What Happened the Only Time the Cowboys Picked 19th Overall in the NFL Draft?
The Cowboys hold the 19th overall pick in the first round of this year’s draft. You may have read that this is the first time in team history the Cowboys will pick 19th. Well, sort of. The Cowboys have never selected a player in the 1st round at #19. However, in 1965, they did pick 19th overall…but that pick was in the 2nd round!
Back in 1965, the NFL had only 14 teams.
The Cowboys held the 5th overall pick in 1965. In the 1st round, they selected QB Craig Morton from the University of California. The fifth pick in the 2nd round was #19 overall and the Cowboys used it to select center Malcolm Walker from Rice University.
Walker was a hometown kid from Dallas who attended South Oak Cliff High School where he was All-City in both football and basketball.
During his college years at Rice, Walker played only football, but he pulled double-duty on both offense and defense. On offense, he starred at center. On defense, he starred at linebacker. How good was he? Walker is a member of the Rice Athletics Hall of Fame and was named one of the Top 55 Players in the program’s history.
Not only was Walker a first-team All-American on-the-football field as a senior, off-the-field he was an All-Academic selection and majored in Mathematics.
When it was time to turn pro, Walker was drafted by both the NFL (Cowboys, #19 overall, 2nd round) and the AFL (Houston Oilers, #10 overall, 2nd round).
Walker signed with the Cowboys rather than the AFL Oilers. But he didn’t get on the field his rookie year because of a knee injury suffered while practicing for the Chicago College All-Star Game.
The knee injury landed Walker on the Cowboys’ Injured Reserve List in 1965. By the time the 1966 season rolled around, Walker was moved from center to offensive tackle to add depth at that position. Still recovering from the knee injury, Walker played only 5 games that season. In 1967, he appeared in all 14 regular season games, but didn’t earn a start.
Walker finally moved into the starting lineup at center in 1968, taking over for Dave Manders.
As the starting center, Walker played all 14 games in 1968 and 1969. But prior to the 1970 season, he and defensive end Clarence Williams (a Cowboys’ 11th round draft pick in 1969) were traded to the Green Bay Packers in exchange for future Hall of Fame cornerback Herb Adderley.
Walker played only 11 games (4 starts) for the Packers in 1970. He was still bothered by knee problems. Eventually, the knee injury suffered during the college all-star game would lead to three surgeries to try to repair the damage. In the summer of 1971, the Packers waived Walker who failed his team physical.
In his Cowboys’ career, the only player drafted 19th overall by the Cowboys played in 47 games (28 starts) over four seasons. He eventually was traded for Adderley who played three seasons in Dallas (1970-72), including appearances in both Super Bowl V and VI.
The Cowboys eventually traded Adderley to the Rams in the summer of 1973. During his time with the Packers & Cowboys, Adderley became one of only three players in pro football history to play on six World Championship teams.
As for Walker, he achieved great success post-Cowboys. According to the Rice Athletic Hall of Fame, Walker married fellow Rice undergrad Mary Jo Holder, the sister of one of Malcom’s teammates. And during his playing days with the Cowboys, Walker took courses at SMU and became a certified public accountant. After his playing career ended in Green Bay, he returned to his hometown and worked for a national accounting firm in Dallas. Later, he opened his own accounting firm. He also helped as an assistant football coach at St Mark’s High School.
Walker is a great example of one of the many former Dallas Cowboys who went on to prominent careers following their gridiron glory.