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NFL Draft

Beyond the Clock: Cowboys Undrafted Wonder, Cliff Harris

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Cowboys Headlines - Beyond the Clock: Cowboys Undrafted Wonder, Cliff Harris

Welcome back to Beyond the Clock! In between Sean Martin’s Cowboys On The Clock we will be analyzing the best Cowboy players that were not drafted. We've covered the great Don Meredith and Don Perkins, now we focus on one of the greatest safeties in Cowboys and NFL history out of Ouachita Baptist University, Cliff Harris.

Harris was not chosen in the 1970 NFL Draft but the Cowboys invited him to training camp and was signed as a free agent. Cliff Harris had never seen an NFL game in person and had never played in front of more than 7,000 fans, but once he got on the Cowboys field he thrived off of pure competition. He beat out Cowboys third-round pick Charlie Waters for the starting free safety spot his rookie year and never looked back. He served in the military the second half of the season, but he returned in time for the Cowboys' victory in Super Bowl VI over the Dolphins.

Feared by many, Harris was given the nickname "Captain Crash" for his hard hits, brutal defense and reckless pursuit of ball carriers. Hall of Fame head coach George Allen described him as a “rolling ball of butcher knives.” Harris made it a point to wear the pads of kickers and punters in order to keep his speed and quickness up. Because of Harris’ play style, other defenses would model their free safeties after him. Opposing offenses would tailor their gameplay around number 43. According to Harris, he loved to practice and play with intensity and delivering tough hits to receivers was intimidation for next week's opponents.

Cliff Harris eventually teamed up with Waters to form the Dallas Cowboys’ dynamic duo.

They proved to be the top safety couple in the NFL in the 1970s and remain perhaps the best safety tandem in NFL history. Sure, there have been more notable individuals at the free safety or strong safety position like Ronnie Lott or Ed Reed, but there has probably never been a better twosome than Harris and Waters.

They patrolled the defensive backfield together as the last line of defense for the fabled Dooms-Day Defense of coach Tom Landry, for 10 years. In fact, the Cowboys' defense ranked in the top 10 every year with Harris in the lineup.

Cowboys Draft - Beyond the Clock: Cowboys Undrafted Wonder, Cliff Harris

Over the course of his career, Harris went to six Pro Bowls and was an All-Pro selection five times. Setting the tone for the Cowboys defense, Harris won two Super Bowls in the '70s. He is one of only 13 players in NFL history to play in five Super Bowls, be chosen for the Pro Bowl six consecutive times and be voted All-Pro four times.

The Cowboys were surprised when Harris announced his retirement in 1980 to concentrate on his oil business at age 31. Harris finished his ten NFL seasons with 29 interceptions, which he returned for 281 yards and one touchdown and 16 fumble recoveries, which he returned for 91 yards.

He was also selected to the NFL 1970 All Decade Team and the Cowboys Silver Season All-Time Team in 1984. Unfortunately, out of 11 players on the All Decade team, only Harris isn’t also a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Most recently, in 2004, he was added to the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor.

"Captain Crash" was a fun player to watch, a nightmare for other receivers, a remarkable safety and an incredible Dallas Cowboy. He was Cliff Harris, an underrated wonder. 


I was born and raised in New York state's Hudson Valley and now attend school in New Jersey. Although I live in Montclair, my heart will always have a soft spot for Dallas, Texas. As an intern for Inside the Star, I now have a legitimate reason for the Cowboys to consume my life. Before, I was just a Cowboy fan with no life ... and very concerned parents. When I'm not writing about the Cowboys, I enjoy reading, seeing plays, creative writing, watching TV, and making my friends and family laugh. Follow me on Twitter, so we can connect on all topics related to America's Team. How 'bout em!

NFL Draft

Why The Cowboys Shouldn’t Draft a Guard in the First Round

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Why The Cowboys Shouldn't Draft a Guard in the First Round
Robin Alam / Getty Images

With the 19th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys are in what some call an "awkward spot" to choose a player. As a team with both offensive and defensive needs, it'll all depend on how the board falls and who's still available once they're on the clock.

They can go ahead and find this team's next number one wide receiver, look for a young linebacker for the future, draft a defensive tackle to upgrade the front seven or they can use their first-round pick to continue to build on their already elite offensive line.

Recently, my colleague Brian Martin wrote about how upgrading the left guard position should be the Cowboys' top priority in this Draft. A large amount of fans, writers and analysts feel the same way. Even still, I truly believe that Dallas may be better off addressing a different position in the first round this time around.

However, it'd be foolish not to admit that once Draft Day arrives, if Dallas ends up taking someone to instantly solidify that great offensive line to keep Dak Prescott clean and make holes for Ezekiel Elliott, the pick would simply make sense.

It's hard to imagine how things will turn out, but it's very likely that once the Cowboys' turn comes, the best player available will be a guard. There will be a lot of talent there. Isaiah Wynn and Will Hernandez will probably still be on the board, for instance.

Also, the front office has done a very good job at drafting offensive linemen. In the past recent years, Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin have been one of the main reasons for this team's offensive success.

There are many reasons to believe that OG is the way to go, but I can't help wondering...

Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, Travis Frederick, offensive line

Dallas Cowboys OL Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, Travis Frederick

Drafting a guard at 19 is the safe pick... but is it the right one?

This is an important question. We all know that taking a guard is the safe pick, and that if that's the direction they choose to go, they won't miss and whoever they draft will contribute from Day 1 to this team's success.

Unfortunately, anyone who looks at the Cowboys' situation objectively knows that there are some other needs they have to attend to take another step.

They have at least three linemen playing at an elite level. Not to mention La'el Collins, who has the potential to become an elite player as well. Like it or not, we need to include the salary cap into the picture.

According to Over The Cap, Left Tackle Tyron Smith averages $12.2M per year and Center Travis Frederick $9.4M. Enter Zack Martin who is about to get paid the big bucks soon. He's still playing under his rookie contract after Dallas picked up his fifth-year option.

However, a contract extension is expected to arrive this offseason. If we're being honest with ourselves, he will ask for a big amount of money, because he deserves it. Browns' Kevin Zeitler, the highest paid RG right now, earns $12M a year. Martin's numbers will probably be even higher.

If the Cowboys draft a guard, it'll be in order to ensure that this offensive line will work at a high level.

But if you already have Smith, Martin and Frederick, shouldn't it already be working at a high level? Do you really need four first-round picks (La'el Collins would've been a first-round pick if it wasn't for a situation which had nothing to do with him) in your offensive line to be successful?

A guard at 19 makes sense. It's safe. But I'd rather see this team diversify. They did a great job at finding Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis to rebuild the secondary last year. Maybe they can find a DT or a LB who can help this defense go from "solid" to great.

Or maybe, if they're ready to make this a Dak-friendly offense, go get him a fresh wide receiver. Someone who can create separation and get this offense going.

You can bring back Jonathan Cooper, who did a nice job last season or bring in another free agent. They should definitely look for a guard in April, but not in the first round. Unless it's Quenton Nelson, who is arguable the best or second-best player available this year, I hope they go in a different direction.

Tell me what you think about "Why The Cowboys Shouldn’t Draft a Guard in the First Round" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!


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NFL Draft

Upgrading LG Position Should be Cowboys Top Draft Priority

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Draft Priority Should be Upgrading the LG Position

The Dallas Cowboys are quite proud about the offensive line they have put together over the years. Their OL is headlined by three former first-round draft picks who have turned into All-Pro players, and one player who should've been a first-round pick if not for an unfortunate situation that had nothing to do with him that took place during the draft.

This offensive unit is the backbone of the entire Dallas Cowboys team, but some changes need to be made. No, not the personnel per se. Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, and La'el Collins will all return to their starting roles, but that only makes up 80% of the unit. Who makes up the other 20% is probably the biggest question that needs to be answered before the 2018 season kicks off.

Yes, I'm talking about the vacancy at the left guard position.

Jonathan Cooper

Dallas Cowboys LG Jonathan Cooper

Last season the Dallas Cowboys tried to plug the hole with Chaz Green and Jonathan Cooper. The Green experiment failed miserably and Cooper was serviceable at best. I don't know about you, but I think it's time to find a long-term solution and solidify the best offensive line for years to come.

The best and cheapest way to address the LG position is with one of the Cowboys draft picks.

Sure, the Dallas Cowboys could re-sign Jonathan Cooper to another affordable contract, but I have zero faith he can remain healthy. That's been the knock against him his entire professional career. I was actually surprised he lasted as long as he did in 2017.

With the 19th pick overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys are in a good position to have their choice of the best offensive guards in this draft class. Isaiah Wynn of Georgia, Will Hernandez of UTEP, James Daniels of Iowa, and Billy Price of Ohio State are all players under consideration here.

All four of these players are excellent Cowboys draft targets, and they can't really go wrong with any of them. They all bring a little something different to the table, but each would be an upgrade who would help get this team back on track.

You see, I think finding a new LG is the top Cowboys draft priority. I don't know if there is another position that can be filled by a rookie and contribute more to the team success in 2018.

This is especially true considering what the Cowboys like to do offensively. They want to establish the running game and control the clock. They weren't really able to do that in 2017 due to Tyron Smith's injuries in the revolving door at left guard.

Cowboys Draft Target: UTEP OL Will Hernandez

UTEP OL Will Hernandez

We all saw what happened when they were forced to get away from their bread and butter. This is not an offense that is currently equipped to rely on the passing game to put points on the board. It's just not who they are.

That is why finding a new LG is so important. Not only would it help upgrade the running game, but it would also help keep things going if Tyron Smith continues to struggle with injuries.

It's much easier to plug and play a backup left tackle who can block in the running game than it is to find one who can pass protect as well as Smith.

I know opinions will vary, but I truly believe that it's in everyone's best interest to draft a starting caliber left guard. And if you want to know my opinion, I would do it with their first-round draft pick by taking Will Hernandez.

Do you think LG is the Dallas Cowboys top draft priority?


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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Target: BYU LB Fred Warner

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Draft Target: BYU LB Fred Warner

The 2018 NFL Draft class isn't exactly full of difference-making linebackers. At the top of the class sits Roquan Smith, the Georgia LB who many feel is a franchise changer. Then there is Virginia Tech's Tremaine Edmunds, the athletic freak who has risen up draft boards. After the top two, however, there is some confusion about the rest of the class.

My third linebacker would be Alabama's Rashaan Evans, but after watching more tape over the last couple of months, BYU's Fred Warner is LB4 on my board. I recently wrote up a full scouting report on Warner for Slant Sports, in which I detailed what exactly I like about Warner's game.

During his time at BYU Warner doubled as an EDGE defender and off ball linebacker. He often found himself in-line and defending the line of scrimmage, and did a good job when asked to do so. In my opinion, he projects to be a WILL in the NFL, an off-ball linebacker the Cowboys could certainly use.

At 6'3" 235 pounds Warner is a big and fluid athlete who looks extremely comfortable in space. Fred Warner possesses impressive processing ability and the closing speed to come down hill and make plays after reading and recognizing what the offense is doing.

nfldraft2018 fred warner 3 - Streamable

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"On this play we see an example of Fred Warner’s ability to read, react, and close on the ball carrier. Warner stays disciplined in his run fits at first, reading the hats of the linemen as the hole forms. As the runner bounces, Warner begins to break down hill to make the play."

Fred Warner is also rather solid in coverage. Considering his length and quickness, Warner can cover a lot of ground in zone coverage. Every now and then he made some splashy type plays in coverage as well, such as this one against UCLA.

nfldraft2018 fred warner 2 - Streamable

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"Warner gets into his drop smoothly here, reading his keys and processing the play in front of him. Then, as soon as the quarterback lets go of the ball, Warner jumps on the route and makes a great play on the ball. Considering his size, this is an outstanding rep from Fred Warner."

So where would the Cowboys have to take Warner? By my estimation, 81st overall is the sweet spot for Fred Warner. There are a lot of decent linebacker prospects bunched together late day two and early day three, but I think Warner has separated himself from the pack.

I believe Warner is a better prospect than a Josey Jewell or Leighton Vander Esch, despite the love they have been getting during this draft season. I understand those who would say someone like Jewell better fits what the Cowboys need in a MIKE linebacker, but Fred Warner's hybrid versatility and skills at WILL make him very valuable as well.

The Cowboys could use some depth at linebacker, and Fred Warner would immediately provide that for Dallas. And, depending on the health of Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith, Warner may be asked to play a lot during his rookie season.


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