With the NFL Draft being underway, I’ve heard, read and been part of a lot discussion about the best and worst draft picks in league history as well as for each team. Naturally, being a Cowboys fan, I gave a lot of thought as to who’s the best draft pick in franchise history.
A strong case can be made for Roger Staubach who was drafted by Cowboys in the 10th round. The Hall of Fame quarterback earned nicknames such as, “Captain Comeback,” “Captain America,” and “Roger the Dodger,” and led the franchise to its first two Super Bowl victories. The fact he was taken so late in the draft makes him more of a steal.
Of course, it’s easy to make a case for guys like Bob Lilly, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin and others. However, I think the No. 1 spot for best draft pick in Dallas Cowboys history goes to Herschel Walker.
Sure, it’s easy to point out that Walker was only there for three seasons and some change of his fourth year in the league before being traded to the Minnesota Vikings but that trade is what helped the Cowboys build a dynasty in the 1990s. Those three Super Bowls wouldn’t have happened without trading Walker.
After winning the 1982 Heisman Trophy as the running back for the Georgia Bulldogs, Walker opted for the United States Football League where he played for the New Jersey Generals from 1983 until 1985. He then entered the 1985 NFL Draft pick where he was taken in the fifth round by the Cowboys with the 114th overall pick.
After a few seasons in Dallas, Walker was dealt to Minnesota in what has to be the biggest trade in NFL history. In return, the Cowboys received five players and six draft picks. The players they received directly from Minnesota weren’t the ones who made the trade the blockbuster deal it became. It was the players drafted as a result of the trade – guys like Emmitt Smith, Russell Maryland, Darren Woodson (who in my opinion, should be a Hall of Famer) and Kevin Smith.
Emmitt Smith alone, who went on to be the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, would have made the trade worth it but those other draft picks played key roles in helping the Cowboys win three Super Bowls in four years – and they were able to do it because the Cowboys traded a fifth-round pick.
Walker was key to those Super Bowl victories and probably deserves a Super Bowl ring but I realize that’s not how it works. The irony of it is that Walker returned to Dallas and finished his career as Cowboy in the 1996 and 1997 seasons.
All-in-all, Walker is the best Cowboys’ draft pick in my books.