We are now three posts in, taking care of those that get credit for the wins and losses. The coaches and the quarterbacks are out of the way, now let's move along to the other position players. For a look at the quarterback pool, check here. Even excluding the signal callers, the Cowboys have been exceptionally blessed in being able to find championship level talent. The list is full of players with multiple championship rings, pro bowl nominations and some MVP honors.
We'll stray a little from out previous format, and for this post and probably the next, we will present the Top 20 non-quarterbacks. These rankings are per ProFootballReference.com's Approximate Value score. PFR has graded each player in NFL history on a season by season basis, in an attempt to rank players from different eras.
Here's a brief explanation of the metric from it's creator, Doug Drinen.
"AV is not meant to be a be-all end-all metric. Football stat lines just do not come close to capturing all the contributions of a player the way they do in baseball and basketball. If one player is a 16 and another is a 14, we can't be very confident that the 16AV player actually had a better season than the 14AV player. But I am pretty confident that the collection of all players with 16AV played better, as an entire group, than the collection of all players with 14AV."
For the full explanation of AV, you can go here. We'll only be focusing on AV's accrued while in a Cowboys uniform.
As with all advanced metrics, the results are up for debate. While the majority of PFR's rankings pass the initial eye test, most of us aren't able to recollect players from other generations because we've never had a chance to watch them in action. We do have some BTB members that have been watching the team for 40 to 50 years, and as usual we appreciate any insight they have on these historical lists.
Follow the jump for the lists.
|Rank||Player||Played From||Played To||Cowboys AV|
|20||TE Billy Joe Dupree||1973||1983||71|
|19||OT Pat Donovan||1975||1983||73|
|18||FB Don Perkins||1961||1968||76|
|17||TE Jason Witten||2003||2010||80|
|16||OT Mark Tuinei||1983||1997||80|
|15||C Mark Tuinei||1983||1997||80|
|14||WR Tony Hill||1978||1986||82|
|13||OT Erik Williams||1991||2000||86|
|12||C Tom Rafferty||1976||1989||87|
|11||OG John Niland||1966||1974||89|
10 - WR 'Bullet' Bob Hayes
Hayes played from 1965-1971. Dallas Career AV 92. Three time Pro Bowler, two time First-Team All Pro. Inducted into Hall of Fame in 2009. Led NFL in TD receptions 1965, 1966. Led league in yards per reception in 1970 and 1971. Led league with 20.8 punt return average in 1968.
9 - OG Nate Newton
Newton played from 1986-1998. Dallas Career AV 93. Six time Pro Bowler, two time First-Team All-Pro. Three time Super Bowl champion. Played two seasons in USFL.
8 - OT Flozell Adams
Adams played for the Cowboys from 1998-2009. DCAV 94. Five time Pro Bowler.
7 - WR Drew Peason
Pearson played from 1973-1983. DCAV 99. Three time Pro Bowler and Three time First-Team All-Pro. Led NFL in receiving yards in 1977. Played in three Super Bowls, winning one.
6 - OT Rayfield Wright
Played from 1967-1979. DCAV 104. Six time Pro Bowler, three time First-Team All-Pro. Inducted into Hall of Fame in 2006. Played in five Super Bowls, winning two.
5 - OG Larry Allen
Played from 1994-2005. DCAV 110. 10 time Pro Bowler with Dallas, six time First Team All-Pro. Played in and won one Super Bowl.
4 - OT Ralph Neely
Played from 1965-1977. DCAV 124. Two time Pro Bowler, three time First-Team All-Pro. Played in four Super Bowls, winning two.
3 - WR Michael Irvin
Played from 1988-1999. DCAV 128. Five time Pro-Bowler, one time First-Team All-Pro. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007. Played in and won three Super Bowls. Led league in receiving yards and ypg in 1991. Had career high 111 catches, 1603 yards and 10 catches in SB winning year of 1995. Had 47 100 yard games, third most in NFL history. 87 postseason receptions for 1315 yards, both rank second all-time.
2 - RB Tony Dorsett
Played for the Cowboys from 1977-1987. DCAV 131. Four time Pro-Bowler, one time First Team All-Pro. Inducted into Hall of Fame in 1994. Played in two Super Bowls, winning one. Had NFL's longest runs from scrimmage in 1977 (84 yds) and 1982 (99) which is still the longest in NFL history. Ran for over 12,000 yards with the Cowboys, another 3400 yards receiving. Had 51 catches in 1984, averaged 9.0 yards per reception for his career.
1 - RB Emmitt Smith
Played for the Cowboys from 1990-2002. DCAV 162. Eight time Pro Bowler, four time First-Team All-Pro. Inducted into Hall of Fame in 2010. Played in and won three Super Bowls. Led NFL in carries in '91, '94 and '95. Led league in rushing yards four times. Led league in rushing TDs three times, including 25 in '95. Also caught 62 passes that season. Averaged over 100 yards per game three different seasons. Career NFL leader in rushing yards with 18,355, over 17,000 with the Cowboys including the record breaker. 153 career rushing touchdowns in Dallas (2nd all time 164 total).
The rest of the Offensive Player Pool
I took a couple liberties here, but only a couple. There are some current Cowboys listed here that haven't had a chance to prove their all time worth just yet. I have confidence in them, though, and to round out the field they've been included.
|Position||Player||Played From||Played To|
|C||C John Fitzgerald||1971||1980|
|C||C Andre Gurode||2002||2010|
|C||C Mark Stepnoski||1989||2001|
|C||C Jim Cooper||1977||1986|
|C||C Dave Menders||1964||1974|
|G||G Tony Liscio||1963||1971|
|OG||OG Herb Scott||1975||1984|
|OG||OG Blaine Nye||1968||1976|
|OG||OG Leonard Davis||2007||2010|
|OG||OG Kevin Gogan||1987||1993|
|OG||OG Kyle Kosier||2006||2010|
|OT||OT Marc Colombo||2006||2010|
|OT||OT Doug Free||2009||2010|
|RB||RB Calvin Hill||1969||1974|
|RB||FB Walt Garrison||1966||1974|
|RB||FB Robert Newhouse||1972||1982|
|RB||RB Herschel Walker||1986||1997|
|RB||RB Marion Barber||2005||2010|
|RB||FB Ron Springs||1979||1984|
|RB||FB Moose Johnston||1989||1998|
|RB||FB Amos Marsh||1961||1964|
|RB||RB Duane Thomas||1970||1971|
|RB||RB Felix Jones||2008||2010|
|RB||FB Richie Anderson||2003||2004|
|TE||TE Jay Novacek||1990||1995|
|TE||TE Doug Cosbie||1979||1988|
|TE||TE Eric Bjornson||1995||1999|
|TE||TE Mike Ditka||1969||1972|
|WR||WR Frank Clarke||1960||1967|
|WR||WR Terrell Owens||2006||2008|
|WR||WR Alvin Harper||1991||1994|
|WR||WR Terry Glenn||2003||2006|
|WR||WR Lance Rentzel||1967||1970|
|WR||WR Miles Austin||2007||2010|
|WR||WR Dez Bryant||2010||2010|
Quick question. I was amazed to see Tony Dorsett had 84 fumbles while with the Cowboys. That is an incredible number including three years in double digits. I started watching the Cowboys in the mid to late 80's, can someone fill me in on how that was viewed at the time?
Also, let us know how you feel about PFR's rankings. Anything that you'd have done differently? Give us your version of a top 20 and anything else that has caught your eye.
Up next in the series: BOTB Defensive Skill Positions
Special recognition for this series goes to the following resources. I'm very appreciative of the content provided.