The countdown to the 2016 NFL Draft is officially on, as our Cowboys on the Clock series is well underway! If you’re just getting started with this post, the concept of the series is that – based on the remaining number of days until the draft – we will take a look at the last player the Cowboys selected with that number’s pick in the first round.
So, the last player Dallas selected with the 31st overall pick was Travis Frederick, which gave him the honor of kicking off this series right here. The series then transitioned to our alternate “Beyond the Clock” series, as the Cowboys have never selected with the 30th or 29th overall pick.
Dante will continue this series for each day before the draft that does not correlate with a first round selection for the Cowboys, but we won’t have to worry about that for some time.
Larry Bethea brought this series back to the on the clock version, where it will stay this way for some time. He was followed by Byron Jones, and now today we take a look at the Cowboys most recent selection at #26 overall.
The Philadelphia Eagles were on the clock with the 26th overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, until Jerry Jones called them up and decided to trade back into the round. Dallas gave up their original first round pick in a trade with the Browns, but saw an opening to make the selection of Anthony Spencer with this newly acquired 26th pick.
Spencer played his college football at Purdue, where he steadily improved in each season. From red shirt freshman to team MVP in his 2006 senior season, Spencer went on to have a very solid career with the Cowboys.
At the time of his selection, the Cowboys were very thin on pass rushers. Outside of the dominant DeMarcus Ware, the only other consistent threat was Greg Ellis. With Ellis recovering from surgery to start the 2007 season, Spencer received a chance to start across from Ware in the team’s first four games.
He finished the season appearing in every game, although losing the starting spot to a healthy Ellis later on, and recorded 3 sacks along with 2 forced fumbles.
2009 would mark the next significant point in Spencer’s Dallas career, as Ellis was released before the season. Spencer filled his shoes nicely, as he started every game for the next two years while recording 11 sacks in that time.
This concluded the years left on Spencer’s rookie contract, but he would play three more seasons in the silver and blue. His extensions began with consecutive franchise tags in 2012 and 2013, before signing a one-year deal in 2014 – his final with the team.
2012 would turn out to be a breakout year for Spencer, as he hit double digit sacks for the first time and made his first Pro Bowl. Still, the team missed the playoffs for the fourth time in his six seasons with the team.
Dallas once again used the franchise tag on Spencer entering 2013, when new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin converted the defensive formation back to a 4-3. Now expected to play at defensive end, Spencer never really got a chance to show his ability at the position this year, as he had season-ending knee surgery following the team’s week 2 loss in Kansas City.
Still, Spencer was able to stay with the team for his third playoff appearance in 2014, as he signed a new one year deal in the off season. His recovery from the knee surgery was a concern, but Spencer went on to play in 13 games. While the sack numbers were not there, Spencer will be remembered most from the 2014 season for his play at the end of the Wild Card Playoff round vs the Lions.
This forced fumble should have ended the game, but as you can see DeMarcus Lawrence proceeded to fumble the ball right back to the Lions afterwards. Lawrence made up for it moments later, as he recorded a sack of his own against Stafford that turned the ball over on downs and sent the Cowboys to the Divisional Playoffs.
The following week, the Cowboys pass rush failed to get anything going against Aaron Rodgers, as the team was bounced from the playoffs at Lambeau Field – ending Spencer’s career with the Cowboys.
He finished his time in Dallas with 33 sacks and 14 forced fumbles. This past summer, he was named the greatest player to ever wear #93 for the Cowboys by our Staff Writer RJ Ochoa in his “Countdown to Kickoff” series.
The following players have also been selected with the 26th overall pick by the Dallas Cowboys:
Bill Thomas, RB, 1974
Thomas never recorded a single carry for the Cowboys, after being their first round selection following a Super Bowl win in the 1972 Draft, due to nagging injuries that dated back to his college days at Boston College.
Howard Richards, G, 1987
Richards’ time in Dallas was also plagued by injuries, as he went on to only start 16 games over his 6 seasons with the team. Although the team only missed the playoffs twice during his time as a Cowboy, Richards’ never got the chance to play in a Super Bowl. He appeared in two games for the Seahawks in 1987 – his last season in the league.
Up next for “Cowboys on the Clock”: 2008 first round pick Mike Jenkins
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