Dallas Cowboys: 15 best draft-day steals of all-time

Dallas Cowboys. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Dallas Cowboys. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /
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Ken Norton Jr., Dallas Cowbos
31 Jan 1993: Linebacker Ken Norton #51 of the Dallas Cowboys tackles Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly #12 during Super Bowl XXVII at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. The Cowboys won the game, 52-17. /

Best draft-day steals by the Dallas Cowboys of all-time: 15. Ken Norton Jr.

1988 NFL Draft: Round 2, Pick No. 41

During his time at UCLA, Ken Norton Jr. established himself as one of the better linebackers in the country, leading the Bruins to bowl games in all four of his college seasons.  A punishing tackler for UCLA, he nearly won the Dick Butkus Award in his final season with the Bruins, given to the best linebacker in college football. He was named an All-American during his last year at UCLA.

Incredibly, a player of his talent slipped to the second round of the 1988 NFL Draft, where the Cowboys were waiting with open arms at No. 41 overall. The pick turned out to be a great one, as Norton became one of the best linebackers in football during his time with America’s Team, leading them to Super Bowl titles in his final two seasons with the team.

Due to salary cap issues, Norton found himself available in free agency in 1994, and latched on with the San Francisco 49ers, where he finished out his career. He had a tremendous run in Dallas, however, racking up over 100 tackles often and even scoring a touchdown in Super Bowl XXVII, sealing the team’s 52-17 victory over the Buffalo Bills.

In total, Norton went to one Pro Bowl, was a Second-Team All-Pro in 1993 and became the leader of a Cowboys defense that brought home two rings. Not bad for a guy who was passed up by every team in football during the 1988 NFL Draft, and who is currently the owner of four Super Bowl rings.