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2023 NFL Draft: Early favorites highlight positions of need for the Cowboys

It’s never too early to start thinking about the future in the NFL.

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NCAA Football: Southern Methodist at Navy Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Draft season is a 24 hour, 365 day never ending process. While both NFL and college football have yet to really reach the midway point in 2022, the draft season can still be here. Because of that, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep a close eye on the upcoming 2023 draft class.

Paying attention to potential prospects the Dallas Cowboys could target in the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft makes watching collegiate football even more interesting. Knowing Dallas’ possible draft “needs” next year now that we are a few games into the 2022 season helps to narrow down some of their potential targets.

With that in mind, we took a look around the Internet to get a feel for who the early favorites for the Dallas Cowboys might be and what positions they could be targeting. After all, it’s never too early to start preparing for the future, even if it does feel as if it’s way too early to do so. Let’s take a look at a few of the first-round favorites so far for the Cowboys.

Pro Football Network (Ian Cummings)

20) Dallas Cowboys: Rashee Rice, WR, SMU

It’s poetic — one of the biggest stars in Dallas joining the Dallas Cowboys. But we promise we’re not just doing this for the style points. Rashee Rice is the first-round candidate that few are talking about as such. He has the talent to earn a spot in that conversation, and it’s especially true with the lack of production at the top of the WR class.

At 6’2″, 203 pounds, with arms over 33″, Rice has great size. He’s also explosive, twitchy, and energetic as an athlete. His best trait, however, is his absolute alpha ability at the catch point. He’s one of the most instinctive playmakers in the 2023 NFL Draft.

A first-round WR? Unlikely, but we said the same thing about CeeDee Lamb when Dallas seemed to be deep at the position. Maybe the same is true for Rashee Rice if he’s the top-ranked player on their board.

Pro Football Focus (Michael Renner)


Verse is another Florida State defensive end transfer rising into the first round. He carries serious juice at 6-foot-4 and 248 pounds, and his get-off is right up there with Will Anderson’s. It’s earned him an 89.8 pass-rushing grade already this season after he transferred from Albany. Putting him across from Micah Parsons would be unfair for opposing tackles.

Dallas has double dipped in back-to-back years by drafting EDGE rushers Sam Williams and Chauncey Gholston, however, this is a premium position that could sway them to pull the trigger three years in a row.

The Draft Network (Brentley Weissman)

19. Dallas Cowboys

Peter Skoronski OT, Northwestern

Connor McGovern is on an expiring contract at left guard and Dallas desperately needs to bolster their offensive line. Peter Skoronski is a player who is a versatile guy that can play either tackle or guard. With the Cowboys, he will slide inside next Tyler Smith and fortify the left side of this front.


27. Dallas Cowboys: Peter Skoronski, OT/G, Northwestern

The Cowboys can’t keep counting on Tyron Smith because he gets injured all the time.

Peter Skoronski is an athletic tackle who has kept his quarterback clean. He can play center as well.

Pick change: previously Kayshon Boutte, WR

This is a prediction that makes a lot of sense on a number of levels. The Cowboys love versatility in their offensive lineman and will likely have a void to fill at left guard. Skoronski’s position flex to play all five OL positions could be too good for them to pass up.

CBS Sports (Josh Edwards)

Round 1 - Pick 21

Michael Mayer TE, NOTRE DAME • JR • 6’4” / 265 LBS

Dallas has Dalton Schultz playing on a franchise tag, and his play may have the team doubting a long-term extension. Mayer gives the Cowboys what they want from the position in terms of blocking and receiving while being a more cost-effective option moving forward.

Dalton Schultz’s future in Dallas may not extend beyond the 2022 season, but the Cowboys do have two promising young TEs in Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot. Because of that, and the positional value of TE in the first-round, this pick seems unlikely.


21. Dallas Cowboys | Illinois CB Devon Witherspoon

While many wrote the Cowboys off following Dak Prescott’s week-one injury, America’s Team has done more than just tread water. With Cooper Rush at the helm, efficient play from the five-year veteran and pure dominance from this defense have Dallas’ turning heads, and if that doesn’t get you excited, just listen to Michael Irvin to get you fired up.

Still, looking ahead to next year’s draft, there are some positions of need that are starting to become clear. The offense is where most of those needs reside, but we can’t completely overlook the defense. We’ve got a corner in this mock draft, and that would likely be the only defensive position Dallas would consider in the first round. Yes, Trevon Diggs is off to an incredible start to his career with 16 interceptions and 44 passes defensed in his first 25 games. However, Anthony Brown is in the final year of his contract and Jourdan Lewis will be in the same boat next season.

While DaRon Bland has been a pleasant surprise as a late-round pick, the reach of Nashon Wright in 2021 has been an absolute disaster (as many including me predicted) and Kelvin Joseph’s lack of development and off-the-field decisions have led to questions about his future as well. Yes, the offense still needs more help, but I would not advise the Cowboys to reach on need in the first round for a second-straight year as opposed to their usual stance of targeting the best value.

~Austin Smith, DraftTek Senior Analyst

Draftwire (Luke Easterling)

23. Dallas Cowboys | Oregon CB Christian Gonzalez

Trevon Diggs is obviously one of the best playmaking corners in the NFL right now, but if opposing quarterbacks want to avoid him, they can find success on the other side of the field. Gonzalez is enjoying a breakout campaign after transferring from Colorado, and has the size, length and athleticism to be the perfect pairing with Diggs.


27. Dallas Cowboys

Joey Porter Jr. CB | Penn State

6’2”, 191 lbs

Other than Trevon Diggs and possibly DaRon Bland, there’s a lot of uncertainty at CB for the Cowboys after the 2022 season. Because of that, any one of the three CBs mentioned above could very well end up becoming Dallas’ first-round pick in 2023.

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