The 5 best overall draft classes in Dallas Cowboys history

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAR 01: Mike McCarthy, head coach of the Dallas Cowboys speaks to reporters during the NFL Draft Combine at the Indiana Convention Center on March 1, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAR 01: Mike McCarthy, head coach of the Dallas Cowboys speaks to reporters during the NFL Draft Combine at the Indiana Convention Center on March 1, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /
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Cowboys, Emmitt Smith
Dallas Cowboys, Emmitt Smith (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

. . . Class of 1990 (31.17 wav/pick). 3. player. 123

The 1990 draft class was crucial to the team’s success despite producing only two impact players. That’s mainly because one of the two is arguably the best ever at his position. This was one of the smaller draft classes for the Cowboys, with only six players drafted to the team. One player earned a gold jacket, four First-Team All-Pro seasons, and eight Pro Bowl seasons. No other player from this class made any.

With the 17th pick in the 1990 NFL Draft, Dallas selected a running back out of Florida, Emmitt Smith. He had an immediate impact as a rookie, earning a Pro Bowl nod and the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. The Hall of Famer was absolutely dominant for five consecutive seasons from 1991 to 1995. He led the league in rushing yards four times, rushing touchdowns three times, and total yards from scrimmage twice.

The Cowboy ran for 1,000+ yards in 11 consecutive seasons, highlighted by 1,700-yard seasons in 1992 and 1995. He played 13 of his 15 NFL seasons with the Cowboys, finishing with the most rushing yards and rushing touchdowns in NFL history.

In the third round, the Cowboys looked to the defensive side of the ball and drafted defensive tackle, Jimmie Jones. While he was not a star player, Jones was a very efficient rotational piece. The DT played four seasons in Dallas, three seasons with the Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, and one season with the Philadelphia Eagles. He reached the five-sack mark and 40-tackle mark in four seasons. Teams didn’t have to plan around him, but they couldn’t ignore him either.

Dallas’s second-rounder was Alexander Wright. He was a wideout from Auburn but emerged as a returning specialist at the NFL level. His career lasted seven seasons, but his best years were returning a 90 and 102-yard kick return touchdown in his first two seasons.

Ninth-round defensive back Kenneth Grant was a depth option for the team over five seasons. He joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for three seasons but was a special teams/deep depth option for them. His best season came in 1992 when he made 54 tackles and intercepted three passes. The final two players were defensive back Stan Smagala and linebacker Dave Harper. The two played in a combined 17 games.