The History Of Wyoming Cowboys In The NFL Draft
Next week, Josh Allen will become the 83rd University of Wyoming player selected in the NFL Draft. The quarterback is also projected to be the highest draft pick in program history and the first former Poke taken in the first round since 1976.
Of the 82 Pokes selected since the draft began in 1947, 68 of them have played in the league. Last year, two Wyoming players, Brian Hill and Chase Roullier, were drafted. Former Cowboys Tanner Gentry, Jacob Hollister, and Eddie Yarbrough also made NFL rosters after going undrafted.
Wyoming has produced only three first-round picks over the years. Ron Billingsley, who was chosen 14th overall by the San Diego Chargers in 1967, was the highest. In 1976, Lawrence Gaines was selected by the Detroit Lions with the 16th overall pick. Aaron Kyle was taken 11 picks later by the Dallas Cowboys. It has now been 42 years since the Pokes had a player drafted in the first round.
Other notable Wyoming players in the NFL include Jim Kiick, who played in three Super Bowls as a member of the Miami Dolphins in the late '60s and early '70s. Conrad Dobler made three Pro Bowls as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals in the '70s and is widely regarded as one of the meanest players in NFL history.
Jerry Hill played eight seasons with the Baltimore Colts in the '60s. Another Pokes running back, Dave Hampton, spent eight years with the Atlanta Falcons in the late '60’s and early '70s. In 1972, Hampton led the NFL in all-purpose yards and was named the NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 1975.
Of course, draft order doesn’t always determine how successful a player's career will be. After Jay Novacek was drafted in the sixth round by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1985, he was traded to Dallas and went on to make five Pro Bowls and win three Super Bowls with the Cowboys.