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Cowboys hit it big with Roy Williams, Andre Gurode in 2002 NFL Draft

18 years ago, the Dallas Cowboys made out like bandits in the 2002 NFL Draft with their top two selections combining for 10 Pro Bowl appearances over their careers.
Credit: AP
New Orleans Saints tight end Mark Campbell (80) is hit by Dallas Cowboys safety Roy Williams (31) after picking up 14 yards on a pass play in the second quarter of an NFL football game in Irving, Texas, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2006. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

In 2002, the Dallas Cowboys had a first-round pick for the first time since 1999, and the NFC East club took Oklahoma safety Roy Williams with that first selection.

The Cowboys traded back from the No. 6 overall pick, their consolation for a second straight 5-11 record under coach Dave Campo. The Kansas City Chiefs gave Dallas their No. 8 overall pick in Round 1, third 75th overall pick in Round 3, and a 2003 sixth-round pick to take North Carolina defensive tackle Ryan Sims.

Dallas took Williams with the No. 8 overall pick. The 2001 Jim Thorpe Award winner was the 31st first-rounder to come from Oklahoma, and the first Oklahoma defensive player to go in the first round since defensive end Cedric Jones in 1996.

Williams would go on to five Pro Bowls for the Cowboys from 2002-08 and earned his lone All-Pro selection in 2003. The 6-0, 222-pound safety was a perfect complement to Darren Woodson, the franchise leader in career tackles. Both were hard-hitting defensive backs that thrived in an NFL where headhunting receivers over the middle was encouraged.

 In the second round, with the 37th overall pick, Dallas needed to find a suitable successor to Mark Stepnoski, who retired at the end of the 2001 season after starting all 16 games to conclude his 13-year career. 

The Cowboys took Andre Gurode from Colorado in the second round, and the Houston North Shore product became the first rookie to start at center for Dallas on Opening Day in club history. 

Gurode would also add five Pro Bowls in his career along with a second-team All-Pro in 2009. If Gurode would have received more votes, he would have become the first Cowboys center to earn first-team All-Pro. Instead, Travis Frederick finally secured that honor in 2016.

The Cowboys rounded out the draft with receiver Antonio Bryant taken with their 67th overall pick in Round 2, cornerback Derek Ross in Round 3, fullback Jamar Martin in Round 4, cornerback Pete Hunter in Round 5, center Tyson Walter, receiver DeVeren Johnson, and tight end Bob Slowikowski in Round 6. Dallas even fared well with priority free agents as safety Keith Davis and kicker Billy Cundiff became valuable parts of Dallas' special teams for the next four seasons.

The one do-over that could be had from the draft is actually in the first round at the safety position. There was a senior coming out of Miami, a school where former Cowboys defensive line coach Butch Davis was head football coach from 1995-2000. He was a co-Big East Defensive Player of the Year in 2001 and a two-time All-American. That player was Ed Reed, and the Baltimore Ravens drafted him with the 24th overall pick.

Will the Cowboys finally draft another safety in the first round like they did with Roy Williams 18 years ago or will they continue to look elsewhere in 2020? 

Share your thoughts with Mark Lane on Twitter @therealmarklane.

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