With the NFL Draft less than two weeks away, the excitement is building around the Cowboys' draft, especially after last year's group produced two of the best rookies in league history.
If that proved anything, it's that talent can be found in all rounds. The third round last season provided Maliek Collins. He didn't make the list of the Top 10 third-rounders in franchise history, but he might land himself among that group if he continues to build off last year's success.
Let's look back at the 10 best third-rounders the Cowboys have ever selected.
See DallasCowboys.com's rankings of the top 10 3rd round picks in Cowboys history.
Dat Nguyen (1999)
Jason Hatcher (2006)
Doug Cosbie (1978)
10. Dexter Coakley (1997) – For a guy drafted from a small school in Appalachian State with a smaller frame for a linebacker, Coakley found a way to play big. He made three Pro Bowls for his timely interceptions and fumble recoveries, along with his ability to tackle. Coakley led the Cowboys with 173 tackles in 2002.
9. Tony Hill (1977) – A three-time Pro Bowler who was often overshadowed by Drew Pearson, Hill had some clutch moments in his career, including hauling in Roger Staubach's last-second TD to beat the Redskins in the 1979 season finale. Despite playing in 15 less career games than Pearson, Hill had more receiving yards and TD catches, with 7,988 career yards and 51 touchdowns.
8. Bob Breunig – A fixture in the middle of the Cowboys' defenses in the late 70's and 80s, Breunig led the Cowboys in tackles for five of the first six seasons the NFL made it an official stat. He ranks sixth in Cowboys history with 1,016 tackles – one of just seven players with at least 1,000 stops in their career.
7. DeMarco Murray (2011)– There certainly isn't another NFL Offensive Player of the Year winner on this list, including in the top spot. Murray's magical 2014 season won't be forgotten anytime soon. He rushed for a franchise-best 1,845 yards in what proved to be his final season with the Cowboys. It was a rather impressive four-year run but only playing four years here is why he's lower on the list.
6. Erik Williams (1991) – Here's another guy who could be much higher had he played longer. In fact, some might argue that Williams could've been the best linemen in Cowboys history had he not suffered a career-changing car accident in 1994. Williams might've been better than Rayfield Wright and Larry Allen without that major setback. Still, Williams returned and made it back to a Pro Bowl, but wasn't the same, dominant player the Cowboys found and developed out of tiny Central State in Ohio.
[embeddedad0]5. Danny White (1974) – The Cowboys made a trade with Houston to acquired Ed "Too Tall" Jones with the No. 1 overall pick in 1974, but picked up an additional third-rounder as well. That proved to be White, who began his career as Staubach's backup and the Cowboys' primary punter. That versatility helped save a roster spot for years until he midway through the 1980's when he was the full-time starter. White never led the Cowboys to the Super Bowl despite three straight NFC Championship appearances in his first three years as the starter.
4. Charlie Waters (1970)– One of the defensive leaders for the Doomsday Defenses of the 1970's. Paired up with fellow safety Cliff Harris, Waters had a knack for getting around the football. In his 11 pro seasons – all with the Cowboys – Waters racked up 41 interceptions, which ranks third in franchise history. However, he is the Cowboys' all-time leader in postseason picks, snagging nine passes in the playoffs. He made three straight Pro Bowls from 1976-78.
3. Mark Stepnoski (1989) – The Cowboys were building their foundation in the first draft under Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson. With Aikman and Johnston picked in the first two rounds, Stepnoski was a perfect with the next selection. While he was undersized for the prototype, Stepnoski proved to be one of the anchors of the best lines in all of football. His technique was on-point, allowing him to not only keep defensive tackles in front of him, but he had the ability to move them out of the way, opening up passing lanes for Aikman and running lanes for Emmitt.
2. Harvey Martin (1973) – You can't find many categories that have Martin ranked No. 2 on anything. He was the Cowboys' best pass-rusher of his era and is one player many fans and media members think should be in the Ring of Honor. With 114, Martin held the franchise record in sacks until DeMarcus Ware passed him in 2013. Martin and his teammates had a dominant performance in Super Bowl XII, crushing the Broncos to earn Co-MVP honors along with Randy White. Martin and Richard Dent (Chicago, Super Bowl XX) are the only defensive ends to earn Super Bowl MVP honors.
1. Jason Witten (2003)– The Cowboys nearly took Witten in the second round but Bill Parcells opted for a center instead. When the 69th pick rolled around Witten was still on the board, the 49ers called Dallas and desperately wanted that spot. The Cowboys ask them which player San Francisco was trying to get and the team admitted it was Witten. The Cowboys not only hung up rather quickly but turned in the card right away with Witten's name on it. The rest, as they say, has been history-making. Witten has become one of the NFL's best tight ends in league history and is seemingly headed for Canton, Ohio one day. He's not only that, but has proven to be the all-around Dallas Cowboy, displaying toughness, leadership, respect for the game, on top of his ability to block and catch and anything else the Cowboys have ever asked him to do.