OPINION: Cowboys have solid but not spectacular draft


AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter

Dallas Cowboys first-round draft pick Mazi Smith is a defensive tackle from Michigan


The Dallas Cowboys had a very under-the-radar draft, continuing the trend from last year, and that is exactly what they needed. There were no flashy picks, but they found talent in positions of need.

In the first round, they selected Michigan defensive tackle Mazi Smith to help bolster a defensive line that allowed over 124 rushing yards per game last season, which ranked 22nd in the league. Smith is a not a refined talent, but the upside is immense. He has the prototypical size to be elite at his position at 6-foot-3, 323 pounds and 34-inch arms. With the correct development, this could be one of the best picks of this year’s draft.

Luke Schoonmaker, the tight end from Michigan, was taken in the second round with the goal of replacing Dalton Schultz. The Cowboys must not be over the moon with Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot, both from the 2022 class. Schoonmaker projects to be a Day 1 starter and a valuable piece in the run game as a blocker.

Wrapping up Day 2 of the draft they took Texas linebacker DeMarvion Overshown in the third round, adding key depth. Outside of Micah Parsons, there is no standout linebacker on the roster. Dallas has invested many later-round picks in linebackers, but none have hit yet.

head shot of Andrew Goodrich
Andrew Goodrich

Overshown will not be a Day 1 starter but hopefully take the stride many of those other linebackers have not.

Viliami Fehoko, the defensive tackle from San Jose State, was taken in the fourth round to add depth to the middle of the defensive line. At this point in the draft, none of these picks are expected to start right away, but stars can be found and developed. Fehoko is another high-upside pick at a position that lacks depth.

In the fifth round, the Cowboys took Asim Richards, the offensive lineman with guard/tackle versatility from North Carolina. With Zack Martin and Tyron Smith in the latter part of their careers, finding project players is a great insurance policy. As long as the injury bug doesn’t strike again this season, there will be plenty of depth on the offensive line.

Cornerback Eric Scott Jr. of Southern Miss was taken in the sixth round after the Cowboys traded up. The cornerback slot opposite Trevon Diggs was a hole for most of 2022, and the team addressed it with a trade for Stephon Gilmore.

But that is a stop-gap solution for one, maybe two years, and then there will need to be a long-term answer.

Scott is a raw talent with elite traits who has the potential to be an effective starter. He’s nowhere near ready to start, but he’s someone to look out for a year from now.

Finally, a running back was drafted. Deuce Vaughn was taken in the sixth round out of Kansas State where he had an electric career. The team must see a lot of promise in Malik Davis to pass on a lot of the quality talent that was available in the previous rounds. Vaughn expectedly fell this late due to his extremely small size at 5-feet-5, 179 pounds, but the talent is there.

It will be interesting to see how Vaughn’s skills translate to the NFL level, but if they do, this will be an absolute steal.

With their final pick, the Cowboys took receiver Jalen Brooks out of South Carolina. This pick didn’t seem to fit since he had extremely limited college production and his speed tested out horribly at the combine. Given it is a seventh-round pick, maybe Jerry and Stephen Jones know something I do not.

Overall, the Cowboys’ needs were addressed, and depth was added. Like with any draft, only time will tell how successful this draft was. 

The Cowboys have not developed much talent in later rounds from the past three classes, and that does not give me reason to believe they will now.

If recent history repeats itself, more and more pressure will be on the first and second round picks to produce.