Finding a diamond in the rough in the NFL Draft is a difficult task. It is even more difficult to find a diamond in the undrafted free agent classes. Guys who were not able to have their name called on draft night but good enough to try out for a roster. The Cowboys signed 14 undrafted free agents who will get a shot in training camp.
The Dallas Cowboys have had quite a few guys go from undrafted free agents to successful NFL careers. Diamonds in the rough that have became franchise players for Dallas. That being said, let’s break down the top five undrafted free agents in Cowboys history.
First up we have Dan Bailey, the former Cowboys kicker. Bailey joined the Cowboys out of Oklahoma State in 2011. In his seven years with the Cowboys, Bailey made 88.2 percent of his field goals. He also made 99.3 percent of his extra points but that should be expected. Baileys’ best year in Dallas was in 2015 when he made 93.75 percent of his field goals and did not miss any extra points.
Bailey holds the Cowboys franchise record for consecutive field goals made (30), field goal accuracy (88.2 percent), consecutive extra points made (275), and career field goals made (186). Bailey was one of the best parts of the Cowboys from 2011 until his final year in Dallas. He made only 75 percent of his field goals and 93 percent of his extra points in 2017. Bailey would then be released and join the Vikings. However, Dan Bailey makes this list because of all the franchise records he holds. An undrafted free agent kicker holding four records is enough evidence for me.
Everson Walls joined the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent out of Grambling State in 1981. Walls was projected to be too slow for the NFL but proved many people wrong. Walls would become one of the best cornerbacks to ever wear the Cowboys star. Walls was starting at cornerback only five games into his rookie year. He would lead the NFL in interceptions that year as well with 11. Fun fact, Walls never recorded a single tackle in his 12-year career.
Walls paved a solid path for undrafted free agent cornerbacks. Walls led the NFL in interceptions in three different seasons (1981, 1982, 1985). He and Ed Reed are the only two players in NFL history that have done that. Walls was also a four-time Pro Bowler, three-time first-team All-Pro, and a Super Bowl champion. Walls earns his spot on this list by becoming an elite cornerback that entered the NFL undrafted.
Cliff “Captain Crash” Harris joined the Cowboys after going undrafted out of division two Ouachita Baptist. He played his entire career with the Dallas Cowboys. Harris played free safety for the Cowboys and had at least two interceptions in every single season. Harris led the Cowboys to a top ten defense every year of his career and even led the league in 1977. Harris finished with six Pro Bowl selections and two Super Bowl titles.
What makes Harris so important is that he was a four-time All-Pro and played in five Super Bowls. Harris was a key part of that Cowboys’ first championship in Super Bowl VI. Only one other player has appeared in more Super Bowls than Harris. He is also one of only 13 players to play in five Super Bowls. Harris easily earns his spot on this list and could even be put at the two spot depending on the argument.
Coming in at number two, we have the undrafted free agent out of Tulsa, Drew Pearson. Pearson is a household name with the Cowboys franchise. Originally, Pearson was brought in to be a special teams player but would turn into one of the best wide receivers in Cowboys history. Pearson was a first-team All-Pro in just his second year and again in 1976 and 1977. He was also a three-time Pro-Bowler and Super Bowl champion.
Pearson is fourth all-time in receiving yards for the Cowboys with 7,822 yards. He is also seventh all-time in receiving touchdowns with 48. Pearson is another lifetime Cowboy as he was in Dallas his entire career. In his career, Pearson finished with an incredible 113-43 record overall. Pearson is now enshrined in the Hall of Fame and will forever be one of the best undrafted free agents to dawn the silver and blue.
And last but certainly not least, the greatest undrafted free agent in Cowboys history, Tony Romo. Romo is considered one of the best undrafted free agents ever not just for the Cowboys. Romo joined the Cowboys in 2003 out of Eastern Illinois. It took about three years for Romo to become the starter but once he did, he became one of the best Cowboys quarterbacks of all time. Romo appeared in four Pro Bowls and led Dallas to successful seasons for well over a decade.
Romo is currently the Cowboys’ franchise leader in passing yards (34,183) and touchdown passes (248). He is second all-time in completions with 2,829. While he might not have had the playoff success of guys like Troy Aikman or Roger Staubach, that should not discredit him. Romo went 78-49 in the regular season with his best season being the 2007 season when Romo led Dallas to a 13-3 record. His best season stat-wise was the 2012 season where he finished with 4,903 passing yards and 28 touchdown passes.
Again, the playoff success was not there for Romo but the rest of his resume is Hall of Fame worthy. To lead a franchise like the Cowboys to success at all is a difficult task. Romo is rightfully the greatest undrafted free agent for the Cowboys. His stats beat out previous Super Bowl champion quarterbacks like Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach. Finding a diamond in the rough like Romo is rare but when it happens, the franchise benefits greatly.
Which undrafted free agent from this list is your favorite? Comment below and join the discussion!
For more Dallas Cowboys content, make sure to check out our website here!