Dallas Cowboys: Top-5 rookie performers of all-time

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Allen Dean Steele/Getty Images)
(Photo by Allen Dean Steele/Getty Images) /

No. 2 Dallas Cowboys rookie: Everson Walls

In the 12-round 1981 NFL draft, the Dallas Cowboys selected 12 players, three of which were defensive backs selected in rounds 6 and 7.  Those 12 draft picks had something in common. They were all from big schools, and most of them came from schools with a pedigree for great players.

Defensive back Everson Walls was one of the undrafted free agents signed that year by Dallas. He came from a small school, Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Grambling State University, where he played for the legendary coach Eddie Robinson. During the 70s and 80s, the Southwestern Athletic Conference, the largest HBCU conference, sent a few future Hall of Famers to the NFL, with defensive end Deacon Jones, defensive back Mel Blount, and wide receiver Jerry Rice, to name a few.

Walls started 12 of 16 games that year and led the NFL with an insane 11 interceptions. As an undrafted guy, he gets extra points on my list. He didn’t make the All-Pro team that year, but consider the competition: Ronnie Lott, San Francisco 49ers; Mel Blount, Pittsburgh Steelers; Mark Haynes, New York Giants; and Lester Hayes, Oakland Raiders. I’d say that was a tough group to crack, especially for a rookie.

Although he wasn’t an All-Pro, he turned in one of the best rookie seasons in league history.