IRVING, Texas – Around here, it never seems too early to talk about the draft. While free agency will come and go before the NFL Draft rolls around in late April, it remains a hot topic for all teams.
But probably more so for the Cowboys, who unlike last year, probably won't spend a lot of dollars in free agency. The reason being – they really don't have much to spend, having to get about $20 million under the salary cap as it is.
So there will be plenty of emphasis centered on the draft, where the Cowboys are slotted to pick No. 18.
Not a high pick or really a low one, but very close to the middle. So this week's Top 10 list focuses on how the Cowboys have done over the years taking players in somewhat the middle of the first round.
Here are the Top 10 Cowboys draft picks when selecting players in the 11-20 spots of the first round.
10. Ebenezer Ekuban (20th) – Some might have Ekuban on another kind of Top 10 list when it comes to first-rounders. His sack totals were down, but he was a solid player who played nine years.
9. Alvin Harper (12th) – At No. 12 overall, you're hoping for a Pro Bowl stud, but Harper wasn't that guy. He did make big plays, including several in the playoffs.
8. Kevin Smith (17th) –A solid cornerback who wasn't flashy but just sound in his technique. Before his Achilles injury in 1995, he was on his way to having a possible Pro Bowl career.
7. Billy Joe DuPree (20th) –One of the first true complete tight ends. He could catch, run and block. He wasn't flashy either, but very productive and durable.
6. Thomas Henderson (18th) –Ok, here's your flashy. Some say that's all he was. But Henderson was one of the more athletic linebackers in the game. Off-the-field issues hurt his career. [embedded_ad]
5. Mel Renfro (17th) –Hard to say Renfro is fifth on any list. The 10-time Pro Bowler and Hall of Fame defensive back was a steal at No. 17 back in 1964.
4. DeMarcus Ware (11th) –Assuming he stays healthy, Ware will also likely have 10 Pro Bowls under his belt and could be headed for Canton. The Cowboys chose him over Shawne Merriman.
3. Michael Irvin (11th) – This was Tom Landry's last first-round pick in 1988. Who knew at the time he'd be paired up with his college coach and Troy Aikman the following year.
2. Bob Lilly (13th) –Mr. Cowboy was quite a pick for the young Cowboys squad back in 1961. Turned out to be the team's defensive leader for years.
1. Emmitt Smith (17th) –Who else? He was short, small and not very fast. Yet the Cowboys knew he could be special. The all-time rushing leader in NFL history suggests that.