/Click here to view the Ultimate 53-man depth chart.
The most important part of each season may be the daily practice grind in July and August, when a team is truly built. As a countdown to this year's training camp, we celebrate the 53rd year of Cowboys football by constructing the team's all-time 53-man roster, picking one player for each season.
Not selecting the 53 best players in club history, DallasCowboys.com has constructed the ultimate team, filling out the depth chart and making room for contributors at every position, including special teams, while at the same time looking ahead to how this year's 53-man roster might shake out.
The series continues today with 1962 and defensive end Bob Lilly:
Name: Bob Lilly
Position: Defensive End
Cowboys Tenure: 1961-74
Why Him? When your nickname is "Mr. Cowboy," you've earned a spot on the franchise's all-time roster. The inaugural draft pick by Dallas in 1961, Lilly's fierce play defined the Doomsday Defense of the 1960s and early 1970s. The 11-time Pro Bowler was the first inductee into the Ring of Honor (1975) and the first Cowboys representative in the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1980). He is the franchise's all-time leader in consecutive games played (196), starting 194 over 14 seasons with the club. A ferocious pass rusher, Lilly's 29-yard sack on Dolphins quarterback Bob Griese in the Cowboys' 1971 Super Bowl championship win marked an NFL record. Lilly made his first Pro Bowl in 1962, his second pro season, in his final full season at defensive end before head coach Tom Landry moved him to defensive tackle.
The Role: Although he played defensive tackle for all but two seasons, Lilly is a starting defensive end on our 3-4 depth chart. His pass rush skills – he led the Cowboys in sacks three straight years from 1961-63 – will be an asset in base and nickel formations. He was always stout against the run. And his competitive spirit should fuel this unit. A little helmet-tossing, a la the Super Bowl V loss to Baltimore, is welcome.
Back To The Future: Let's be honest – it's unfair and inaccurate to compare the Cowboys' current defensive line to perhaps the most recognizable player in team history. Let's leave Lilly in class of his own. But, a guy like Jason Hatcher does provide pressure from the defensive end position, something the Cowboys hope to get from fourth-round draft pick Tyrone Crawford.