Dallas Cowboys: 15 best first-round picks of all-time
By John Buhler
The Dallas Cowboys have drafted exceptionally well over the years, especially in the first round. Here are their 15 best first-round selections to date.
The Dallas Cowboys are America’s Team for a reason. This is a proud football organization that has been tremendously successful over the years. No fan base, or brand for that matter, is bigger in North American professional sports. Professional football conversations often begin and end with how they relate to the Cowboys.
From its early history in the 1960s, the Cowboys organization has been an integral part in the growth of America’s most popular sport. Dallas has won five Super Bowls in its 58-year existence. A major reason for this is how well the Cowboys have drafted over the years. The Cowboys have routinely hit on first-round pick after first-round pick.
Yes, Dallas has found gems outside of day one in the NFL Draft. Just look at Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach. He went in the 10th round to the Cowboys in the 1964 NFL Draft. The guy won a Heisman Trophy in college at Navy, but his commission in the United States Navy delayed his pro career until 1969.
Regardless, the Cowboys would not be the franchise they are today if guys like former general manager Tex Schramm, former vice president of player personnel Gil Brandt and current owner, president and general manager Jerry Jones didn’t draft the way they did. Here are the 15 greatest first-round picks in Cowboys franchise history.
Honorable Mentions: Billy Joe Dupree, TE, Michigan State (1973, No. 20), Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State (2016, No. 4), Greg Ellis, DE, North Carolina (1998, No. 8), Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson, LB, Langston (1975, No. 18), Calvin Hill, RB, Yale (1969, No. 24), Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida (2008, No. 25), Robert Jones, LB, East Carolina (1992, No. 24), Russell Maryland, DT, Miami (1991, No. 1), Terence Newman, CB, Kansas State (2003, No. 5), Anthony Spencer, LB, Purdue (2007, No. 26)
Best first-round draft picks in Dallas Cowboys history: 15. Ed “Too Tall” Jones
Defensive end Ed “Too Tall” Jones was obviously a huge specimen coming out of Tennessee State University in the 1974 NFL Draft. Dallas took the HBCU pass rusher with the No. 1 overall pick in 1974 and got great production out of the 6-foot-9 defensive linemen at the professional level.
Jones originally went to Tennessee State in Nashville to play college hoops. However, he would switch sports as an upperclassmen and suit up for the football team. He was nicknamed “Too Tall” because his sheer size made it difficult for him to put on the Tigers’ uniform. In their eyes, the guy was “Too Tall” to play college football.
Well, they were happily wrong about that, as Jones would be an All-American in 1973 before turning pro. Jones would play all 15 of his NFL seasons over 16 years with the Cowboys from 1974 to 1989.
He was a three-time Pro Bowler and a three-time All-Pro from 1981 to 1983. In the middle of his prime in 1979, Jones briefly gave up football to begin a career in professional boxing. He would return to the Cowboys in the 1980 NFL season.
Overall, Jones would help the Cowboys win Super Bowl XII in his fourth season as a pro. While sacks were not officially recorded until 1982, Jones finished his career with an official 57.5 and an unofficial 106.0 as a prominent member of the Cowboys’ pass rush.