The Dallas Cowboys have struggled over the past few years when it comes to the NFL Draft. Few stars have come out of the recent drafts, with only a few here and there becoming major contributors. However, it was not always that way. It used to be that the Dallas Cowboys NFL Draft picks included Hall of Fame stars and Pro Bowl caliber players. With Dallas hoping that the 2014 NFL Draft treats them differently, here is a look at the top five first round draft picks in Cowboys history.
It almost doesn’t seem fair, because in their second year of existence, the Dallas Cowboys drafted defensive tackle Bob Lilly in 1961. With that player as their first ever first round pick, every player drafted after that had a lot to live up to. Lilly played 14 seasons with the Cowboys and was a team leader throughout his entire career. He finished up his career by playing in 11 Pro Bowls, was a seven-time All-Pro, and was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1980.
In 1975, Dallas found a perfect replacement for the departed Bob Lilly. They drafted Maryland defensive tackle Randy White, a player who ended up with the nickname “Manster,” meaning half man and half monster. With White leading the unit, the Dallas Cowboys defensive line became the famed Doomsday Defense. White finished his career with nine All-Pro selections, played in nine Pro Bowls, was a co-Super Bowl MVP in 1978 and entered the NFL Hall of Fame in 1994.
In 1977, the Dallas Cowboys drafted Pittsburgh running back, and Heisman Trophy winner, Tony Dorsett. It paid immediate dividends as Dorsett became the first man to win a National Championship and Super Bowl Championship in back-to-back seasons. He also won the Heisman Trophy and Rookie of the Year honors in those two seasons as well. Dorsett was inducted into both the NFL and College Football Hall of Fame in 1994.
None of the Triplets can be left off a list like this. Tom Landry selected Michael Irvin with the first round pick in 1988 and Jerry Jones selected Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith in the next two drafts. Together, the three men led Dallas to three Super Bowl wins in four seasons. Aikman was a Super Bowl MVP and entered the NFL Hall of Fame in 2006. Irvin is the Cowboys’ all time leading wide receiver and entered the Hall of Fame in 2007 and Smith is the NFL’s all-time leading rusher and was inducted to the Hall in 2010.
While he just left the Dallas Cowboys following the 2013 NFL season, DeMarcus Ware was the last Cowboys NFL Draft pick that appears to be a lock for the NFL Hall of Fame at this time. Ware came to Dallas in the 2005 draft, and by the time he left, he was the Cowboys all-time sack leader with 117. Ware now plays for the Denver Broncos and his career is far from over with.