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Top 10 Cowboys draft picks that never played for the team

The Dallas Cowboys have a long, storied history of NFL Draft success but these are the ones that got away.

DALLAS — Everyone and their ferret has a top-10 greatest Dallas Cowboys draft pick list right now. But how many great players did the Cowboys draft that never actually played with the team? That is the question this exercise explores, and there are some surprising names on the list.

10. DT Scott Appleton, Round 1 (No. 4 overall), 1964 — The former Texas Longhorn wasn't really the Cowboys' pick. As part of a trade for receiver Buddy Dial, the Cowboys agreed to draft Appleton on behalf of the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, the Houston Oilers also drafted Appleton with the No. 6 overall pick in the AFL draft. 

Appleton, a Brady, Texas, native, decided to play pro football in his home state and signed with the Oilers, where he played 42 games through the 1966 season. Appleton's final two years were spent with the San Diego Chargers.

9. OT Bob Svihus, Round 4 (No. 53 overall), 1965 — The former USC Trojan was also taken in the third round of the AFL draft. Instead of traveling to Texas to play for the NFL, Svihus chose to stay on the West Coast and play for the silver and black. 

Svihus was a stalwart for the Raiders at left tackle through the 1970 season and finished his career with the New York Jets from 1971-73. Svihus would have been nice to have with the '71 Cowboys, who dealt with tackle injuries and availability all season.

8. S Brig Owen, Round 7 (No. 89 overall), 1965 — Dallas selected the Linden, Texas, native who played college ball at Cincinnati. The expectation was he would play safety for the Cowboys, but he never saw any official playing time with the Cowboys as he was on the team's "taxi squad" (proto-practice squad) for his rookie year. 

In 1966, he was part of a three-man trade to Washington. Owen went on to start 123 games for Washington from 1966-77, intercepting 36 passes and returning three of them for touchdowns. Washington put Owen in their ring of fame and named him as one of the greatest players in the team's 80-year history.

7. S Ernie Kellermann, Round 12 (No. 159 overall), 1965 — Another defensive back that never played any regular-season games for the Cowboys, Dallas waived Kellermann at the end of preseason. The former Miami Redhawk caught on with the Cleveland Browns as a member of their taxi squad and worked his way onto the active roster by the 1966 season. 

Kellermann, who played 81 games for the Browns through the 1971 season, got his revenge against Dallas when Cleveland beat them in the 1968 and 1969 NFL divisional playoffs. Kellermann played his final two years with the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills.

6. LB Stew Barber, Round 3 (No. 30 overall), 1961 — The Cowboys picked Barber in their first-ever college draft in club history. However, the former Penn State product signed with a pro football team closer to home, as the Buffalo Bills also took him in Round 4 of the AFL draft. 

Barber played linebacker in his first season, but switched to left tackle in 1962, recording five consecutive AFL All-Star selections. Barber was even part of league championship teams in Buffalo from 1964-65. Barber played 125 games for Buffalo through the 1969 season.

5. G Billy Shaw, Round 14 (No. 184 overall), 1961 — Like Barber, Shaw was also taken by the Bills in the second round in their draft. Dallas wanted Shaw to play linebacker, but he would have rather played defensive end if he were going to be on that side of the ball. After signing with the Bills, the team decided to put him on the offensive line. 

The former Georgia Tech product played 119 games for Buffalo at left guard, making eight AFL All-Star teams. Shaw did not play officially in the NFL as he retired after the 1969 season. Shaw is a member of the Bills' Wall of Fame and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999.

4. LB E.J. Holub, Round 2, (No. 16 overall), 1961 — Another disappointment from the Cowboys' first-ever draft, the former Texas Tech product and Lubbock native decided to sign with the Cowboys' co-tenants in the Cotton Bowl, the AFL's Dallas Texans. Holub was in the mold of Chuck Bednarik as he played both center and linebacker. 

By 1968, he was a one-way player for the Kansas City Chiefs, the rebranded Dallas AFL franchise that left town after the 1962 season. Holub earned five AFL All-Star selections and was a member of the Chiefs' Super Bowl IV team that knocked off the Minnesota Vikings to provide a satisfactory conclusion to the history of the AFL.

3. TE Todd Christensen, Round 2 (No. 56 overall), 1978 — Technically, the BYU Cougar never played a regular-season down for the Cowboys as he broke his foot in the last preseason game and missed his rookie year. Christensen got away from the Cowboys because he didn't want to convert to tight end; he wanted to keep playing fullback. 

Dallas waived Christensen, and he had a brief stint with the New York Giants before landing with the Oakland Raiders in 1979 as a special teamer. In 1980, he relented and played tight end. It wasn't until 1983 that he broke out as a tight end with a league-leading 92 catches. Christensen made five Pro Bowls and two first-team All-Pros and was a two-time Super Bowl champion with the Raiders.

2. WR Carl Lewis, Round 12 (No. 334 overall), 1984 — The Cowboys had success 20 years earlier with Bob Hayes, an Olympic gold medalist in track, which is why the Cowboys took a shot on the 6-2, 176-pound sprinter from Houston. 

However, Lewis knew his limitations and what he was best at, and decided to stay with track and field, where he earned nine Olympic gold medals throughout his career. The Cowboys weren't the only pro sports team to take a flier on Lewis as the Chicago Bulls of the NBA also selected him towards the end of their draft.

1. WR Pat Riley, Round 11 (No. 285 overall), 1967 — The genius of vice president of player personnel Gil Brandt was his ability to scour the most unlikely of places for talent, even if that meant looking to other sports. Brandt saw the 6-4, 205-pound Kentucky Wildcat either as a receiver or a tight end. Instead, Riley stayed with basketball as the San Diego Rockets drafted him No. 7 overall in the first round of the 1967 NBA draft. 

Riley was a member of the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers, who won the NBA Finals, and was a member of another NBA Finals team in the 1975-76 Phoenix Suns. Riley has had more success as a coach and executive with four NBA titles with the Lakers in the 1980s and the Miami Heat in 2005-06. 

Riley also won NBA Executive of the Year in 2011, the season after he orchestrated the acquisitions of LeBron James and Chris Bosh to form the "Big Three" with Dwyane Wade, who won two NBA Finals in 2012 and 2013.

What is the top Cowboys draft pick of all time? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.