The Dallas Cowboys have produced the sport’s best players to step foot on the gridiron. Normally known for their offense, the 62-year-old franchise possessed some of football’s best defensive players. After listing the Cowboys’ all-time offense, why not build their all-time defense? The same rules apply.
In order to qualify for the all-time defense, the player must spend the majority of his career with Dallas. The player can be a current or former Cowboy and must have Pro Bowls and All-Pros in his career. They do not have to be Hall of Famers. Let’s dive into the all-time defensive team!
Defensive End: Harvey Martin
The first name on the board is Harvey Martin, the stellar Dallas defensive end for 11 years. The third-round draft choice made the 1970s All-Decade team for his threatening presence.
Martin made four pro bowls and was the 1977 Defensive Player of the Year, recording a league-leading 20 sacks. He added an All-Pro selection to his 1977 campaign.
The DE finished his career as the franchise leader in sacks with 114 and added six fumble recoveries. Martin is not a Hall of Famer, but his football resumé proves he is worthy of Canton.
Defensive Tackle: Bob Lilly
The Cowboys owned two of the greatest defensive tackles in the league’s history. To start off at DT, Bob Lilly was drafted by Dallas 13th overall in 1961. Dallas traded their first-round pick and OT Paul Dickinson to the Cleveland Browns for the draft choice to select Lilly.
He started all 196 games he appeared in, which spanned a 14-year career with Dallas. Lilly racked up an incredible 11 Pro Bowls and seven All-Pros. The Hall of Famer won Super Bowl VI with the Cowboys.
Lilly totaled 95.5 sacks, along with 18 fumble recoveries and 109 yards after recovery. A member of the 1960s and 1970s All-Decade teams, the Cowboy legend entered the Hall of Fame in 1980.
Defensive Tackle: Randy White
Along with Bob Lilly, Randy White is in the conversation of the greatest defensive tackle of all time. White replaced Lilly after his retirement and did a fantastic job.
The second overall pick in the 1975 NFL Draft, White served as Lee Roy Jordan’s backup for the first two years of his career. Dallas moved White to defensive tackle, where he became the most dominant in his era.
Making nine consecutive Pro Bowls, he won his only Super Bowl in the 1977-78 campaign, sharing the Super Bowl MVP with Harvey Martin. He added seven All-Pro First Team honors to his playing career.
In 165 games started, White compiled 111 sacks with 10 fumble recoveries and one interception. The DT was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984.
There is no team in the NFL that compares to the defensive tackle duo that “America’s Team” presents. When the position comes up in a conversation, Lilly and White are the top two DTs in football.
Defensive End: Ed “Too Tall” Jones
At 6-foot-9, the nickname “Too Tall” fits perfectly for defensive end Ed Jones. The Cowboys acquired the first overall pick from the Houston Oilers and chose “Too Tall” Dallas did not miss with this selection.
Playing all 15 years of football with “America’s Team,” Jones is a three-time Pro Bowler and was named to the 1982 All-Pro team. The fan favorite played every game in every season except in 1987.
“Too Tall” registered 106 sacks and 19 fumble recoveries. He is not a Hall of Famer, but a Dallas Cowboys legend.
Linebacker: DeMarcus Ware
The 11th overall pick in the 2005 draft displayed Troy University’s finest product. DeMarcus Ware made an impact right out of the gate for the Cowboys.
Leading the league in sacks twice, Ware obtained seven Pro Bowls and four All-Pro selections. In three separate seasons, Ware topped the NFL in tackles for loss.
Ware broke Martin’s franchise sack record (117) and leads the organization’s history in tackles for loss ( 145) and quarterback hits (185). Once eligible, there should be no problem with Ware getting a bust in Canton.
Linebacker: Lee Roy Jordan
Stapling himself as a premier middle linebacker, Lee Roy Jordan is not a Hall of Famer but portrayed a respectable career.
Chosen sixth overall by Dallas, Jordan made a name for himself at Alabama as an All-American. Transitioning to the NFL seemed to be no issue, becoming the first rookie LB in Cowboys history to start a season-opener.
In 14 years, Jordan was named to five Pro Bowls and one All-Pro team. He was a part of the Super Bowl VI championship squad. Jordan intercepted 32 passes, recovered 18 fumbles, and had 19.5 sacks in his playing career.
Linebacker: Chuck Howley
Chuck Howley concludes the all-time linebacker trio. After he suffered a leg injury, the Bears traded Howley to Dallas. For the rest of his playing days, Howley remained a Cowboy and his career ignited.
Howley set the tone for the Dallas defense in the 1960s and 1970s, winning Super Bowl V MVP with his two-interception performance. He also had a fumble recovery in the championship game.
Perhaps the most surprising player on this all-time defense to not be a Hall of Famer because he owns six Pro Bowls and five All-Pro selections. Add the Super Bowl MVP with 24 picks, 26 sacks, and 17 fumble recoveries to the mix, he deserves a gold jacket.
Cornerback: Mel Renfro
The franchise’s interception leader is the first corner mentioned on the all-time defense. Chosen 17th overall by Dallas, Renfro made an impact right away, finishing fourth in Rookie of the Year voting.
Over the course of his career, Renfro collected 10 straight Pro Bowls, four Second-team All-Pros, and two Super Bowl rings. The CB led the NFL with 10 picks in 1969.
Renfro finished his playing days with 52 interceptions and 13 fumble recoveries. While returning kicks for the Cowboys, he averaged 26.4 yards, a team-high record.
Cornerback: Everson Walls
The Dallas Cowboys signed an undrafted hometown corner to their squad and ended up leading the NFL in interceptions in his first year. That hometown man would be Everson Walls. In three different seasons, Walls topped the league in picks. Somehow, he is not in the Hall of Fame with his impressive catalog.
Four Pro Bowls, one All-Pro, along with 44 interceptions with the Cowboys are excellent accolades. He was a part of Dallas’ championship team in Super Bowl XXV.
It can be argued that Deion Sanders should be an all-time Cowboys corner. However, Walls and Renfro played the majority of their careers in Dallas and put up better numbers in their tenures with the Cowboys.
Safety: Darren Woodson
Although he is not a Hall of Famer, Darren Woodson is one of the best backfield players to wear the star helmet. Taken in the second round, he played all 12 years with the Cowboys and retired as the franchise leader in tackles.
Woodson earned five consecutive Pro Bowls and three All-Pros. He played a key role on a defense that provided Dallas with three Super Bowl titles in the 1990s.
The safety tallied 967 tackles, 23 interceptions, and 12 forced fumbles. Woodson supplemented 11 fumble recoveries and 11 sacks.
Safety: Cliff Harris
Another undrafted standout, Cliff Harris fills the last spot on the all-time defense. Playing all 10 years of his career with Dallas, Harris won two Super Bowls with the organization in the 1970s.
The safety reeled in six straight Pro Bowls, three All-Pros, and is a member of the 1970s All-Decade team. Harris intercepted 29 passes and recovered 18 fumbles for his career. In 2020, the DB was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
With all the Cowboy greats, there are solid defenders left off this squad. It is only proper to honorably mention the contenders for each spot. Some of these players either did not spend the majority of their career in Dallas or just missed the cut.
DE: George Andrie
DT: Jethro Pugh
DT: Larry Cole
DE: Tony Tolbert
LB: Jerry Tubbs
MLB: Bob Breunig
LB: Dave Edwards
CB: Deion Sanders
CB: Cornell Green
S: Charlie Waters
S: Roy Williams
How does the all-time Dallas Cowboys defense play out? Highlighted by two of the best defensive tackles ever, “America’s Team” has incredible talent all over. Any disagreements or snubs? Agree with the list?
For More Great Football Content
Follow us on Twitter at @GridironHeroics for more great content. We appreciate you taking time to read our articles. To interact more with our community and keep up to date on the latest in Football news, JOIN OUR FREE FACEBOOK GROUP by CLICKING HERE