season to start at left tackle last year and should be a mainstay along the Cowboys’ offensive line for many years to come. Smith was almost immediately named the Cowboys starting right tackle his rookie season and he performed well. He has been the Cowboys’ most consistent offensive lineman in his first two years in the NFL.