History of Dallas Cowboys First-Round NFL Draft Picks All Time

    The Dallas Cowboys' lack of modern playoff success sometimes fuels criticism, but the team's history with first-round NFL Draft picks has always been stellar.

    The Dallas Cowboys are sometimes viewed as an underachieving modern franchise, but their track record with first-round picks in the NFL Draft has always been very solid — from the current era all the way back to the franchise’s inception. Let’s take a look at every first-round pick in Cowboys history.

    Dallas Cowboys First-Round Draft Picks Throughout History

    The Cowboys haven’t been without their first-round misses, but the team’s history is quietly one of the strongest in the league. In the modern era, selections like Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, CeeDee Lamb, and Micah Parsons highlights the team’s ability to pinpoint top talent. Further back, the team’s success is even greater.

    Before the turn of the century, Dallas drafted six Hall of Famers in Round 1. From 1988 to 1990, they selected three consecutive Hall of Fame players in wide receiver Michael Irvin, quarterback Troy Aikman, and running back Emmitt Smith — all of whom would help form the Cowboys’ dynasty of the 1990s.

    In the 2023 Hall of Fame class, Cowboys’ 2005 first-round pick DeMarcus Ware became the team’s seventh Round 1 selection to don a golden jacket.

    2024

    • Tyler Guyton | Pick 29
      OT, Oklahoma

    2023

    • Mazi Smith | Pick 26
      DT, Michigan

    2022

    • Tyler Smith | Pick 24
      OT, Tulsa

    2021

    • Micah Parsons | Pick 12
      LB, Penn State

    2020

    • CeeDee Lamb | Pick 17
      WR, Oklahoma

    2019

    The Cowboys traded the 27th pick to the Oakland Raiders.

    2018

    • Leighton Vander Esch | Pick 19
      OLB, Boise State

    2017

    • Taco Charlton | Pick 28
      DE, Michigan

    2016

    • Ezekiel Elliott | Pick 4
      RB, Ohio State

    2015

    • Byron Jones | Pick 27
      CB, Connecticut

    2014

    • Zack Martin | Pick 16
      G, Notre Dame

    2013

    • Travis Frederick | Pick 31
      C, Wisconsin

    2012

    • Morris Claiborne | Pick 6
      DB, LSU

    2011

    • Tyron Smith | Pick 9
      OT, USC

    2010

    • Dez Bryant | Pick 24
      WR, Oklahoma State

    2009

    The Cowboys traded the 20th pick to the Detroit Lions.

    2008

    • Felix Jones | Pick 22
      RB, Arkansas
    • Mike Jenkins | Pick 25
      DB, South Florida

    2007

    • Anthony Spencer | Pick 26
      DE, Purdue

    2006

    • Bobby Carpenter | Pick 18
      LB, Ohio State

    2005

    • DeMarcus Ware* | Pick 11
      LB, Troy
    • Marcus Spears | Pick 20
      DE, LSU

    2004

    The Cowboys traded the 22nd pick to the Buffalo Bills.

    2003

    • Terence Newman | Pick 5
      DB, Kansas State

    2002

    • Roy Williams | Pick 8
      DB, Oklahoma

    2001

    The Cowboys traded the seventh pick to the Seattle Seahawks.

    2000

    The Cowboys traded the 19th pick to the Seattle Seahawks.

    1999

    • Ebenezer Ekuban | Pick 20
      DE, North Carolina

    1998

    • Greg Ellis | Pick 8
      DE, North Carolina

    1997

    • David LaFleur | Pick 22
      TE, LSU

    1996

    The Cowboys traded the 30th pick to Washington.

    1995

    The Cowboys traded the 28th pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    1994

    • Shante Carver | Pick 23
      DE, Arizona State

    1993

    The Cowboys traded the 29th pick to the Green Bay Packers.

    1992

    • Kevin Smith | Pick 17
      DB, Texas A&M
    • Robert Jones | Pick 24
      LB, East Carolina

    1991

    • Russell Maryland | Pick 1
      DT, Miami (FL)
    • Alvin Harper | Pick 12
      WR, Tennessee
    • Kelvin Pritchett | Pick 20
      DT, Mississippi

    1990

    • Emmitt Smith*| Pick 17
      RB, Florida

    1989

    • Troy Aikman* | Pick 1
      QB, UCLA

    1988

    • Michael Irvin* | Pick 11
      WR, Miami (FL)

    1987

    • Danny Noonan | Pick 12
      DT, Nebraska

    1986

    • Mike Sherrard | Pick 18
      WR, UCLA

    1985

    • Kevin Brooks | Pick 17
      DT, Michigan

    1984

    • Billy Cannon | Pick 25
      LB, Texas A&M

    1983

    • Jim Jeffcoat | Pick 23
      DE, Arizona State

    1982

    • Rod Hill | Pick 25
      DB, Kentucky State

    1981

    • Howard Richards | Pick 26
      G, Missouri

    1980

    The Cowboys traded the 24th pick to the Baltimore Colts.

    1979

    • Robert Shaw | Pick 27
      C, Tennessee

    1978

    • Larry Bethea | Pick 28
      DT, Michigan State

    1977

    • Tony Dorsett* | Pick 2
      RB, Pittsburgh

    1976

    • Aaron Kyle | Pick 27
      DB, Wyoming

    1975

    • Randy White* | Pick 2
      DT, Maryland
    • Thomas Henderson | Pick 18
      LB, Langston

    1974

    • Too Tall Jones | Pick 1
      DE, Tennessee State
    • Charley Young | Pick 22
      RB, North Carolina State

    1973

    • Billy Joe DuPree | Pick 20
      TE, Michigan State

    1972

    • Bill Thomas | Pick 26
      RB, Boston College

    1971

    • Tody Smith | Pick 25
      DE, USC

    1970

    • Duane Thomas | Pick 23
      RB, West Texas A&M

    1969

    • Calvin Hill | Pick 24
      RB, Yale

    1968

    • Dennis Homan | Pick 20
      WR, Alabama

    1967

    The Cowboys sent their selection to the Houston Oilers in exchange for the rights of Ralph Neely in 1965.

    1966

    • John Niland | Pick 5
      G, Iowa

    1965

    • Craig Morton | Pick 5
      QB, California

    1964

    • Scott Appleton | Pick 4
      DT, Texas

    1963

    • Lee Roy Jordan | Pick 6
      LB, Alabama

    1962

    The Cowboys traded the fourth pick to the Cleveland Browns.

    1961

    • Bob Lilly* | Pick 13
      DT, TCU

    *Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

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