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Cowboys have found diamonds in the draft’s late rounds

By the time five rounds of the Draft are in the books, teams are looking for diamonds in the rough. The Cowboys have managed to do so as well as any other team.

In the they've selected four players of note. In 1962 they selected George Andrie and 11 years later, 10 as a starter, he departed with one win under his belt.

In 1968 they took D.D. Lewis, who rewarded them with a 13-season career and helped lead the team to five Super Bowl appearances. In 1970, they selected Pat Toomay and got five good seasons out of his work on the .

In 1980 the pick was Timmy Newsome, who spent nine seasons as a and four of those as a starting . Eugene “The Hitting Machine” Lockhart was selected in the round in 1984 and gave Dallas seven solid seasons at linebacker.

In 2011 they selected at . Harris made more of an impact as a than a wide receiver, but still gave Dallas four good seasons.

The Seventh Round

In present years, the seventh round is the final round of the draft. Teams are really scraping the bottom of their draft board barrels at this point.

But in the 1960s, with the AFL still a separate league and drafting the same players as the NFL, there was value to be found. And the Cowboys found it in that decade.

In 1964 they drafted , who made defenses change the way they defended the pass, in the seventh round. In 1967 they selected offensive . Both men are in the .

Create the Perfect Wide Receiver: Dallas Cowboys Edition 1
wide receiver Bob Hayes (22) shown in 1974. Exact location unknown. (AP Photo)

Even after the merger, the Cowboys still found contributors in the round. Mike Hegman (1975) and Ron Fellows (1981) had solid careers in Dallas. But 1991 might have produced the team's best post-merger pick in the round.

Leon Lett certainly had a storied career in Dallas. Despite his two less desirable highlights – the fumble in the Super Bowl and the blocked field goal in the snow against Miami – Lett was a key piece in the 1990s dynasty run.

To the eighth round and beyond

At one time in the 1940s, the lasted 32 rounds. By the time the Cowboys arrived to an NFL draft in 1961 it was down to 20. Over time it decreased to 17, then to 12. In 1993 it was reduced to eight rounds and the next year to seven rounds where it has remained ever since.

During the 1960s Dallas made three picks in those later rounds that played a huge role in its two in five Super Bowl Appearances. In 1964 they took a chance on a player who would not be able to play for five years.

was the best player in , hands down. But he played for the Naval Academy. Which meant he had a five-year tour in the Navy to serve and no waivers existed back then.

Jim Cooper
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach (12) runs run in a game against the , 1977. Cowboys Jim Cooper (61) runs along with Staubach; Cardinals Charlie Davis (76) and Ron Yankowski (78) give chase. (AP Photo)

But in the 10th round the Cowboys used the 129th pick of the draft on him. The rest is .

The next year they selected Jethro Pugh in the 11th round. In the 16th round they picked defensive end .

Post NFL-AFL Merger Drafts

Even after the merger the Cowboys still found quality late in the draft. As the draft is constituted now, even with , less than 300 players will be drafted.

But in 1972, in the 13th round and with the 338th overall pick, the Cowboys took Jean Fugett. In 1975 they selected Herb Scott in the 13th round (330) and running back Scott Laidlaw in the 14th round (356).

In 1977 they selected quarterback Steve DeBerg in the 10th round (275). He would not play a down with Dallas, but he went on to have a solid NFL career. Given how the Cowboys struggled at the position after Staubach retired, maybe they should have kept him?

In 1978 the Cowboys drafted Dennis Thurman in the 11th round (306). In 1979 they found linebacker Bruce Thornton in the eighth round (219). In 1984 they took a flyer, one that did not pay off like the Walker gamble did.

The Cowboys selected Carl Lewis in the 12th round (334). While he went on to become a four-time gold medalist at that summer's Olympic Games, he did not turn out to be the second coming of Bob Hayes.

The 1990s dynasty team found three key pieces to its title run in these later rounds. Kevin Gogan (1987 – 8th – 206), (1988 – 11th – 290), and eventual Super Bowl Larry Brown (1991 – 12th – 320) were all found late in the draft.

Richard Paolinelli
Richard Paolinelli
Richard has covered sports at all levels - from local, prep, college, and professional - since 1984. He has been a fan of the Dallas Cowboys since 1969. Since retiring as a full-time sports writer in 2013, he has written and published several novels, two dozen short stories and two sports non-fiction books.

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