The 53: Lockhart JoinsDeep ILB Rotation

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Lockhart led the Cowboys in tackles four times, including an NFL-best and team-record 222 in 1989.

/ 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 from each season.

Not so much 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 1988 and linebacker Eugene Lockhart:

Name: Eugene Lockhart
Position: Linebacker
College: Houston
Height/Weight: 6-2/235
Cowboys Tenure: 1984-90

Why Him?Lockhart played during the 1980s swoon between the franchise's two dynasties but was a bright spot on a declining team, making two All-Pro teams (1989, 1990) and leading the Cowboys in tackles in four of his seven seasons. In 1989, he became the first Cowboys defender to record 200 tackles in a season with an NFL-leading 222 (Bradie James became the second in team history with 202 in 2008). A fierce hitter, Lockhart topped 100 tackles in every season he was in Dallas except 1987, when he missed the only games of his tenure (three) due to a broken leg. By 1991, new head coach Jimmy Johnson decided he wanted more speed than the 30-year-old Lockhart could provide, and he was traded to the Patriots, where he started 25 games over his final two NFL seasons.

The Role:Linebacker is yet another deep position on our Ultimate 53 roster, but Lockhart's steady play during the 1980s earned him a spot as a second-team inside linebacker behind starters Chuck Howley and Lee Roy Jordan. Like the Cowboys' current group, a solid rotation is needed, and Lockhart would be able to contribute on certain downs while also using his aggressive style on special teams.

Back To The Future: Newly-signed Dan Connor could have a similar role to Lockhart's on the current roster. If he doesn't beat out Bruce Carter for the starting job next to Sean Lee, Connor's experience and toughness will still be an asset in Rob Ryan's rotation.

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