Dallas Cowboys draft challenge: Roger Staubach, Bob Hayes, Danny Noonan and Billy Cannon

Note: Due to the past few days' technical difficulties, the final two parts in our five part series will be presented at the same time in abridged profiles. For the past two weeks, Blogging The Boys has profiled the top five biggest draft steals and worst disappointments in Dallas Cowboys history, culminating in a final vote tomorrow morning.

Worst disappointment nominee #4: Danny Noonan, selected #11 overall in the first round of the 1987 draft.

The Cowboys drafted Danny Noonan out of Nebraska feeling that they had found their next Randy White. He was a big, strong defensive tackle who also had the versatility to move anywhere along the defensive line. Those hopes did not last very long. It became startlingly apparent that Noonan was way over his head in the NFL and was unable to adjust to the higher level of play. His most productive year came in 1988 when he recorded 7.5 sacks as he moved between defensive tackle and end. When Jimmy Johnson took over as head coach of the Cowboys it all began to unravel. He had troubles maintaining his playing weight and never seemed to have the strength he displayed in college. It would come out later that Noonan had been supplied with steroids while playing football in college and it is assumed that his flame out in the NFL can be attributed to his steroid abuse. Noonan was cut by the Cowboys in 1992 and after attempting a come back with the Green Bay Packers, retired from football.

Worst disappointment nominee #5: Billy Cannon, selected #25 overall in the first round of the 1984.

Billy Cannon, Jr. is not a disappointment because of the way he played. In fact, he was a very promising linebacker out of Texas A&M and for the first 8 games of his rookie season proved to the Cowboys he was worthy of the number one pick. Then halfway through the season, he suffered a severe back and spinal injury. Doctors advised him that another hit would most likely prove fatal and he retired following his rookie year. He was supposed to be the young anchor for a defense that was being rebuilt but his unfortunate injury ended all of those hopes.

Biggest draft steal nominee #4: Roger Staubach, QB, selected in the tenth round of the 1964 draft.

"Roger the Dodger" was a stand out player in college, winning the Heisman trophy and the Maxwell award his junior year while playing for Navy. He was extremely athletic and an amazingly accurate passer and was a player many NFL teams coveted. Unfortunately he had a military obligation to serve and most teams backed away from a player who would not be able to play for another four years. The Dallas Cowboys decided to take a chance on Staubach and drafted the feisty quarterback in the tenth round of the 1964 draft. He went on to serve in Vietnam as a supply officer and after his return to the States, played in various military football leagues in order to stay in shape for his NFL career. After resigning his commission in 1969, he immediately joined the Dallas Cowboys for training camp.

The rest of the story is pure legend. After taking over the starting quarterback spot from Craig Morton, Staubach would go on to lead the Dallas Cowboys to two Super Bowl championships out of four appearances. He won Most Valuable Player in Super Bowl VI and would be named to six Pro Bowls as well as being placed on the 1970's All-Decade team. He was known for his ability to make plays out of nothing and for leading his team twenty-three fourth quarter comeback victories. Perhaps his most famous moment came in the 1975 playoff game against Minnesota when he threw a final gasp 50 yard touchdown pass to Drew Pearson. After mentioning the prayer he uttered before the pass, the play would go down in football lore as the "Hail Mary." Roger Staubach retired following the 1979 season as the then highest rated passer of all time. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985 and is regarded as one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play he game.

Biggest Steal nominee #5: Bob Hayes, WR, selected in the seventh round of the 1964 draft

There is only one person in the world that could claim he won both an Olympic gold medal as well as a Super Bowl ring. That man is "Bullet" Bob Hayes, once considered the fastest man alive and the greatest wide receiver to ever play for the Dallas Cowboys. He was an All-American track star at a small school in Florida, breaking multiple world records in the 100 and 200 meter dash. Tex Schramm and Gil Brandt of the Dallas Cowboys decided it might be well worth the risk to draft Hayes in the hope that they could parlay his blazing speed into an NFL wide receiver. Dallas drafted him in the seventh round of the 1964 draft and soon after Hayes won a gold medal at the 1964 Summer Olympics in the 100 meter dash.

When Bob Hayes took the field the NFL was unable to contain him. His lightning speed was too much for defenses to handle and forced teams around the league to try to come up with new ways to defend against this speedy receiver.  This inability to cover him led to the development of the zone defense, in which the defensive players would spread across the field instead of playing man coverage. With defenses spreading themselves thin in an effort to cover Hayes, the Cowboys unleashed their multi-faceted running game and decimated defenses. Hayes would play in five conference championships and two Super Bowls, winning in 1971. Hayes would retire from the NFL in 1975 with 22 franchise receiving records, including 71 touchdowns. Most impressive is his all-time career average of 20 yards per catch, a record that will most likely stand forever.

Bob Hayes forced NFL defenses to change drastically in a desperate effort to cover him. There has not been any player int he history of the league that has single-handedly causes such sudden change. Amazingly, he has yet to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His eligibility is one that has constantly been surrounded by contreversy as many claim the selection committee has a bias against Dallas Cowboys players. Many use Hayes' drug problems as an excuse for his being denied entry into the Hall of Fame, an argument that holds very little merit. It is uncertain if Hayes will ever get the opportunity again after coming so close yet falling short of induction in 2004, a fact that caused one committee member to resign in protest.

Bob Hayes passed away in 2002.

 

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