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.
Starters Make Cowboys Serious Contenders, But Depth is a Concern
Playing in the National Football Conference, the Dallas Cowboys have a difficult task ahead of them if they are to be serious Super Bowl contenders. Even still, they've become a very underrated football team due to their 9-7 record last season. The Cowboys struggled in many areas and with the Philadelphia Eagles crowned as Super Bowl Champions, everyone has forgotten about America's Team.
2017 was an awful year for the Cowboys. It seemed like a roller coaster of success, putting up an impressive performance one week only to disappoint the next one. Let's be honest with ourselves here and talk about what really ended the Cowboys' last season.
As much as we talk about how there shouldn't be any excuses in football - the Eagles made a huge statement by winning it all with a backup QB and other key starters missing - we can't deny the impact of these injuries.
Anthony Hitchens, Sean Lee, Tyron Smith and Ezekiel Elliott all missed some time last year, affecting the team's performance week in and week out. Had the starters been healthy, the truth is this team would've been in the playoffs.
Heading into 2018, the Cowboys will face a very similar situation. This year, starters make Dallas a serious contender. Even if they're playing in a conference that will feature a lot of quality teams, the Cowboys are a team that could beat any team in the league if healthy.
Even the dreaded wide receiver position - which has been famous this offseason for the lack of a #1 receiver - won't be as bad as we make it out to be starter-wise. A starting trio of Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup and Cole Beasley doesn't really sound bad.
Heck, not even Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods starting at safety is concerning. They have what it takes to be decent starters. Sure, Heath isn't a guy who will make the Pro Bowl, but his skills will show on the field once the season starts in September.
The Cowboys' starters will do just fine this season. If the team's fate is up to them, they are in a very good spot. The same can not be said about depth, though.
Except for the defensive line, every other position lacks depth. If Sean Lee goes down, the linebackers stop looking like a three-headed monster. Same goes for the cornerbacks. Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis seem like a good group but as soon as one of them suffers an injury, the Cowboys will be in trouble.
We're in for an exciting season with a lot of young talent waiting to breakout. The Cowboys are underrated this year. They may not be among the NFC's favorites, but they truly have what it takes to replicate the success they had in 2016. However, it seems like circumstances have to be ideal for them to make a run for the Lombardi Trophy.
With a little bit of luck, they'll bounce back this season.
The Dallas Cowboys WR Position Battle is Heating Up
Earning a spot on the Dallas Cowboys final 53-man roster is going to be a lot tougher in 2018 then it has been in years past. There is no shortage of position battles taking place right now to earn one of those coveted openings, but it's the battle taking place at receiver that's gaining steam and starting to heat up.
The ultimate unknown right now is how many wide receivers the Dallas Cowboys choose to carry on their 53-man roster this season. Last year they decided to carry six, but they have been known to carry just five. Unfortunately, this means they will have to release some talented players and risk losing them to another team.
As things stand right now there may just be one, possibly two, roster spots up for grabs. I think the only thing we know for sure right now is Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, and Tavon Austin are the only WRs who can feel secure their jobs are safe for 2018. Everybody else is playing a game of Survivor, just hoping their name isn't the one written down and their torch isn't snuffed out.
Terrance Williams' flame may be safe due to his current contract. The Dallas Cowboys can't save anything by releasing him, but it doesn't cost them that much either. It's unlikely he has a future with the team, so if someone were to prove themselves more worthy, his flame could be extinguished.
Last season I thought Noah Brown was ready to unseat Williams, but that never really materialized. Unfortunately, Brown hasn't really shown up as much as I thought he would this offseason, and missing the game against the San Francisco 49ers last week didn't do him any favors either. This doesn't bode well for him moving forward.
Deonte Thompson was signed as a free agent to provide some veteran experience and speed to the passing game, but that in no way means his job is secure. He needs to do something to show up a little more because his age and salary means a younger up-and-coming WR could make him expendable.
Second-year WR Lance Lenoir Jr. might just be the receiver who has stirred things up the most. He has not only created a buzz for himself in offseason practices, but he was able to carry it over into the preseason last week against the 49ers. His arrow trajectory is definitely pointing upwards.
I'd definitely hate to be the one to decide who stays and who goes when final cuts are made. It's not going to be an easy decision to make, because the outcome will definitely have an impact on the team's success this year.
All of these players were brought into help Quarterback Dak Prescott and the passing game reach new heights, so making the wrong move could be detrimental. The number of wide receivers and who the Dallas Cowboys decide to keep might be the most important decision they make before the season starts.
How would you predict the Dallas Cowboys WR position battle turning out?
Any Concern About Dan Bailey Not Playing Against 49ers?
With all the excitement of the Dallas Cowboys finally playing in a game last week against the San Francisco 49ers, it may have escaped your attention that Dan Bailey remained on the sideline the entire time. He didn't attempt one field goal or kick off once last Thursday, which in my opinion is a little concerning.
Dan Bailey joined Ezekiel Elliott and Sean Lee on the sideline as a healthy scratch last week. The decision to sit both Zeke and Sean Lee makes sense due to the physical demands of their positions, but sitting Bailey was a bit of a head scratcher. After all, it's not like he plays a physically demanding position like the other two.
I know. I know. Dan Bailey is an integral part for the Cowboys success moving forward. I'm not arguing that he's not, but after sitting out the majority of the 2017 season with a groin injury and lingering concerns about his health this year, not playing him at all against the 49ers is a bit confusing.
I don't believe there is any kind of kicking competition between Dan Bailey and Brett Maher, who handled all of the kicking duties against the 49ers last Thursday. Bailey will be the Cowboys kicker when the 2018 season gets underway in just a few short weeks. But, the question remains… Why didn't he receive any playing time?
Dan Bailey was never quite the same last season once he returned from his injury. Something was off and I don't know if it was more mental or physical, maybe a little of both. He just wasn't splitting the uprights like his normal self.
Unfortunately, we have seen this kind of thing happen in the past with one of the Cowboys kickers. Nick Folk went through a similar situation with an injury and never really bounced back. I'm just hoping history doesn't repeat itself.
Obviously, the Dallas Cowboys know more about what's going on with Dan Bailey than I do. But, you would think they'd have allowed him to attempt a field goal or at least an extra point in a game situation to build up his confidence once again. It's what I would have done.
Hopefully I'm just being a little paranoid and I'm reading more into this than there actually is. But, the fact I haven't heard any reasoning as to why Dan Bailey was held out last week is sitting a little uneasy with me. I'm just hoping it was precautionary in order to keep him as healthy as possible for the upcoming season.
Should we be concerned Dan Bailey was a healthy scratch last week?
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