The First Draft in Dallas Rangers (Cowboys) History: Expansion Draft of March 13, 1960
March 13th is the anniversary of the first draft in Cowboys’ history…although technically it was the Dallas Rangers. The NFL expansion franchise in Dallas changed its name from ‘Rangers’ to ‘Cowboys’ six days after it stocked its roster in the 1960 Expansion Draft.
Back in those days, the NFL Draft did not take place in the spring. The drafting of college players for the 1960 season actually took place on November 30, 1959. That was too early for the expansion team in Dallas to participate. In fact, Dallas is the only expansion team in NFL history to not take part in the annual college draft.
So the league had to come up with an idea for Dallas to add players. That’s why the 1960 Expansion Draft was created by the NFL.
Here’s how it worked:
Each of the existing 12 NFL teams had to submit a list of 9 players that were eligible to be taken off their roster and added to Dallas’ roster. Dallas could only choose 3 of the 9 players listed by each NFL team.
A total of 3 players from each of the 12 teams would create a roster of 36 players.
Of the 36 players selected by Dallas on March 13, 1960, a total of 23 eventually made the active roster.
The list of players that started their careers with other NFL teams but came to Dallas and starred for the Cowboys include: WR Jim Doran (the first Pro Bowl player in Cowboys history, 1960 season), LB Jerry Tubbs (Pro Bowl in 1962), RB L.G. Dupre, WR Frank Clarke, TE Dick Bielski (Pro Bowl in 1961),
In addition to the 23 players from the Expansion Draft, the Cowboys filled-out the rest of their 1960 roster by signing free agents or making trades.
For example, starting QB Eddie LeBaron was acquired in a trade with the Redskins for two picks in the 1961 draft (plus, LeBaron had to be coaxed out of retirement to play for Dallas). QB Don Meredith, the SMU star, had signed a personal services contract with a company owned by Dallas Rangers owner/founder Clint Murchison, Jr. When Meredith was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the 3rd round of the 1960 NFL Draft, Bears owner George Halas allowed the league to assign Meredith’s rights to Dallas in exchange for a 3rd round pick in 1962.
Star running back Don Perkins also signed a personal services contract with Murchison prior to the 1960 NFL Draft. When the Baltimore Colts selected him in the 9th round and the league later assigned his rights to the Cowboys, the Cowboys traded their 9th round pick in the 1962 draft to Baltimore.
But as for the 1960 Expansion Draft, here’s the full list of 36 players drafted by the Dallas Rangers. See if you can recognize any of these names. If the name is listed in BOLD print, they made the roster. If they are listed in italics, they were a Pro Bowl player either before-or-after they joined Dallas.
Dallas Rangers 1960 Expansion Draft Selections:
- Baltimore Colts: RB L.G. Dupre, P/WR Dave Sherer, DE Ray Krouse
- Chicago Bears: DT Don Healy, RB Jack Johnson, RB Pete Johnson
- Cleveland Browns: WR Frank Clarke, RB Leroy Bolden, RB Ed Modzelewski
- Detroit Lions: WR Jim Doran, C Charlie Ane, LB Gene Cronin
- Green Bay Packers: RB Don McIlenny, DE Nate Borden, S Bill Butler
- Los Angeles Rams: CB Tom Franckhauser, T Bob Fry, G Duane Putnam
- New York Giants: QB Don Heinrich, G Buzz Guy, G Al Barry
- Philadelphia Eagles: TE Dick Bielski, T Jerry DeLucca, LB Bill Striegel
- Pittsburgh Steelers: WR Ray Mathews, DT/T Ray Fisher, RB Bobby Luna
- San Francisco 49ers: LB Jerry Tubbs, WR Fred Dugan, DE John Gonzaga
- St Louis Cardinals: DT Ed Husmann, LB Jack Patera, T Bobby Cross
- Washington Redskins: LB Tom Braatz, C Joe Nicely, RB Doyle Nix
Of this list of 36 players, 11 played only one season in Dallas. Three started for Dallas for at least five seasons (LB Jerry Tubbs, WR Frank Clarke, and OT Bob Fry).
On March 19, 1960, the Dallas Rangers renamed themselves the Dallas Cowboys and they struggled during the inaugural season. The team record was a lowly 0-11-1. The only non-loss was a tie with the Giants in the second-to-last game of the season.
As for the success of the Expansion picks in 1960: WR Jim Doran led the team in receptions; RB L.G. Dupre led the team in rushing (L.G.’s nickname was ‘Long Gone’); Dave Sherer led the team in punting; and CB Tom Frankhauser led the team in interceptions and kickoff returns.