5 Greatest Defensive Players in Cowboys History

Tristan Jung
DeMarcus Ware makes the list of five greatest Dallas Cowboys defensive players.
DeMarcus Ware makes the list of five greatest Dallas Cowboys defensive players. / Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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With five Super Bowl victories and a legacy as "America's Team", it's no surprise the Dallas Cowboys have had some all-time great defensive players. No team can have that much success without historically great talent.

We looked through 61 seasons of Cowboys lore to find the five greatest defensive players in Cowboys history.

Best Cowboys Players on Defense of All-Time

5. Deion Sanders, CB (1995-99)

Deion Sanders played CB for the Dallas Cowboys from 1995-99.
Deion Sanders played CB for the Dallas Cowboys from 1995-99. / JOHN RUTHROFF/Getty Images

Deion Sanders bounced around five NFL teams and four MLB teams in his remarkable career, but his five years in Dallas saw him at the peak of his abilities. After Jerry Jones made him the highest-paid player in the league, Sanders delivered the goods. He made four Pro Bowls and was named First-Team All-Pro three times in Dallas, becoming the best cornerback the team had ever seen. Even as a part of only one Super Bowl team in Dallas (XXX), his time there is still fondly remembered.

4. Mel Renfro, DB (1964-77)

Mel Renfro played CB for the Dallas Cowboys from 1964-77.
Mel Renfro played CB for the Dallas Cowboys from 1964-77. / Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

A member of the "Doomsday Defense" that set up the Cowboys' dynasty during the Tom Landry years, defensive back Mel Renfro was arguably the template for all ball-hawking safeties to come. Renfro had a knack for interceptions, once leading the league with 10 in the 1969 season. He was a huge part of the Cowboys' success during his 14-year career, helping to lead them to two Super Bowl victories and making 10 Pro Bowls along the way.

3. DeMarcus Ware, OLB (2005-13)

DeMarcus Ware played OLB/DE for the Dallas Cowboys from 2005-13.
DeMarcus Ware played OLB/DE for the Dallas Cowboys from 2005-13. / Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

DeMarcus Ware's nine years in Dallas were consistently excellent. The prototypical pass-rushing linebacker, Ware had 117.0 career sacks over nine years in Dallas, which is the most by a Cowboy in franchise history by more than 20.0 sacks. Ware led the league in sacks twice and forced an astonishing 32 fumbles while in Dallas, and his 145 tackles for a loss (TFL) are also nearly twice as many the second-highest mark (75). A nine-time Pro Bowler, Ware was clearly one of the best pass rushers of his generation and will almost certainly get into the Hall of Fame once he's eligible.

2. Bob Lilly, DT (1961-1974)

Bob Lilly played DT for the Dallas Cowboys from 1961-74.
Bob Lilly played DT for the Dallas Cowboys from 1961-74. / James Flores/Getty Images

Joining the Cowboys in 1961, Bob Lilly made 11 Pro Bowls and seven First-Team All-Pro selections over his 14-year NFL career. A key defensive tackle on the Doomsday Defense, Lilly routinely got to the quarterback with ease. Although we don't have sack statistics for his time in the league, we can be sure they were excellent. Lilly never missed a game for the Cowboys and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1980.

1. Randy White, DT/LB (1975-88)

Randy White played DT/LB for the Dallas Cowboys from 1975-88.
Randy White played DT/LB for the Dallas Cowboys from 1975-88. / George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Randy White was an utterly dominant defender for the Cowboys and would likely be the team's all-time sack leader if there were stats for his entire career. White was a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks and established himself as the league's preeminent pass-rusher from 1977 to 1985. Over his 14 years in Dallas, White was unstoppable. He made seven First-Team All-Pro rosters, nine Pro Bowls and was named co-MVP of Super Bowl XII.


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Tristan Jung is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Tristan Jung also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username tristan1117. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.

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