As we count down the final seconds toward the NFL Draft, I've taken some retrospective looks at the Dallas Cowboys history in the NFL Draft. The other day I went over the success rate of the Cowboys during the Jason Garrett coaching era.
Today, I'm taking a bit of a lighter look at the top 10 first round picks made by the Dallas Cowboys in their nearly 60 year history.
Before I get into this, let me just say that I don't have the benefit of some of my elders who've been fans of the Dallas Cowboys since the 60s, 70s or even the 90s since I came on board a few years after my family moved to Texas in 1997. So, I don't have the first-hand knowledge of some of these guys, but I've dug deep into the history of America's Team.
With that said, let's get into the Top 10 First Round Picks
10. Tyron Smith, OT, University of Southern California
Under Jerry Jones, the Dallas Cowboys had never used a first round pick on an offensive lineman. That was until Jason Garrett became the head coach and was able to convince the Owner and General Manager that protecting their most valuable asset, Tony Romo, was of the highest priority.
The ninth overall pick in 2011 hasn't disappointed. In seven seasons with the Cowboys he's become one of the most dominant players in the league at his position. He's made the Pro Bowl the last five seasons and was awarded first-team All-Pro selections in 2014 and 2016. Coincidentally, those were also the years that Dallas made the playoffs and had the league leader in rushing.
While the Dallas Cowboys have since added other first rounders, it was Smith who started it all, and he remains the veteran leader in the offensive line room.
Slowed by back injuries over the last couple of seasons, if Smith can maintain his Pro Bowl form he'll find himself enshrined in the Dallas Cowboys' Ring of Honor as well as the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
9. DeMarcus Ware, EDGE, Troy
When Bill Parcells came on board with the Dallas Cowboys in 2005, it marked a switch from the 4-3 defense the Cowboys had been running for-ev-er to the 3-4 Parcells preferred. In the 2005 NFL Draft, they made DeMarcus Ware the 11th overall pick out of small school Troy. He didn't disappoint.
In nine years with Dallas, Ware made the Pro Bowl six times including four first-team All-Pro seasons. He was a dominant force on a defense that lacked playmakers at other positions for much of his tenure.
When he left for the Denver Broncos, due to age and injury issues, there was an outpouring of criticism from the fans. He was a beloved player, often playing injured and helped keep the Dallas Cowboys afloat when they didn't have much reason to contend for the playoffs.
The 8-8 seasons at the start of the Jason Garrett tenure, though disappointing, were also a result of Ware's presence. Like Tony Romo on offense, if Ware hadn't been around, some of those historically bad defenses under Rob Ryan and Monte Kiffin would have been even worse and they wouldn't have so much as sniffed .500.
Ware went on to two more Pro Bowl appearances with the Denver Broncos and won a Super Bowl in 2016.
He's back helping the defensive linemen with the Dallas Cowboys and it's only a matter of time until he receives his Ring of Honor and Hall of Fame inductions.
8. Calvin Hill, RB, Yale
Calvin Hill earned first-team All-Pro honors his first year in the NFL in 1969 and helped the Dallas Cowboys win the Super Bowl in 1971. He made the Pro Bowl four times with the Cowboys and never had less than 1,000 total yards for Dallas.
His career with the Cowboys was short-lived, but had an impact. Though they only won one Super Bowl with Hill on the roster, they made it to the NFC Championship game three other times, winning one.
7. Ed "Too Tall" Jones, DT, Tennessee St.
The first overall pick in the 1974 NFL Draft, Ed "Too Tall" Jones was a huge part of the Dallas Cowboys reaching the Super Bowl four times in five years in the mid-70s. Jones played 15 seasons for the Dallas Cowboys and averaged seven sacks a season from 1982 -- when sacks became an official stat -- to 1989.
Jones is a member of the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor, made the Pro Bowl three straight seasons from 1981 to 1983 with a first-team All-Pro selection in 1982.
6. Michael Irvin, WR, Miami
Michael Irvin may not have the statistical accomplishments that players like Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, and Cris Carter have, but it can't be understated how important Michael Irvin was to the success of the Dallas Cowboys in the 90s.
While Troy Aikman might have been seen as the leader of the team, Irvin was the heart of the team. The swagger that came from the Miami Hurricanes teams of the late 80s carried over with Irvin to his role on the Dallas Cowboys.
Selected 11th overall in 1988, Irvin was selected to the Pro Bowl five straight seasons from 1991-1995, earning first-team All-Pro accolades in 1991. That 1991 season was statistically Irvin's best as he went for more than 1,500-receiving yards and scored eight touchdowns. That season should extinguish any thought that Irvin wasn't in the same tier as Rice and Brown.
Though he's only 38th in receptions and 27th in receiving yards, Irvin was the epitome of a "do-it-all" receiver as his run blocking was a key to Emmitt Smith's success.
Irvin was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007 and was a member of all three Super Bowl winning teams in the 1990s. Along with the other "Triplets," he maintains a place in the Cowboys Ring of Honor.
5. Tony Dorsett, RB, Pittsburgh
The second overall pick in the 1977 NFL Draft, Tony Dorsett has his name in the Hall of Fame and rushed for more than 12,000 yards in his 11-year career. His career rushing total is ninth most in the history of the NFL. With more than 1,300-rushing yards in the playoffs, he sits 4th All-time.
As a rookie, he helped the Dallas Cowboys win their second Super Bowl in 1977. He was selected to three straight Pro Bowls from 1981-1983 and was a first team All-Pro in 1981. Also a member of the Cowboys Ring of Honor, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1994.
4. Randy White, DE, Maryland
Randy White was the second overall pick in the 1975 draft. "The Manster" was and still is a huge part of the Dallas Cowboys community.
White was named to the Pro Bowl nine straight seasons from 1977 to 1985, and in that same time frame was named to the All-Pro's first team eight times.
Randy White went to three Super Bowls with the franchise in the middle to late 70s, winning one in 1977. White and Harvey Martin were selected as Co-MVPs of Super Bowl XII.
Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1994, White is in the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor.
2. Bob Lilly, DT, Texas Christian University
Bob Lilly, also known as "Mr. Cowboy," was a part of the Dallas Cowboys teams of the 1960s and 1970s that affectionately became known as America's Team.
There's no way to quantify his impact to those teams since tackles and sacks aren't recorded with Pro Football Reference for the time that he played with the Cowboys. Cowboys historians, however, know the impact the Hall of Famer and Ring of Honor member had on the franchise.
He played 14 seasons with the Cowboys from 1961 to 1974 and was selected to the Pro Bowl 11 times, including 10 straight seasons from 1964 to 1973. Lilly was also selected to the All-Pro's first-team six years in a row and seven overall.
He was a feared member of the "Doomsday Defense" that tormented opposing teams in the 60s and 70s. Lilly helped the Dallas Cowboys win their first Super Bowl in 1971.
2. Emmitt Smith, RB, Florida
Emmitt Smith was drafted as the 17th overall pick in the 1990 NFL Draft. The NFL's All-Time leading Rusher was, like Troy Aikman, a big reason for the Dallas Cowboys' historic run in the early 90s. Emmitt was a huge part of the identity of those Cowboys teams that former teammate and current Head Coach Jason Garrett is trying to recreate.
He was a physical runner who played hurt and gave up his body for the team. It's incredible that he had a 14-year career and never suffered any major injuries. His durability is nearly as impressive as his statistics were.
Like Wayne Gretzky in the NHL, Smith's rushing totals will be nearly impossible to match or break as it has turned into more of a passing league, and given the way the NFL uses running backs in today's game.
Smith is a Hall of Famer and member of the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor and was awarded MVP for Super Bowl XXVIII.
1. Troy Aikman, QB, UCLA
When the Dallas Cowboys made Troy Aikman the number one overall pick in the 1989 draft, they were at a transition point in the history of the franchise. Jerry Jones had purchased the team and Jimmy Johnson was brought in as head coach. A lot of changes were underway, and they got everything they could have hoped for when selecting Aikman first overall.
He was a leader on and off the field, a great player, a three-time Super Bowl winner, and a Hall of Famer. He may not have the statistics of some of his contemporaries like Dan Marino, Joe Montana, or Brett Favre, but that is a result of the symbiotic balance the Dallas Cowboys were able to create with the run and pass game.
While he benefited from being on a great team, he was also a huge part of what made those teams great.
Aikman was selected as Super Bowl XXVII's MVP in their 52-17 win over the Buffalo Bills. He is a Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor member and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
The Dallas Cowboys have had tremendous success in the first round of NFL Drafts, more so than they've had flops.
Tonight they have a great chance to add to the legacy of those Hall of Fame players who have gone before them.
DL Christian Covington Could Be Rod Marinelli’s Next Great Find
Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli has earned the reputation for finding and developing lesser-known defensive linemen over the years, and turning them into productive players for his defense.
It seems like every year the Cowboys have at least one defensive tackle who entered the season with no-to-limited hype, and finished it as a hard-nosed, productive player in the middle of their defensive line rotation.
Christian Covington could very well be that guy in 2019.
The former Houston Texan has had an interesting NFL career thus far. Overall, his raw numbers are decent on paper, appearing in 50 games over four seasons and tallying up 7.5 sacks and 65 tackles. Not bad for a rotational defensive lineman, to be sure.
As a Texan, Covington was mostly asked to play out of position, however. In their 3-4 scheme Covington played as the defensive end, whereas he'll be a 3-technique lining up over the guard in the Cowboys system. This should suit Covington much better, allowing him to be more comfortable in his position and hopefully produce at a higher clip.
Christian Covington is expected to be heavily involved in a defensive tackle rotation which is becoming quite crowded due to the Cowboys' busy offseason. Not only did Dallas draft UCF tackle Trysten Hill in the second round of the draft, but they are also bringing back the likes of Maliek Collins, Tyrone Crawford, and Antwaun Woods just to name a few.
Still, Covington should be able to compete for (and win) significant playing time by the middle of the season if all goes according to plan.
Covington is a solid interior pass rusher that can push the middle of the pocket and make quarterbacks uncomfortable. He has experience occupying blocks on the inside to free up elite edge rushers in Houston, which is exactly what he'll be doing for the likes of DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn in Dallas this season.
Don't be surprised if he does more than simply "occupying" blocks, though, and steals some sack production for himself this upcoming season.
Everything You Need to Know About Cowboys Madden 20 Ratings
Madden 20 is scheduled to release in August and the moment has arrived for both fans and players to be excited or outraged about this year's ratings. Madden ratings are constantly updated once released, but it's always fun to overreact when the launch ratings are announced. Even the "Madden 99 Club" has become an exciting social media dynamic with players being announced one by one.
Today, we'll dive into everything you need to know about the Dallas Cowboys' Madden 20 ratings!
The Second Best Team
It may come as a surprise that the Dallas Cowboys own the second highest overall in this year's game. With 86 on both offense and defense, America's Team ultimately amounts to an overall rating of 88. Second only to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys' ratings in the upcoming EA game should have fans excited to play.
While it is surprising to see Dallas over the current NFC champions, the L.A. Rams, or the the New England Patriots, the rating makes sense.
The Cowboys are very talented (Brandt actually named them the second most talented team in the NFL) and are loaded in the trenches. Offensive linemen Tyron Smith (94 OVR), Zack Martin (96 OVR) and Travis Frederick (94 OVR) really boost the team's overall rating. Not to mention a talented defense, specially at LB and DE.
Top 5 Cowboys in Madden 20
Only five Dallas Cowboys got a 90+ rating in this year's edition of Madden.
RG Zack Martin - 96 Overall
I cannot disagree with Martin being the highest-graded player on the Cowboys. This guy might be the best OL on the team and he hasn't missed serious time throughout his career. He's been the best right guard since arriving to the NFL in 2014 and hasn't showed any signs of slowing down.
Martin is the second best offensive lineman in the game (Packers LT David Bakhtiari is 97) and the best guard.
C Travis Frederick - 94 Overall
The Cowboys' center will be back on the field after missing the 2018 season and EA holds him at the top of his game. Although there is uncertainty about his health in real life, it doesn't affect his numbers on Madden. Frederick definitely deserves to be tied with Eagles' Jason Kelce for the throne among centers.
LT Tyron Smith - 94 Overall
Smith's injuries have cost him the title for best LT in football, but when healthy, #77 still dominates on the field. Hopefully, the Cowboys are able to get him for 16 games this season. After missing time in three consecutive seasons, Smith has something to prove this year.
RB Ezekiel Elliott - 94 Overall
Lucky for you and me, we don't have to worry about any potential holdouts in Madden (that'd be an interesting yet annoying feature). Ezekiel Elliott is the second best RB in the game (Gurley is #1), which seems fair to me. With a 94 overall rating, my only complaint would be Zeke's elusiveness being a mere 85.
CB Byron Jones - 91 Overall
Coming in to finish off the Cowboys' Top 5 is your second-team All-Pro CB Byron Jones! After a breakout year in 2018, it's nice to see Madden give him credit. We don't know if he'll stick around in Dallas for long, but when you play franchise mode, it'll be up to you.
DeMarcus Lawrence Got a What, Now?
You probably noticed a name missing in the Cowboys "90+ Club," didn't you?
Somehow, someway, EA Sports decided DeMarcus Lawrence was only worthy of an 89 overall rating. To which I say, and I'm sure Cowboys Nation echoes me: that's ridiculous!
I'll go ahead and list the pass rushers that are ranked above Lawrence:
- Aaron Donald - 99 OVR (Fair, he's the best defensive player in the game)
- Khalil Mack - 99 OVR (Fair)
- Von Miller - 97 OVR (Fair)
- J.J. Watt - 97 OVR (I can live with it, he did have an All-Pro season and 16 sacks)
- Calais Campbell - 92 OVR
- Jadeveon Clowney - 92 OVR
- Myles Garrett - 91 OVR
- Cameron Jordan - 91 OVR
- Brandon Graham - 89 OVR (Tied with D-Law)
Man, I think the folks over at EA Sports are hugely underrating Lawrence. He might be the best EDGE rusher against the run and is among the best in the NFL rushing the passer. I get why he's not in the top 4, but he should be somewhere between Myles Garrett and Calais Campbell without a doubt.
Oh, by the way, DeMarcus Lawrence is asking Cowboys Nation to start a "Madden Strike."
HOLD UP @EAMaddenNFL you not just going to disrespeck me like that with an 89 and get away with it....PUT. SOME. RESPECK. ON. https://t.co/ndDkGvo7gx. UNTIL THEN COWBOYS NATION IS ON MADDEN STRIKE! RT @dallascowboys Nation show em we ain't playin bih. https://t.co/okVXyooI3l
I love you as much as the next fan, Lawrence, but I'm getting the game. My bad. I'm sure it won't be long before they upgrade your stats.
A Few More Notes...
Dak Prescott got an 81 OVR rating: I won't complain about this one. It sounds low, but looking at the QBs listed above him, it makes sense. Mayfield, who has an 83, might be the one guy I'd like to see below Dak. He has a lot of potential, but we've seen more from Prescott so far.
Jason Witten's 83 rating seems high: #82 is the reason I fell in love with football, but I'll question this rating. Witten is 37-years old and is coming back from retirement. He was slow when he stepped back, who knows how he'll do now. But I love the idea of playing with him once more.
Michael Gallup is being slept on: I understand Gallup's 78 OVR rating. I really do. He didn't play that much on the first half of the season but improved on a weekly basis. I believe that his rating will change quickly with Gallup poised for a breakout year.
Antwaun Woods' rating is way too low: Woods should have a higher rating than 73. Although he is a DT and his stats don't jump out of the page, he proved to be a great one-tech for the Cowboys and made impact plays constantly when on the field. But hey, at least he's not complaining.
Honestly I'm just happy to be on Madden. A video game I've been playing my whole life. @EAMaddenNFL #Thankful
Cowboys LB are strong: Leighton Vander Esch (86 OVR), Jaylon Smith (85 OVR) and Sean Lee (84 OVR) all got a strong, well-deserved rating. These guys will be fun to watch on the field on Sundays and on your gaming console on a daily basis.
Amari Cooper's rating is spot on: Many have complained about Cooper having a 89 OVR, but I believe they nailed it. As much as we love Amari, he isn't in the top tier of NFL wide receivers. Let Hopkins, Beckham, Brown, Jones be on the 90s. 89 feels just right for Amari.
At the end of the day, these ratings are all subject to change. And with so many ups and downs in an NFL season, you better believe they will change. In the meantime, we can only wait. The game we annually wait so much for is just around the corner!
Cowboys Nation Mailbag: Tank’s Madden Rating, Rookies on the Roster?
Probably one of my favorite things about this time of the year is attempting to figure out which rookies from the most recent draft class will have the opportunity to make a statement during their first season in the NFL. As an NFL franchise, you hope that several, if not all of your draft picks are able to make your opening week 53-man roster and make significant impacts during the regular season.
With the way the Dallas Cowboys have drafted in the last four or five years, we've grown accustomed to first-year players showing out in their rookie seasons. This time of year creates all kinds of speculation toward that end.
The downside to this time of year is that there isn't a ton to talk about. Most of what is going on is speculation into how the team will look when they take the field week one.
It's that time of the NFL year when there's not a whole lot going on and EA Sports drops their Madden ratings out for the world to peruse and criticize. Like every year, there are always ratings that make you go, "huh?" and this year is no different.
Tank is 89 rating on Madden, how? 😳 pic.twitter.com/NoGNXDvM3E
— mike crum (@cdpiglet) July 15, 2019
The fact that DeMarcus Lawrences is rated only an 89 on Madden 20 is just further evidence to how underappreciated he is around the NFL and those who follow the NFL. Even in the Dallas Cowboys fanbase, Lawrence isn't considered to be the same level of player that Khalil Mack or Von Miller is, but if you look at the totality of the numbers, you find that Tank's been every bit as productive and disruptive as those guys have been.
As you can see from the chart above, in fewer snaps, DeMarcus Lawrence had a greater playmaking EPA over the course of the 2018 season than Khalil Mack and Von Miller. Aaron Donald had a higher playmaking EPA and should be rated higher than Lawrence, but I have a really hard time with Lawrence being rated anything less than a 95.
Though he may not have had as many sacks as Mack or either of the Watt brothers, Lawrence finished tied for fourth among edge rushers in Pro Football Focus' "stops" metric, which is defined as a play that results in a loss for the defense. Could be a tackle for a loss, a tackle that didn't achieve the expected yards for the down and distance, a sack, a batted pass, an interception, a tackle that forced a fourth down.
Lawrence is one of those players that does everything really, really well. He's one of the most well-rounded players on the defensive side of the football as he doesn't lack in his ability to play the run or rush the passer.
His ability to disrupt the run and pass game at an equally elite level goes beyond what you see in a boxscore. Oh, and his boxscore is really really good too. Though many Cowboys' fans were unsure if Lawrence was worth the $21 million per year and $60 million guaranteed that he received this offseason, I've never wavered in my belief that you should feel comfortable paying DeMarcus Lawrence like an elite edge player, because he's an elite edge player.
Do you have any rookies besides Hill and McGovern making the team?
— Carbon Fiber Supplement ✭ (@mikecarbon22) July 8, 2019
Mike followed up this question by also including Tony Pollard, so I won't touch on that one much except to say that I'm really excited to see what Pollard could do with 5-10 touches per game behind this offensive line. He's such an explosive player with the ball in his hands that you want to work to get the ball in his hands.
So, besides Trysten Hill, Connor McGovern, and Tony Pollard, which rookies do I see making the team in 2019? Well in my most recent 53-man roster projection, I included Mike Jackson, the cornerback out of Miami who the Dallas Cowboys selected in the fifth round as well as Donovan Wilson, the Texas A&M safety, their sixth-round draft pick.
I think both of those players will have an excellent shot to make the roster out of training camp and Wilson, in particular, could find himself with a significant role with the defense if he's able to translate his collegiate playmaking ability to the NFL. He was an excellent tackler and ball-hawking safety and if there's one thing that was evident in 2018, the team needs better tackling from its other safety not named Xavier Woods.
It's going to be very difficult for any of the rookie defensive linemen or wide receivers to make the roster out of training camp because there is already tremendous depth there.
Training camp generally leads to the hype machines getting out of control for undrafted free agent wide receivers and this year will be no different with playmakers Jalen Guyton and Jon'vea Johnson ready to shine. The difficulty is that they'll have to be significantly better than veterans Tavon Austin, Allen Hurns, and Noah Brown to force the team to move on from players they covet and trust.
It's possible, it's just not very likely.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
Training camp is now less than two weeks away and as it draws closer, the excitement of Cowboys Nation will begin to boil over. This is a squad that has the talent and depth to be a contender. We're finally getting closer to being able to see that talent on the field instead of just talking about it.
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
5 Cowboys Players Who Could Steal Someone’s Job in 2019
Star Blog2 weeks ago
Is Safety Eric Berry In The Cowboys Future Plans?
Star Blog2 weeks ago
Leighton Vander Esch: A Steal That Came Along at the Right Time
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Jason Garrett: It’s Time for the Process to pay off
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
How Chidobe Awuzie Could Help Solidify the Cowboys Safety Position
Player News1 week ago
3 Reasons Why Byron Jones May Not be in Dallas Cowboys Future
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
New Faces in the NFC East Division Who Could Give Cowboys Problems
Star Blog2 weeks ago
Robert Quinn Could Solidfy the Cowboys Pass Rush