The Dallas Cowboys have held a top-10 draft pick 14 times in their history with eight of those picks being used on the defensive side of the ball.
The Cowboys hold the 10th pick in the 2021 NFL draft, which is their first time holding a top-10 draft pick since 2016 when they selected former Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Elliott was the highest player selected by the Cowboys since taking Russell Maryland first overall in the 1991 NFL draft.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB (2016) – 4th Overall
Elliott finished his rookie year as the NFL’s top rusher with 1,631 yards, which was third most by a rookie (behind Eric Dickerson’s 1,808 in 1983 and George Rogers’ 1,674 in 1981, and the youngest player to reach 1,600 yards.
Morris Claiborne, CB (2012) – 6th Overall
Claiborne finished his rookie season in 2012 with 55 combined tackles (43 solo), eight pass deflections, and one interception in 15 games and 15 starts.
Tyron Smith, T (2011) – 9th Overall
Smith was the first offensive lineman drafted in the first round by the Cowboys since Jerry Jones bought the team in 1989, and the highest in franchise history since John Niland went fifth overall in 1966. Smith was named a starter at right tackle from the first day of Organized Team Activities, with Doug Free taking over the left tackle spot. He was named to the NFL All-Rookie Team.
Terence Newman, CB (2003) – 5th Overall
Newman finished his rookie season in 2003 with 76 combined tackles (66 solo), 14 pass deflections, four interceptions, and a sack in 16 games and 16 starts.
Roy Williams, S (2002) – 8th Overall
Williams, with the mentoring of Darren Woodson, enjoyed a stellar season and his first trip to the Pro Bowl as he was part of the Cowboys’ number one ranked defense and helped lead the team to its first playoff game since 1999.
Greg Ellis, DE (1998) – 8th Overall
Ellis was a selection which caused a great stir among Dallas Cowboys fans who were disappointed that the team passed on the opportunity to take Randy Moss. During his tenure in Dallas he totaled 77 quarterback sacks, 377 tackles, 20 forced fumbles nine fumble recoveries and four interceptions. He scored two touchdowns, both in 1999, one coming on an 87-yard interception return and the other on a 98-yard return of a fumble recovery.
Russell Maryland, DT (1991) – 1st Overall
Maryland started as a rookie defensive tackle and from the beginning showed the relentless motor and effort that he would be known for. He was especially stout against the run and helped the team win three Super Bowls. In 1993 he was named to his only Pro Bowl.
Troy Aikman, QB (1989) – 1st Overall
Aikman finished 1989 with a 0–11 record as a starter, completing 155 of 293 passes for 1,749 yards, 9 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.
Tony Dorsett, RB (1977) – 2nd Overall
Dorsett provided an instant impact, rushing for 1,007 yards (including a 206-yard rushing effort against the Philadelphia Eagles), scoring 12 touchdowns and earning rookie of the year honors. He set a new Cowboys rookie record and was also the only Cowboy to rush for more than 1,000 yards in his rookie season. He held the record for 39 years, until 2016, when Ezekiel Elliott surpassed 1,000 yards in his 9th game and broke Dorsett’s record in game 10 with 1,102 yards.
Randy White, DT (1975) – 2nd Overall
White was the Dallas Cowboys’ first pick and the second player selected in the 1975 National Football League Draft, and was moved to middle linebacker, where he was a backup to Cowboy legend Lee Roy Jordan, playing mostly on special teams his first two seasons, including his rookie season when Dallas lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl X.
11. Too Tall Jones (1974) – 1st OVerall
12. John Nilan (1966) – 5th Overall
13. Craig Morton (1965) – 5th Overall
14. Lee Roy Jordan (1963) – 6th overall