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Top 10: Ranking The Team's Most Valuable SEC Draft Picks


IRVING, Texas – The Southeastern Conference continued its dominance of college football by winning its seventh straight national title in 2012.

Alabama reigned supreme for the second straight season, and, naturally, the Crimson Tide are one of the few college teams expected to pour out multiple first-round talents in the 2013 NFL Draft in April.

But this isn't the first or last time the SEC will generate top picks and supreme NFL talent.

The Cowboys have had some luck previously drafting players from the conference. We took a look at the top 10 players the Cowboys selected from the SEC, based more on value than talent alone. The list includes players drafted from current SEC teams, even if those teams weren't in the SEC at the time.

A first-round pick may have performed better than a fourth-round pick, but the ranking is determined by the most bang for the buck.   

Hon. Mention – Randall Godfrey (Georgia) – The versatile second-round pick started toward the end of his rookie season at strong side linebacker. He started another two seasons there before taking over at middle linebacker in 1999.

10) Morris Claiborne (LSU) – This was a speculative pick for the top corner the Cowboys traded up for. Injuries inhibited his progress early, but by midseason he developed  enough to believe he could be a solid starter for years to come.

9) Kevin Smith (Texas A&M) – Smith played nine seasons for the Cowboys after getting drafted in the first round in 1992. He was a valuable part of all three Super Bowl teams, eventually taking over as a starter his rookie year.

8) Dat Nguyen (Texas A&M) – Nguyen spent all seven of his NFL seasons with the Cowboys after getting selected in the third round of the 1999 draft. He led the team in tackles in 2001 and 2003, compiling 104 solo tackles in '01.

7) Bradie James (LSU) – The fourth-rounder led the team in tackles for a club-record six consecutive seasons. His 202 combined tackles in 2008 and 181 combined tackles in 2009 are second and third on the team's all-time list.

6) Alvin Harper (Tennessee) – The 1991 first-rounder was valuable next to Michael Irvin during the Super Bowl runs. He came up clutch, particularly in the postseason, and scored at least four touchdowns in each season from 1994-96.

5) Jay Ratliff (Auburn) – This might be the best value pick. The Cowboys got Jay Ratliff in the seventh round of the 2005 draft. He's had some dominant seasons in the middle of the 3-4, racking up 7.5 sacks in 2008 and six in 2009.

4) Lee Roy Jordan (Alabama) – His 1,236 combined tackles and 743 solo tackles both place second on the team's all-time list. The linebacker also has the most combined tackles in a season game with 21 against Philadelphia in 1971. 

3) Jason Witten (Tennessee) – The third round pick set the single-season record for catches by a tight end. In the process, he broke Irvin's record for most receptions in team history. He's still got plenty left in the tank.  

2) Emmitt Smith (Florida)- The NFL's all-time leader in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns who played an unheralded 15 NFL seasons. He'd be No. 1 on the list, but he wouldn't have been there at all if it weren't for someone else.

1) Herschel Walker (Georgia) – They took the fifth-round pick from the USFL, guessing correctly the league would fold. Walker rushed for 1,514 yards in 1988 and was traded for players and picks in 1989, landing Emmitt and Kevin Smith.

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