The 2016 NFL Draft is underway and former Wyoming Cowboys linebacker Eddie Yarbrough is hoping to become the 81st player in Pokes history to be selected.

Yarbrough is projected to by a 6th or 7th round pick. Last year, his former teammate, linebacker Mark Nzeocha was chosen by the Dallas Cowboys in the 7th round. Nzeocha eventually made the team and logged significant playing time towards the end of his rookie season.

In 2014, two Cowboys were selected in the same draft for the first time since 1997. Safety Marqueston Huff was chosen by the Tennessee Titans in the fourth round. "Quest" is now entering his third season with the Titans.

Wide receiver Robert Herron was drafted in the sixth round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Herron made the team his rookie season and is currently a member of the Miami Dolphins practice squad.

The last Wyoming player chosen in the first round of the NFL Draft was running back Lawrence Gaines, who was selected by the Detroit Lions in 1976 with the 16th overall pick. Cornerback Aaron Kyle was taken 11 picks later by the Dallas Cowboys. Gaines went on to play three years in the league, while Kyle had a six year career that ended with the Denver Broncos after the 1982 season.

The only other first round pick from Wyoming was defensive tackle Ron Billingsley, who was taken by the San Diego Chargers with the 14th overall pick in the 1967 draft. Billingsley spent three years in San Diego before being traded to the Houston Oilers in 1971. After another three injury plagued years in Houston, the 6’8″ tackle retired in 1972.

Wyoming has also had several players selected in the second round. Wide receiver Ryan Yarborough was drafted by the New York Jets in 1994 and spent four years in the league as a member of the Jets, Packers and Ravens. In 1989, defensive back Eric Coleman was picked by the New England Patriots in the second round. Sadly, injuries cut Coleman’s career short after only one year.

Of course, the round they’re drafted in doesn’t always determine how successful a player’s professional career will be. Just ask tight end Jay Novacek. After being drafted in the sixth round by the then St. Louis Cardinals in 1985, Novacek was later traded to Dallas and went on to make five Pro Bowls and win three Super Bowls with the Cowboys.

Other notable Wyoming players who went on to have successful careers in the NFL include running back Jim Kiick, who played in three Super Bowls as a member of the Miami Dolphins in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Guard Conrad Dobler made three Pro Bowls as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 70’s and is widely regarded as one of the meanest players in NFL history.

Running back Jerry Hill played eight seasons with the Baltimore Colts in the 60’s. Another Pokes running back, Dave Hampton, spent eight years with the Atlanta Falcons in in the late 60’s and early 70’s. In 1972, Hampton led the NFL in all purpose yards and was named the NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 1975.

All told, 80 Wyoming players have been selected in the NFL Draft, dating back to 1947. Of those, 66 former Pokes have gone on to play in the league. Hopefully, we’ll be adding another name to that list this year.

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